Saturday, May 13, 2006

Many of the Commentary Writers of This Blog are Pessimistic

...or at least it seems to me—and maybe rightly so. But David Brooks has written a brilliant column in yesterday’s New York Times that exudes optimism. Let me summarize it for you. Let me say that some of the ideas I don’t agree with but listen anyhow. Brooks, a neo-con, says he’s optimistic because:

o The International Monetary Fund predicts the world economy will grow by 4.9 percent [in the next several years]…which would be the second-fastest annual rate in three decades.

o Free institutions spread more quickly last year than in any year since 1972 says Freedom House.

o The number of wars with at least 1,000 deaths in battle has dropped by 80% since 1992.

o Air pollution levels are plummeting; over the last three years we’ve had the lowest level of ozone smog violations on record.

o Instead of the temper-tantrum left taking control of the Democratic party what he calls “Clinton centrists” are taking over. And in Chicago, Hillary laid out an economic agenda that Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute called “remarkably centrist” including a return to “pay as you go” budget rules (Congress couldn’t raise spending or cut taxes unless it filled the hole in the budget right away, which Brooks terms “the only effective way to restore fiscal balance.”

o Robert Rubin and others have begun what they call the Hamilton Project which is churning out ideas in the mainstream, like free trade with a forthcoming book by Gene Sperling and Rahm Emanuel on how to increase savings and such.

On the Republican side,”most of the news will be made by John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani” showing that “[t]his is a party in the midst of fundamental change.” Also Mark Kirk “and other Republicans unveiled a suburban agenda to help suburban families, not K street lobbyists.” Brooks says on the Cato website there’s an intriguing debate on fundamentals by David Frum and Bruce Bartlett. “These free marketers acknowledge that in an aging society it’s going to be hard to cut the size of government, so they ask what do we do now?...[I]t may be time to cut the payroll tax and raise the top rates, to shift the burden away from those who bear the brunt of trade and immigration.” He adds, “The pseudo-populist renegades who rail against the establishment are being eclipsed by the canny establishmentarians…There’s an even bigger shift in attitudes about how politics should be done. The Stalinist on-message style is passé. The rising young politicians like Barack Obama and Lindsey Graham never talk in that predictable party-hack way. Mark Warner and Mitt Romney are building their campaigns around their ability to find common ground with political opponents.”

Given that I’ve said I don’t agree with some of his views, do you feel he has a point? It’d be fun to have John Powers, Freiderich March, even Al Harris and Lovie Leather as well as everybody else comment on this (also Jim Leahy). What do you think?


  1. Reading the Tribune today there was a line that made me scream. It said
    "But it is the question of border enforcement on which Bush is facing the greatest resistance within his own party, with division over immigration causing deep rifts inside the GOP."
    How loud do we have to yell? It is not securing the border it is holding the employers accountable and letting millions of law breakers benifit from their law breaking!
    We do not need the National Guard at the border if there are no jobs for the illegals to come here for. We have to enforce the laws, it is that easy. But the elites say "we can't round up and deport 12 million people." Who got them here? Millions go back to their countries at Christmas or to see their families we don't give them transportation then. If they don't have a job they will leave.
    If the president pushes the Congress to allow millions to stay he will lose the congress it is that simple. If they start enforcing the laws the GOP could very well pick up seats.

  2. I am optimistic by nature so I tend to find the bright points of most things. My natural optimism is sustained by avoiding TV news. I read several newspapers each day and do a fair amount of first-hand research. I consider myself well informed.

    I stopped watching TV news, particularly network news, years ago. I found it biased, uninformative, pessimistic and shallow.

    With that stated, I think there is plenty of reason for Americans to be optimistic about the future. Some of the initiatives Tom mentioned might prove to be worthwhile, but my wife and I have found we didn't need a government program or think tank initiative to make better financial decisions for our family. We just determined what we wanted to accomplish and set about doing the work we needed to perform to reach our goals.

    We don't have any special skills or credentials. We just identfied some goals and set a course toward achieving them. It has involved some sacrifice, but nothing that has altered the way we live.

    I think most people could do what we have done. One important first step is to stop viewing the "mainstream" media and don't allow the media to influence how you live.

    Do that and I think you'll find plenty of reasons to be optimistic about your future and that of this great nation.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my opinion.

  3. An optimistic message is attractive to voters. If we emphasise the positive, we boost our chance of success.

  4. Thanks Tom,

    Barak Obama may "never talk in that predictable party-hack way" but he sure votes and leads like a hack. How about:

    1) Leading the Senate in passing the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska in return for I-355 to Nowhere in the South Suburbs, against the concerns of his Will County Constituents

    2) Fighting to keep Ethanol Taxes high at a time of historically high fuel prices in Illinois. Adding over $.50 per gallon to the price we pay for fuel in Illinois.

    3) Claiming to be against fillibustering Judge Alito, then voting to fillibuster the Judge as a twisted matter of conscience. If Obama wants to fillibuster, then fillibuster. Don't say one thing and do another.

    What will it take for the media to noticing that Obama is a pork-barrelling partisan hack dedicated to the promotion of Barak Obama at the expense of the taxpayers of Illinois?


  5. the GOP will lose becaue the economy will tank without a competitive labor force. Social Security will tank becaue the "illegals" get to pay their 13.5% and get nada for their contribution. The housing boom will tank because no one will build one at Union Labor prices.

    Viva! to the people that want to work hard to earn a living. The rest of us can get to work ourselves, if we think we can compete.