National Commentary

Domino Effect Toppling Ireland

By every indication, the global economy and global stability are still very much at risk of major new waves of deterioration.


By every indication, the global economy and global stability are still very much at risk of major new waves of deterioration.

The unraveling European sovereign debt crisis, now leading to old-fashioned class warfare clashes in the streets of Ireland and soon other countries, is, like the ongoing housing crisis in the U.S., still the consequence of the massive, unconscionable practices that lead up to the 2008 global financial meltdown.

Financial market observers have insisted that the relatively puny recovery measures to avert the worst economic depression in planetary history were effective, and they point to numbers indicating modest “recovery.”

However, the numbers, even for the U.S., may be technically in positive territory, but are by no means sufficient to fuel an actual recovery. Unemployment remains stuck at about one-in-five adults in the U.S. population (unemployed or underemployed) while housing sales numbers continue to drop and the depths of the fraud and ineptitude that went into the housing crisis has still to be found.

When the history of the last two years gets written later this century, it will record that the biggest failure was the lack of political will in the U.S. to stop the hemorrhaging and jump start a genuine, sustainable recovery.

In other words, the so-called “stimulus” was not nearly big enough, not by a long shot.

One of the first symptomatic consequences was this month’s midterm election results. Despite the meritorious effects of the initial stimulus effort, it was not enough to translate into concrete improvements for enough American lives to maintain their support for staying the course of the administration’s efforts.

All the bold talk when Obama first entered office and rolled up his sleeves to handle the mess that he’d inherited – all the talk about national infrastructure rebuilding, including high-speed rail systems and new clean power grids – quickly vanished under the unyielding pressure of Wall Street and its allies in the Republican Party.

The two conspired to launch the faux populist political movement, composed mostly of predictable opponents to Obama during the preceding election, that used rude and offensive means to disrupt the political process in the name of stopping government recovery efforts. Lest we forget, a pro-Wall Street commentator for CNBC, NBC-TV’s business reporting arm, is given credit with being the godfather of the so-called Tea Party.

These measures proved effective to derail an implementation of the level of “stimulus” actually comparable to the unparalleled excess of devious sub-prime lending practices and the entry of their tainted derivatives into the global financial markets.

All talk of any new “stimulus” efforts is now completely off the table as, once again, Wall Street and its GOP/Tea Party allies have stolen the argument, claiming totally gratuitously and falsely that the size of the federal deficit is a bigger problem than unemployment and the ongoing domino effect of the sub-prime crisis on Europe and beyond.

So, while Wall Street presses for massive structural cuts in basic entitlements for average Americans, such as Medicare and Social Security, it commands its GOP stooges to block an extension of unemployment benefits to the millions who can’t find work.

This is a prescription for disaster. Wall Street’s only concern is that while the economy continues to unravel, it stays in control of the overall process, avoiding chaos and genuine (not phony Tea Party) rebellion while it systematically sticks it to the middle class and disadvantaged everywhere.

Meanwhile, the American people remain distracted by unprecedented levels of Roman Empire-style “breads and circuses,” unwilling to see beyond their own continuing addiction to shallow materialistic cravings and susceptibility to turning away from the real world in favor of 24-hour sports channels, mind-numbing “reality TV” mediocrity and related Hollywood pablum.

They are told by right-wing religious institutions that they must accept “personal responsibility” for their plight, and of course, being incapable of improving their lot, the net effect is to redouble their flights from reality.

In this context, the Democrats, progressive religious and trade union leaders can be assigned blame for not doing enough to push back on behalf of the middle class and poor. But it is not they who embody the quintessential evil that is now threatening the very viability of civilization as we know it.