I prefer Imagine…

You say that what FDR did would be wrong-headed today without saying why. Many economists, including of course Nobel Prize winning Paul Krugman think that is exactly what is called for today. When no one else will spend, the government has to; they are the only ones with the ability to spend to get the economy going. You reject it out of hand without giving a reason. I agree that the current Republicans would never pass it (or ANYTHING ELSE, which is my point), and that doesn’t mean it isn’t what is needed.
TARP sort of worked, in that we got most of it paid back, but it was essentially a huge loan at interest rates well below market value, and we gave it to them with absolutely no strings attached, so it can just happen again. Both parties are guilty. If bailouts like this are necessary, as TARP and the auto-industry both were, they should include provisions (yes, regulations) to make sure they don’t happen again, to prevent too big to fail. (The auto bailout actually was more successful than TARP; it saved several industries and we were paid back I believe more fully than with TARP; yet the right-wing things the bank bailouts were wonderful and they still hate the auto bailouts, even though they worked).
On entitlements, social security contributed nothing to our current mess, and is fully funded much farther out than anything else we’re dealing with, and shortfalls way out can easily be solved by removing the cap. Medicare is a larger problem, and it can be solved by joining the rest of the developed world with some kind of universal system that covers everyone. The right loves to talk about all the trouble medicare is in and how much health care costs are rising. All true, and what they never tell you is that health care costs in the private sector are rising much faster than in medicare. I hate the euphemism of reform for entitlements, because what they really mean is cuts (there are actual reforms we should do that would save money, i.e. negotiating for lower drug prices, but what the Republicans mean when they say reform is really cuts–they want nothing more than to destroy the social safety net and move that money to the top one percent.) So the problem is really dealing with health care costs in a sane way, not with medicare in particular. Immigration is tricky, and yes, we need clear laws that we then enforce.
On defense, we need to cut it, but the defense contractors have so much power in our government that will be almost impossible to accomplish. Yet when we spend about as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, and when most of the others in the top ten in spending are our allies, it is an absurd burden on our society to spend as much as we do on defense.
As to your first two questions, the empowerment looks like a representative government where the will of the people (and not corporate donors) is expressed by the elected representatives. It was never perfect in America, and there have been times when were were much closer than we are now.
How do we get there? Well, OWS has changed the conversation. The NPR show On the Media reported this week that in the weeks before OWS began in news media across the land unemployment was barely mentioned, while budget cuts were talked of constantly. And four weeks in to OWS news media across the land are talking about jobs first and foremost. So you begin by changing the conversation, which in turn can lead to real change. Ultimately, we may need a constitutional amendment saying that corporations are not people (see movetoamend.org). It’s possible, though not super likely, that such change could happen relatively quickly.
Of course there are market oriented solutions. Read the Dean Baker link in my last post. I’m not a communist, and we have moved so far in the opposite direction that moving too far that way right now is the least of my worries. We need sane markets, not simply ones controlled by those with the most money.

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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