It feels as if we’re caught somewhere between the “Emperor’s New Clothes” and “Humpty Dumpty.”
This remarkable machine that captured the national imagination with a stunningly brilliant campaign and an even more staggering election victory is stumbling and bumbling its way through its first months as a new administration with nary a sign that a single thing they’ve done, announced or planned is having the slightest effect.
    Frankly, it’s beyond frightening.  When Paul Krugman, the New York Times’ economist/columnist, wonders aloud if these guys know what they are doing, well, to coin a phrase “Houston (and the rest of us) we have a problem.” I know this is going to make the starry-eyed Obama fans angry but I have to ask: Do you think maybe the election was more about how smart David Axelrod was and less about how prepared his candidate actually was to lead this nation?
    Meanwhile as Rome proverbially burns, the talking heads of the American “punditocracy” are having a field day. They’re kind of like the new Stock Brokers. They get paid whether they are right or wrong. They blather and bleat every day about the recession and unemployment;  they scream at each other across the ideological divide, encouraged to step on each others’ words by gleeful anchors who clearly understand that, if we were to end up agreeing on what to do, there’d be no show.
    This is no easy context for our President and it is no easy context for us. The system which has always sustained us is collapsing. Our banking system which was our bedrock, has failed us. It’s the new order: They fail. We bail …throwing good hundreds of billions after bad, naively believing that by saving their asses we will change their behavior. But it doesn’t happen. They are still squirrely about lending money and instead of forcing them to do it (strings attached) we are turning them into corporate welfare bums by giving them money and expecting nothing in return.
And, as this madness ensues, our brilliantly-spoken new President assures us that if we fix healthcare and create millions of jobs everything will be fine.  But it won’t. It won’t be fine until the very broken and dysfunctional banking and credit systems are fixed.
    It is going to require a fundamental change in approach to make that happen. We need to get serious about regulation and oversight. We can’t hire the same jokers who made the mess and expect that they’ll fix it. Look at the tax-evading Treasury Secretary and wonder with me: What was the President thinking when he picked him?  The man’s clueless. He’s the butt of SNL skits. He is not the solution.
    The solution is hard-nosed taxpayer (read government) intervention and expectation and that’s where the fundamental change is needed. We have always avoided government take-overs of things. We have always believed that the system would fix itself. Yet, even as a few, sane suggestions of that order begin to percolate, fears are raised about “nationalization.”  We don’t have to nationalize banks to make them work. We just need to regulate them… even regulate them severely for a while. It’s not even being attempted!
    In America, small business accounts for the paychecks of 140 million people. Small business owners are the backbone of the country; they are the payers of the people’s healthcare (though why they should be only God knows); but they are the people being hit the hardest by the banking and credit systems’ arrogant self-preservation strategies. Lines of credit are not being renewed; loans are being called, mortgage refinancing is not occurring and, incredibly, Obama and Company are talking about raising taxes on this vital segment. It’s time they started working to save it.