Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Y2K Bug

Does ANYBODY remember back when Bill Clinton was still President of the United States and EVERYBODY was worried that somehow our newly computerized world would come crashing down around our ears because the gurus who designed the beasts never took into consideration that their designs would survive to the turn of the century?
I know, that's so far back in ancient history now that it seems almost pointless to even remember it. But something else happened back in the "Year 2000" that does seem to have come back to haunt us this far into the future. Y2K was Bill Clinton's last year in office. It has significance now because his wife Hillary is running a campaign that I am convinced is based on an undercurrent of feeling in this country that what we need to do to correct all of the problems introduced by Bush and the Republican extremists is to REBOOT BACK TO THE YEAR 2000 and do it over again. I think Hillary must have the Y2K bug! Her clock didn't update at midnight December 31, 1999.
I cite as an example a discussion in TPM Cafe concerning a letter from Barak Obama dated March 22, 2007, addressed to Fed Chair Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that makes some suggestions concerning the looming financial crisis relating to the mortgage foreclosure problem. This letter references Obama's colleagues on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs but doesn't identify Obama as a member of that committee, nor is he shown on that committee on either Obama's own Senate website or on Wikipedia, so one might suspect that Obama's interest in this matter was political. Yet the interesting point is that Obama was citing the problem as it existed at the time and proposing measures that Bernenke and Paulson could take to deal with the existing threats.
The TPM Cafe post triggered a debate in the comments section where in true-Democrat style, commenters quibble over who came first, Obama in this speech or a Clinton speech which she gave on March 15, 2007. The bickering in these comments might be laughable if it weren't so childishly pathetic, but I tend to think it overlooks a key issue. Obama's letter suggests that the problem be dealt with from that point forward. Clinton is proposing that the problem would be solved if the government did what it should have been doing all along. She links foreclosures in 2006 to healthcare costs, job loss, pay cuts, and stagnant wages and reflects rosily back on the 1990s. She goes on to suggest that the solution is to loan money more responsibly and to restore the FHA role in mortgages. She advocates for better disclosure and better counseling for those not qualified for FHA loans. Then she proposes a time-out for borrowers in trouble. Time out? Predatory lenders, go to your room?
More like, you know, what we really need is to reboot back to when Bill was president, back to the year 2000, and start again the right way. That's a great idea, Hillary, one a lot of us can associate with. It's just that... well... how do you propose we undo the mess we're in now? Can we really wipe it all clean by rebooting the PC? Is that the "safety net" that you are suggesting we toss out there if worse comes to worst?
To be fair here, I do see where Hillary goes with this speech. She goes on to talk about micro-credit, about developing more opportunity for investment in the small business sector. She advocates for eliminating the brutal effects on families and individuals of sudden unexpected healthcare costs. This makes an interesting contrast to her earlier comments about the Bush tax cuts and the increasing wealth for the CEOs and corporate profits. But can the damage that has been done in the Bush years really be that easily undone? Is it really as simple as replacing the post-Y2K Republican operating system with the pre-Y2K Clinton one?
There is, though, a sense of deja vu here for an old-timer like myself. I do remember the prevailing pessimism after the Reagan/Bush era. I remember feeling the very same way that I feel now about the US economy. I remember wondering how we could ever rise again as a prosperous nation. I remember the deep pessimism. Yet under Bill Clinton, the US economy did turn around. There was a very long boom-time while Clinton was president.
I know that we have to do it again somehow. I don't know how, but I know we need to do it and I know the blessings will come when we begin doing it right. The Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress - and many of the Democrats as well - have been leading us on a path of greed through a time of self-focus on personal wealth at any cost. Many believed that to be the way to national wealth. God Bless America. It didn't work. The pessimism is back because the majority was left out of the wealth formula. The majority was the means to wealth, not its beneficiary.
But I find it hard to believe that the answer is to reboot back to Y2K.

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