Barack Obama has squandered his presidency. He had a fleeting moment to challenge the casino capitalism and financial recklessness of our economic and political elite. He could have orchestrated a state socialism that would have provided a safety net for tens of millions of Americans faced with dislocation and misery. The sums he has doled out to Wall Street could have been used to force companies to keep workers on the job or create new banks to open up credit. But he lacked the foresight and the courage to challenge entrenched power. And now we are headed down one of two frightening roads—massive deflation or hyperinflation. Neither will be pleasant.
Hyman Minsky—an economist largely ignored during his lifetime and now held up as something of a prophet—argued that speculative bubbles, and the financial collapses that follow them, are an inevitable consequence of unregulated capitalism. Minsky, an economics professor at Washington University in St. Louis who died in 1996, warned: “The normal functioning of our economy leads to financial trauma and crises, inflation, currency depreciations, unemployment and poverty in the middle of what could be virtually universal affluence—in short … financially complex capitalism is inherently flawed.” He called for socialized banking and stimulus packages to protect workers.
Copyright © 2009 Truthdig
Chris Hedges, who is an Arabic speaker and spent seven years in the Middle East, was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times.