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Pax Obama, Part Deux

Amazingly, the Republican fringe may have started to acknowledge reality: it backed down on the debt ceiling hostage scenario in which they basically held a gun to their own heads.Jon Chait explains here. But I think the main lesson is that by incremental steps Obama is forcing the GOP to recognize that they have to govern. Every small compromise they make is a surrender of their all-or-nothing fundamentalism. And a win for actually governing.Addendum: A Sully post at The Dish links to Adam Gopnik on the importance of passing some gun laws and thereby starting to change the culture of guns in the U.S., much as the cultural norms around driving drunk and using seat belts (and smoking -- who'd have thought Big Tobacco could be tamed?) have changed over the years. It's about promoting a "culture of life," as the bishops say in endorsing Obama's gun control proposals. Not one fell swoop. But changing the culture. By forcing the GOP to make any concessions the White House changes the dynamic of "cliff-diving" and hostage-taking and extremism to one that at least affords the chance to make government and society function.Now we can get back to the real news, which is that wild and crazy Notre Dame football team and its star player, Manti Te'o. The good news: he apparently got himself a real girlfriend right after the fake love of his life died so tragically. Bad news: they broke up. So it goes with rebounds.

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Ann:I am not a fervent believer in supply side economics myself. People do not invest unless they hope to have some return on their investment. Right now they facea) a psychological barrier (people do not believe the economy will really take of under the present conditions)b) lack of demand in the economy due to excess debt. Prof. Krugman will tell you that the state can replace private demand through public spending. Austrian economists believe this will only lead misallocation of economic resources and to an artificial expansion that can will not produce any lasting growth. Choose whom you want to believe. Keep in mind that if Keynesian stimulus does not work, Prof. Krugman will always tell you that it was not big enough.

Carlo --I agree that Krugman sometimes sounds too optimistic. He sounds like he thinks some of his projections are all but bound to happen. If he were a thorough Keynesian, however, he'd admit that nothing is sure in economics. Oh he does admit that at times, but his expectations seem to belie that belief. On the other hand optimism in the face of uncertainty is part and parcel of the capitalist system -- capitalists are people who take risks knowing that they can lose and sometimes will, but have a bit of courage in spite of it. That's what I think is lacking in today's American capitalists -- the courage of their capitalist convictions. They're too chicken to invest in very unsure circumstances, so they blame the government for their woes. Not wise, not fair. It's their failue of nerve that's holding us back.It will be interesting to see what happens in Japan now that it has finally taken the plunge out of austerity. (Oh, lordy, what a horrible, horrible metaphor :-)

Ann:asking people to invest their money without a reasonable prospect of not losing it is asking a lot. As for Japan, I think it's going to blow. See http://www.cnbc.com/id/100391704

Carlo --There is "investment" and Investment. When one but safe, pre-owned stock in the stock market that technically is not Investment with a capital I. The latter is investing in new enterprses that have yet ot prove their value, and if you bite, you stand to lose your money. That sort of investment really pays off (when it does pay off), as it should because the risks for initial offerings are almost always greater.The latter sort of investment is what we need now -- especially in alternate energy since the whole future depends on it. But the current monied guys just ain't adventurous enough.

Ann:you are not listening. Even the boldest venture capitalists need to have some reasonable hope of recovering their investment. In the current economic conditions, an with the current government, many reasonable people feel that there is no such hope. That's just a fact.

Earlier, Frank Gibbon had written,Well, progressive and liberal Catholics could at least raise their voices against abortion as they with capital punishment and water boarding. Why not?And I had replied, "Indeed."... and now I stand corrected (and pleased), because Mollie has written an extremely thoughtful and sensitive post further up. Thank you for your witness.

Carlo --Let's consider alternative energy. Venture capitalists, if they were really the imaginative sort that a functioning capitalist system requires would see that supporting research in alternative energy would pay off long term. But few of them do.

"Venture capitalists, if they were really the imaginative sort that a functioning capitalist system requires would see that supporting research in alternative energy would pay off long term."The ones I've happened to run across in my travels through life haven't had very long time horizons.

Jim P. --I think you've hit on a sad characteristic of most of us these days -- the inability to look very far into the future. It's part of the hedonism of the times. :-( It's why we refuse to consider the dire warnings of the earth scientists and to consider the biologists who tell of the on-going development of new species of horrible diseases which are emerging because we have used too many anti-biotics too often. Yes, it's the unwillingness to take the Al Gores of this world as seriously as we need to. We have neither the interest nor the courage to face the next hundred years. But pity your grandchildren.A hundred years isn't all that long. I've already lived 82. Look ahead!!

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David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.