Jobs are down. Housing prices are down. Credit is hard to get. Companies are going bankrupt. It's all over the news. What are the causes of this latest recession, and who - if anyone - is to blame? One of the barriers to reaching consensus on how to move forward is that liberals and conservatives are imposing very different narratives on recent history.
Neither side is wrong, but both sides leave out important information - or at least have different points of emphasis that feed into pre-existing biases. On the one hand, liberals blame the casino culture of wall street, ruthless businessmen, and outright fraud in the private sector. They advocate additional financial regulations. On the other hand, conservatives are quick to point out that the regulatory agencies already in place did not do their jobs; the true problem is government corruption. Furthermore, it was government overregulation that initiated the housing market collapse in the first place. When banks are required to reach a certain quota of mortgages for racial minorities, whether they can pay or not, it makes them weaker and vulnerable to slight downturns. According to the conservative narrative, banks and other companies were almost forced into bundling and hiding assets in order to survive. Overleveraging, interdependence, and flawed economic simulation programs built by former physicists have also been blamed for the collapse.
Moving forward, again very different stories are in play. Democrats blame the old policies of President Bush and now seek to spend massive amounts of money to "jump start" the economy again. Republicans point out that Bush's greatest sin was overspending - something the democrats are now outdoing him on. They claim that overspending may lead to sudden inflation, making all of our current problems much worse. Furthermore, by picking winners and losers (not everyone gets a bailout) the free market is not able to eliminate inefficiency, prolonging our malaise. Democrats counter by pointing out the urgent nature of the problem - and like Bush before them - claim to merely be holding off catastrophy so the economy can settle gradually and we can adjust. Democrats accuse Republicans of hypocricy and political expediency (many republicans voted for the first round of bailouts), while Republicans blame Democrats of having a secret agenda to use this crisis as an excuse to socialize everything (this is not really all that secret if you know where to look).
What the American people need to realize before fighting each other is that many of them only know half the story. Discuss things first. Some people are merely uninformed or even misinformed. Don't rely only on party leaders for information; talk to each other. Then you will better understand the problem and we can speak with a unified voice.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.