Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama’s now a “free-market guy”

The Guardian’s Naomi Klein doesn’t like the changes we’ve been getting from “the change candidate” most MSM wants us “to believe in.”

Her column today begins - - -

Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC: "Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market."

Demonstrating that this is no mere spring fling, he has appointed the 37-year-old Jason Furman, one of Wal-Mart's most prominent defenders, to head his economic team.

On the campaign trail, Obama blasted Clinton for sitting on the Wal-Mart board and pledged: "I won't shop there."

For Furman, however, Wal-Mart's critics are the real threat: the "efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits" are creating "collateral damage" that is "way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy ... for me to sit by idly and sing Kum Ba Ya in the interests of progressive harmony".

Obama's love of markets and his desire for "change" are not inherently incompatible. "The market has gotten out of balance," he says, and it most certainly has. Many trace this profound imbalance to the ideas of Milton Friedman, who launched a counter-revolution against the New Deal from his perch at the University of Chicago.

And here there are more problems, because Obama - who taught law at Chicago for a decade - is embedded in the mindset known as the Chicago School.

Obama chose as his chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist on the left side of a spectrum that stops at the centre-right. Goolsbee, unlike his Friedmanite colleagues, sees inequality as a problem. His primary solution, however, is more education - a line you can also get from Alan Greenspan. Goolsbee has been eager to link Obama to the Chicago School.

"The guy's got a healthy respect for markets," he told Chicago magazine. "It's in the ethos of the [University of Chicago], which is something different from saying he is laissez faire."

Another of Obama's Chicago fans is the 39-year-old billionaire Kenneth Griffin, the CEO of the hedge fund Citadel.

Griffin, who gave the maximum allowable donation to Obama, is a poster boy for an unbalanced economy. He got married at Versailles, and is one of the staunchest opponents of closing the hedge-fund tax loophole.

While Obama talks about toughening trade rules with China, Griffin has been bending the few barriers that do exist. Despite sanctions prohibiting the sale of police equipment, Citadel has been pouring money into controversial China-based security companies that are putting the local population under unprecedented levels of surveillance. ...

The rest of Klein's column is here.


Can anyone explain why by today, June 14, 2008 Klein or any other pundit is surprised Obama says one thing and then does something that contradicts what he said?

Why is Klein or anyone else surprised by now that Obama would attack a political opponent for Wal-Mart connections, and then cozy with a "big ticket" Wal-Mart supporter and puts that person in a Team Obama leadership position?


Anonymous said...

John -

I got my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1974, with Milton Friedman and Robert Fogel (as well as Don McClosky, now, Deidre McClosky) as my dissertation advisers. So, I know what the Chicago School is about. If Obama is Chicago School, I must be Martian.

Of course, no one should be surprised at Obama's flip-flops. He does it all the time. (BTW, someone should send him a pair of flip-flops as signature shoes.) Also, be careful of someone who says that markets have become unbalanced. Markets don't become unbalanced except when they produces results someone doesn't like.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

Just remember, flip floppers always flip after they flop and flop after they flip.

Obama is flipping now, he will surely flop.