Why the Economy Doesn’t Matter


Okay – obviously it does. We still have weak economic growth, high unemployment, and a lack of consumer confidence. However, as Keynes pointed out decades ago, and as Paul Krugman recently referenced, due to “use, decay, and obsolescence” economies eventually fix themselves. Basically, as products, machinery, or equipment grows old, breaks down, or becomes obsolete – it needs to be replaced. This means businesses and individuals start buying more products, and the economy returns itself to normal.

I bring this up because so often the question in the Presidential race is who is best suited to fix this economy. Not to say this issue shouldn’t be addressed, but it overshadows so many other issues. Since we are in a recession, we as a country forget there are other problems and issues a President must address.

The United States is facing an education crisis; our standing on the world stage continually dropping. Not to mention there are underfunded and understaffed schools across the country.  Both sides have offered little more than campaign platitudes, and good feeling rhetoric like “Hire more teachers!” In fairness to the President though, he does have his Race to the Top initiative, which focuses on increasing funding for k-12 education. (He did a terrible job communicating details of the plan during the debate) Similarly, Democrats have been trying to increase funding for Pell grants, and are working to  keep interest rates low on student loans. Conversely, the Ryan plan slashes education, including cuts to programs like Head Start and Pell grants. Also, we have seen Republican Governors attempt to balance their budgets by getting rid of teachers and other public employees.

The next President is also likely to make two Supreme Court nominees, which means whomever wins this election, his stance on social issues will have a greater bearing on policy than normal. This is troubling, especially considering we have absolutely no idea what Mitt Romney actually believes on the issue of abortion, and in the debate, Paul Ryan hinted he would be in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade. Furthermore, as state courts contemplate the issue of gay marriage, it is only a matter of time before the Supreme Court weighs in. Yes, jobs are important, but it is also important that women continue to have the right to make decisions about their body, and it is also important we work toward giving all persons equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.

Finally, as I’ve argued before, the greatest threat to this country is not the debt, it’s not China, and contrary to many Catholic groups, it’s not gay people – it’s climate change. Climate change not only threatens the lives  of people across the globe, but it has and will continue to devastate the world economy. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to fix, and the harder it will be to reverse. Addressing climate change will be the single most difficult task our country has faced. Not because we don’t know how to fix it, or it’s a problem on too big of a scale to solve – it’s because one of the political parties doesn’t even believe it exists. Even though the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in support of climate change, the right insists it must be a left-wing conspiracy.

So as election day nears, remember, this country faces more challenges than just the economy. They are challenges of a type that being a businessman doesn’t automatically qualify you to address. As voters we should elect a President who believes in funding the eduction of future generations, not cutting it in the name of fiscal responsibility. We should elect a President who believes in protecting the rights of women and extending equal rights to all persons, not suppressing individual liberties to cater to the extreme wing of the base. And although both parties have stalled on the issue of climate change, for God’s sake, we should elect a President who sides with the scientists (and the rest of the developed world for that matter) and recognizes the threat is real, not one who believes the entire scientific community is pulling some giant prank.

P.S. I also believe Obama is better suited to fix the economy – See here, here, here, and here

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3 thoughts on “Why the Economy Doesn’t Matter

  1. Excellent post. Being a CEO in business has diametrically opposite goals and needs as running a government. All of “Mittens” business strengths will prove a weakness in heading up a government.

    And don’t for a minute believe that Romney/Ryan wish anything else than a total override of Roe-V. Wade, and would eliminate a woman’s right to an abortion, for ANY reason. Romney has made it clear that one of his DAY 1 priorities is to cancel funding for Planned Parenthood.

    Niether man really can change the economy. They can throw out platitudes till the cows come home, but until wage earners feel confident in their jobs, and they see some raises, “ain’t nothing going to change. The economy is 70% driven by consumers; and if the consumers aren’t spending, the economy goes nowhere.

    Thanks for a great perspective.

  2. I think this article is good and I agree with you and your discussion of climate change as well as what can be done with the economy. I do disagree though that there is nothing that can be done about our economy. In fact Keynes in General Theory as well as Paul Krugman in his book The Return of Depression Economics may argue you’re point a little different.

    Keynes understood that there were cycles in the economy but he also believed that when we were at the bottom we could affect change by investing in our economy. “Pyramid Building” was the phrase he used. Krugman understands this as well.

    The next president has a responsibility to do something with the economy. You discuss things getting old and the need to replace them; well only can consumers simply go out and buy new things. When our bridges collapse, our roads deteriorate, buildings become vacant and bring down the value of entire neighborhoods, people cannot simply buy new things to get us out of those situations. I believe this is the debate and the question between both Pres. Obama and Romney. How do we improve our economy with these things occurring?

    Our economy definitely matters as much as climate change because who invests in the costly technology that can reduce our carbon emissions. The average person does not have the money or the time to invest in solar panels, geothermal, solar hot water, electric and/or hybrid cars. It is the government that has the power and latitude to step in and make these changes on a policy and economic level through either subsidies or taxation.

    And I also agree with @barneysday that running a company is different than running a country. Even more, running a company where you buy failing companies is much different than running a country in a recession. I would hate for Romney to lay us all off and then sell to the highest bidding country.

    • I completely agree with you on the economics. Obviously the President and government in general can have huge impact on the economy. And for the most part that it is what many of my other blogposts go into. I brought in the “use, decay, and obsolescence” line more as a transition into talking about other issues we face as a country, not actual economic policy.

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