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The Blame Game, American Style

The Blame Game, American Style

Elliot Spitzer, who is much better written than on TV, looks at Obama’s recent international trip and concludes that the US has a newly diminished place in the world order.

In the choice between China and the United States that was being made by many nations, even some of our most stalwart allies, such as Germany, were more than willing to rush into the arms of an ascendant China and align themselves against our declining power. On issues of trade and currency, which is where the battles of today are waged, nations were choosing the future, not the past.

He blames Wall Street.

So why is Wall Street responsible? The culmination of the Wall Street economic model was not just the financial services cataclysm of 2008-09. It is also the long-term decline of the U.S. economy when compared to our international competitors. The four critical elements of the Wall Street ideology were: the total deregulation of financial services, dramatically lower marginal tax rates for upper income and corporate taxpayers, dramatically reduced social investment by government—even in critical areas such as infrastructure and education—and only minimal cost reductions in entitlement programs, because the political cost of these cuts was too great to be borne.

The result: financial bubbles, enormous deficits, lagging competitiveness, distorted income distribution, dependence on foreign capital to fund our debt

I’m not so sure. The US’ economic difficulties can be traced directly to the foot of Wall Street. But do they deserve more blame than the politicians who enabled them or the culture that has created and fostered the new entitlement mentality? We, Americans, don’t seem to want to deal with actual problems facing the world. We don’t want the responsibility. As Michael Kinsley noted about the midterm elections, “Some people are voting… for calorie-free chocolate cake, and some are voting for fat-free ice cream. Neither option is actually available.” Washingto can offer us such inane options because we’ll still buy them. And our international stock will keep falling. Until we the people are willing to face the problems head on, there’s no one to blame but us.

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