Economics and Society 101: US policies under Obama


By ARTHUR BOQUIREN

The topic really is on the direction of U.S. imperialism under the presidency of Barak Obama who will assume the US presidency soon. Some readers understandably prefer the current title. Using whichever of the two frameworks or title, however, will not invalidate the content of this column.

The direction of U.S. policies under Obama has four basic characteristics.

Firstly , the country will remain imperialists but this time it will become relatively green as an imperialist nation. Instead of adopting technologies unselectively, American capitalism under Obama will embark on a direction that has been increasingly popular in recent years: green technologies and technologies that protect the environment.

American capitalism will in fact seek more: it will aspire to be the leader in green technologies. In contrast, years earlier, it has continually rejected a mainly anthropogenic explanation of the ongoing global warming.

This should not be strange because not all of capitalism is founded on fossil fuels. There are green capitalists because not all of capitalism derive their profits from non-green capital. In fact, green products and technologies have a market. They represent the new products on the block that have the greatest potentials for earning profits today.

There is even a race among the great country powers for one of them to become the great green super power capitalist.

Secondly , in the face of an economic crises widely described as worse than the great depression, U.S. imperialism will have to repair or build social or national solidarity on its home front. An economic depression can trigger a widespread social unrest. It can even trigger a revolution. The situation today is similar to the great depression of the 1930s when the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt adopted populist policies. For instance, under the Roosevelt presidency two key laws provided relief to workers under the first great depression: the first one was on social security and the second on trade union rights.

The U.S. Social Security Act created promises of economic security for the elderly and the sick. It is similar to our version of the SSS that makes the same promise and never mind if the government reneged on the promise for several times. At the same time, the U.S. Wagner Act under the Roosevelt administration recognized workers rights to organize unions, engage in collective bargaining and participate in strikes. The latter is consistent with the Barak Obama policy posture today of seeking an increase in the minimum wage, indexing wages to inflation, protecting striking workers, ensuring the freedom to unionize, and the like.

Concern for the survival of the system is paramount over other concerns in a situation of crisis.

Thirdly , wars of aggression will continue under Obama. This column has discussed the matter in earlier issues of Nordis. This time, however, the combatants will don reconstruction clothes and will be more precise in their war against the Al Qaeda and the Talibans. The priority targets are countries like Iran and Afghanistan.

The U.S. in the time of the once popular Franklin Delano Roosevelt continued to occupy semi-colonies like the Philippines. Similarly, there is no reason why it will stop occupying semi-colonies under the equally popular Barak Obama.

Lastly or fourthly , the Barak Obama presidency will enforce pump-priming measures a la Keynesian. There have been statements made by Obama to this effect and this was the same policy framework that the U.S. adopted during the great depression of the 1930s with Roosevelt at the helm of leadership. Pump-priming is the use of government funds to generate employment. Franklin Roosevelt has used this policy and conventional economists have questioned whether or not the policy has been economically effective. However, even if they are not economically effective, the policies will be part of the Obama presidency because they are needed to enhance social cohesion and national solidarity. #

(The writer maintains a blog at http://www.geocities.com/arturoboquiren. Comments can be coursed through http://www.nordis.net, artboquiren2040@yahoo.com, and +63927-536-8431)

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