Sunday, July 11, 2010


It's the word "the," and it appears a several times in the front-page story "Wall St. Hiring in Anticipation of an Economic Recovery":

While much of the country remains fixated on the bleak employment picture, hiring is beginning to pick up in the place that led the economy into recession -- Wall Street....

"I think we're seeing some hiring in anticipation of better times," said Rae Rosen, a regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "Wall Street typically hires in anticipation of the recovery, and there is a sense that the economy has bottomed out and is slowly improving."

The increase in hiring and cautious optimism stand in sharp contrast to the mood among workers in other fields, where jobs have been slow to return or are disappearing altogether....

As hiring has picked up on Wall Street, salary packages recalling the boom years are reappearing at the most senior levels. Richard Stein, president of Global Sage, an executive search firm, said corporate clients had offered compensation packages worth more than $1 million annually to 12 candidates in recent weeks....

As the nascent increase in jobs suggests, the recovery is still very fragile.

... some banks are hiring in stages, with one eye on the economy....

The reality is that right now there is no such thing as the recovery, or even the economy. There's our economy and there's their economy. Their economy is in recovery. Ours isn't -- not even close.

The vast majority of Americans -- teabaggers, Firedoglake readers, centrists -- understand this. What's disastrous right now is that liberalism is being blamed by the loudest and most self-confident of these groups, the teabaggers -- the only ones who seem to have a clear explanation of it, along with the megaphone to sell their explanation. What's even more disastrous is that the teabaggers' paranoid, conspiratorial notion -- drawing to a lage extent on Glenn Beck, and ultimately on the previously obscure lunatic polemicist Cleon Skousen -- actually almost appears to be borne out by the facts, because we have a president whose "liberalism" is actually a combination liberalism (belief and Keynesian economics) and a desire to be excessively solicitous of Wall Street that closely mimics the lunatic beliefs of Beck, Skousen, and the 'baggers.

They think the world is run by a cabal that is simultaneously capitalist and communist, and thus willing to cause ordinary people great pain in order to accrue power. Our president's worldview mixes moderate liberalism and Wall Street worship -- and he seems oblivious at times to ordinary people's economic pain. It's as if we stumbled on the one person we could elect as president and the one crisis he'd face that perfectly match the craziest crackpot theories -- and, at the same time, our biggest media mogul put a guy on the air who was staggeringly driven and ambitious, and allowed his entire media empire to back that nutjob's lunatic theorizing, all for the sake of bringing down the president.

It really is a perfect storm. And if the bank bailouts are in the process of ending a lot of political careers, as another Times front page story argues, it's not because the rabble are ignorant, as Joe Klein argues -- or, rather, it's not just because the rabble are ignorant. It's because parlous times inevitably bring out extremism and crazy thinking, and it's leaders' responsibility to find policies that seem to be addressing the public's real needs, and to persuade us to remain calm and give those policies a chance to work.

FDR understood that. Barack Obama, so far, doesn't. His policies aren't giving people a sense that he gets it. If you fail at that in a deep crisis -- and if the problems and inequities seem to be getting worse, not better, as Wall Street's little party suggests they are -- the crazies will run riot, inevitably.

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