External Shock Happens

Dave Johnson

The Calculated Risk blog takes a survey of all the bad news that could hit the economy, in Crisis Fatigue? Make a list, (click through for details, etc.)

• Risks from the earthquake in Japan.

• Higher oil prices and a possible supply shock.

• U.S. Housing Crisis.

• The European financial crisis.

• State and local government cutbacks.

• Possible Federal government cutbacks (even shutdown).

• Inflation (a two sided coin).

There are many more I think, please add them in the comments. (You don’t need to tell us an asteroid could hit us.)

External shock happens. The Japanese earthquake should teach us that unanticipated events can happen at any time and we should be ready. We should be prepared. We should have a strong, modern infrastructure. We should have a strong government, ready to jump in and take action. We should have a strong “safety net.” We should especially have strong regulations and enforcement, making sure that the public is protected from natural events, major accidents, disease, fire, financial crisis and industrial disaster. Building codes, fire regulations, financial protections and regulations, occupational safety codes, inspectors and inspectors and inspectors and inspectors, food safety codes, design standards, the whole list. All of those things exist because civilized society is supposed to learn from history.

Dismantling Government

Instead of learning from recent crises and strengthening government our politicians and business leadership are acting like this is the right time to dismantle our government. (As if there ever was a right time to do that.)

I guess they think we don’t need government anymore. Corporate profits are at an all-time high and the wealthy are wealthier than ever. Campaign contributions are higher than ever. The economy in DC and the Wall Street area and the Hamptons is really humming. Luxury goods are flying off the shelves. So everything must be OK.

What better time to cut bank of government services for We, the People? With the economy doing so darn well, what do people need things like health care and unemployment and Food Stamps and heating oil subsidies and Social Security for, anyway?

What better time to stop government job-creation, job-training, unemployment compensation and outsourcing-offset programs? What could we possibly need those for?

What better time to explain that “We’re Broke,” so we can’t invest anything in infrastructure or education. In fact, we should privatize both. Why should government provide teachers and police and firefighters and public health and sanitation services anyway? And why should the people have common wealth? Wealth is for the few, not the losers and parasites.

What better time to dismantle unions — the people who brought us the weekend. Who needs weekends? Any Republican officeholder will explain that weekends and pensions and paying people decent wages hold business back.

And what’s with this voting? Let’s get rid of voter-registration and student voting and other things that let the losers and parasites have a say? What good are they?

We Should Be Shoring Up, Not Dismantling Government

If Japan teaches us anything it is that things can happen at any moment, and when they do we all need each other. We should be shoring up our public structures, our infrastructure, our protections and empowerments. That is what government is and what it does, and we need it.

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