ARE “WE” TOTALLY CONFUSED?
Throughout, Obama has insisted that the Internet was whatever it was that would do it all. He hangs around Google guys. He says that the “Internet was key to economic recovery”. Typically, on Dec 6, 2008, after President-Elect Obama laid out the key parts of his economic recovery plan during his weekly address, he turned to the Internet and told the country that he intends to “renew our information superhighway… It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President- because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world,”
Ah, competitiveness, beating out the other guy, what would we be without? Obama insisted that: “Better access would spread knowledge, promote entrepreneurship and make this country more competitive globally.”
OK, fast forward to March 7, 2009. Obama was interviewed by the New York Times on board Air Force One, as he was going “home”. “Obama said he did not watch much television, except basketball games. Mr. Obama rode to the White House partly on his savvy use of new technology, and he has a staff-written blog on his presidential Web site. Even so, he said he did not find blogs to be reliable, citing the economy as one example.” Obama persisted:
“Part of the reason we don’t spend a lot of time looking at blogs,” he said, “is because if you haven’t looked at it very carefully, then you may be under the impression that somehow there’s a clean answer one way or another — well, you just nationalize all the banks, or you just leave them alone and they’ll be fine.”
So, on one hand, for Obama, the Internet is both the “information superhighway”, and “spreads knowledge”, but, at the same time, he does not find “blogs to be reliable”. This is a curious juxtaposition: Nobel Prize Laureates write blogs. Actually all the information on the Internet is under the form of some sort of blog. Publications on the Internet, on what’s basically blogs, have replaced the entire scientific preprint system. Is science unreliable, and all one way, or then another? Is a “clean answer” something best avoided?
This brings the question of the coherence of the talking points. Is the Internet “superinformative” or is it “not reliable”?
Now for two significant technicalities, respectfully addressed to our economically challenged president:
1) Nobody has suggested to “nationalize all the banks”, that would be crazy. Only insolvent banks should be taken over. Thousands of banks in the USA are fine and profitable, with good managers. The credit and insolvency problem comes from the few giant banks saddled with a conspiracy with hedge funds and private equity.
Nationalization is more like taking a shower, removing all the dirt (in this case derivatives and hedge funds). In other words, nationalization of a dirty bank provides with a clean answer. Now, of course, if one does like “a clean answer one way or another” to start with, there is little hope…
For example, the giant Belgian bank Fortis was nationalized by Belgium (Fall 2008). The giant French bank BNP, the largest bank in the Eurozone (around 200,000 employees), a private bank that made 4 billion dollars of profits in 2008, bought, and now owns 75% of Fortis (March 2009). When the republicans of Bush Senior and Reagan nationalized real estate banks with the RTC trick, they kept all and any banks nationalized from three to four months, before selling them. They did this for 747 banks. Most of the credit problem in the USA now would be solved by nationalizing 4 banks, but those banks are used to send taxpayer money to unnamed friends. So those banks cannot function according to their mission as institutions of civilization, simply because there are plutocrats, and they are hungry, and their friends feed them in their hour of hunger.
2) International banking regulations forbid to “leave the banks alone and they will be fine”. And so does USA law. So that was never an option. If Obama comes across someone advising him to do, he would be better off talking to his basketball buddies.