Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain leading Obama on the economy as common sense lights itself on fire

Sorry, Sports Guy, I had to borrow your catchphrase, because things have really gotten that silly.

Today's news brings us word that John McCain (McBush, McPow, McDouche) has opened a lead in polls asking Americans who they think would be a better steward of our economy. As NYT columnist Paul Krugman points out, this is mainly Obama's doing. It's hard to get folks on your side when you vacation in Hawai'i during the election and if your economy speechs are so riddled with statistics that the average person gets lost in the numbers. To Obama's credit, however, he's hitting back with some solid ads in battleground states (saw one last night - it was very good).

What's most troubling about this turn of events is what seems to at the core of McCain's bump - offshore drilling and gas prices. We've damn near hit stagflation (stagnant job growth + inflation) on account of rising gas prices and a U.S. economy that's struggling to readjust. To an economic layperson like myself, the root of our economic problems appears geared to our dependence on oil. Our economy is built around cheap oil, and it so thoroughly infused in our daily lives that when the price of oil jumps, not only does the cost of everything jump, but also our business stop growing.

The solution, one would think, is simple. To borrow a term from conservative economist and former Fed Chairman Allen Greenspan, we need a little creative destruction (I know, he didn't figure this one out, but his book explains it well). Our nation needs to restructure the economy not just to ween itself off oil, but to also to make itself generally more efficient. We've seen what happens when we tie our economic fortunes to one type of energy: we fail. It's like all those Red Sox teams that were built on power hitting alone - great on paper, but utterly decimated by good pitching. The rising price of oil, to make a terrible analogy, is like good pitching.

And this is why it's utterly mystifying why John McCain should be considered stronger on the economy. The sum total of his economic and energy policy lately has been off-shore drilling, which equates to continuing dependency on oil (to be clear, he's also a tax-cut-aholic, but energy is the main concern now). Are we merely so frightened by the price at the pump that we're willing to do anything to pay less for gas, or are we Americans truly ignorant regarding the economy? To borrow from Simmons again, common sense is about to light itself on fire, and probably jump out the window to make sure. This is absurd.

Here's to hoping that Obama gets the message and clears up his act. He's a gifted orator, he knows the problems with the economy, and he has a better way to fix them (or at least a credible one). We can't afford four years of McCain.

No comments: