Monday, May 04, 2009

Shirkers of the world, unite!

Any politician eager to brand Obama a "socialist" for rescuing particular industries is not likely to be well connected to those industries. If they were, they would argue that rescue is necessary for economic recovery.

The gulf between the two positions -- particularly as observed within the Republican Party, which is roundly pro-business -- is best explained by the scope of the crisis, which puts the natural relationship between government and big business in high-relief.

Normally, this relationship is obscured by market mythology and anti-government rhetoric. But when the dynamic can no longer be concealed, and the marshaling of public wealth for private gain is obvious to all, this presents the pro-business camp with a dilemma. On one hand, competitive edge is ever-sharpened by the protection of the state; on the other, this contradicts the story sold to Joe the Plumber.

From all appearances, it would seem the financial industry favored Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008, explaining much of what has happened since. This may leave the Republican Party with less of a dilemma; much of its "conservative" core is informed by domestically-based industry, not international finance.

Nevertheless, a conflict is evident at the level of Republican leadership, which doubtless includes a robust financial component, with RNC chair Michael Steele resisting pressure to label Obama a socialist for doing exactly what any industry would demand if they had the clout to do so.

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