When I was over in UK, I was asked endlessly how I liked Obama. I answered that I preferred him greatly over anyone else nominated recently and that was taken, accurately, as faint praise. My major objection was that he did not seem up to the weight of the task, and that was more in sorrow than in anger. Explaining my hesitation, I compared him to a kindly doctor steeped in the wisdom of the past generations, but not up to the brilliant surgeon upon whom the life of the patient depended. I concede that he expresses himself in terms redolent of most of the ills of the age, but I foresee decades of human waste and economic sloth as a result of the failures of the likes of Larry Summers and Milton Friedman (not to mention Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan and even Ayn Rand). And the result of decades of close embrace of the profession of economics by the large corporations via the business schools has left us with a religious faith in the automatic free market that was already threatening us with economic collapse nearly a century ago.
From those lessons we have been turned by the power of corporate greed. Just as in the age of Louis Pasteur and Paul Ehrlich over 100 years ago in medicine, the received wisdom of the Profession is wrong and again there are millions that will pay with their lives for the simplistic belief in the received wisdom. The faith of the 18th Century is not sufficient to deal with the flexible machinations of those who think that simple maxims would carry us through the consequences of greed and predation run wild. Even the New Deal would not carry us through the panic that is just starting. We need more and better today. We need a smarter, more flexible man than FDR and those (alas) are very few and far between.