There Must Be More Money
In high school we read a lot of short stories, one of which was The Rocking Horse Winner by DH Lawrence, available to be read online. I have always remembered the line I used for the title of this piece. I read the story aloud to my wife, who reacted simply, “The more you have, the more you want.”
DH Lawrence is most remembered for his novels Sons and Lovers, the erotic Women in Love, and the explicitly erotic Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but in his time he was controversial for his criticisms of modern, industrial society and the newly-empowered middle class. Though born of the working class, he considered his better-educated mother, and therefore himself, somewhat higher in station than his coal miner father, but still felt himself an outsider.
Writing for Newsweek, Niall Ferguson engendered a storm of controversy with the cover story article, Hit The Road, Barack – Why We Need a New President.
Yet the question confronting the country nearly four years later is not who was the better candidate four years ago. It is whether the winner has delivered on his promises. And the sad truth is that he has not.
In his inaugural address, Obama promised “not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” He promised to “build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.” He promised to “restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.” And he promised to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” Unfortunately the president’s scorecard on every single one of those bold pledges is pitiful.
One big problem with Ferguson’s argument is, of course, that the Republicans in Congress have actively blocked Obama’s attempts to create jobs and invest in infrastructure and improve education at every turn. They have even bragged about doing so. Another big problem with Ferguson’s argument is that Romney has presented no better plan than giving more money to the wealthy in a tired retread of trickle-down economics.
Ferguson brushed aside numerous criticisms from across the internets, claiming that liberal critics, “wholly fail to respond to the central arguments of the piece.” Of course even non-movement conservatives like Andrew Sullivan, who considers Obama some sort of Tory, have attacked Ferguson’s piece.
Ferguson’s stated argument is that Obama has not fulfilled his campaign promises; his unstated argument is that there must be more money. Virtually everyone in America wants more money, whether through higher incomes or lower costs or lower taxes or free services. Every politician in America promises more money to an assortment of constituencies. Every politician delivers money to the most powerful of their constituents, or risks not being reelected.
Obama has delivered money, but not to the special interests that would please Ferguson. Ferguson claims that Romney-Ryan will recreate the growth surplus from Imperial America’s wealth pump and deliver more for everyone that deserves it. But that surplus has taken a serious hit with the increasing costs of energy and food around the world. What seems more likely is that a Romney-Ryan administration will continue to subject the middle classes to austerity measures to create an illusion of that imperial growth surplus for the wealthy and influential.