How Important a priority is _____ ?

Source: Gallup



Back on March 6, 2009, I made two broad calls: One was a market call, the other was a political/sociological prediction. The market call (“The mother of all bear market rallies is coming”) was as good as the political call (“get long torches and pitchforks”) was as bad. Apparently, I can pick a market bottom but not a political one.

I am reminded of this whenever I travel abroad. It seems the public in Europe are much more attuned to how they are being abused by corporate interests, the government and politicos. In contrast, Americans tolerate a surprising amount of nonsense from the big institutions that run their society. It is as if we had our revolution a few centuries ago, and now we are on auto-pilot. So long as we are well fed and entertained — Bread & Circuses (panem et circenses) — the incumbency of elected officials was safe. We shall save the discussion of whether this makes McDonalds and the NFL the two most important companies in America for another time.

As it turns out, the public was slow to figure out how badly they were getting screwed. That seems to be changing. A recent Gallup poll asked Americans to prioritize what they want out of whoever is elected to the White House in November:

“Creating good jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and reducing the federal budget deficit score highest when Americans rate 12 issues as priorities for the next president to address. Americans assign much less importance to increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and dealing with environmental concerns.”

Jobs being number one is not a surprise — the post-credit crisis economic recovery has been very soft. But corruption at #2 is a pleasant surprise.

Now, some of my European friends are going to say this is not only belated but obvious. Certainly, the bailouts were a terrible idea in conception and an even worse one in execution. But recent events have conclusively demonstrated how corrupted bankers themselves are — with Congress, the NY Fed, and the White House in bed with them for the past 3 decades. Its a gnarly hornets nest of corruption, illegality and abuse of law.

There are lots of thing we can do about this, but I have a modest suggesting that would be a good start: No More Wall Street Banker Treasury Secretaries.

There is an inordinate number of people who understand business and economy that we should not have to keep going back to Wall Street for Treasury Secretaries. It would be much better for the nation to find someone from industry who understands finance rather than finding someone from finance who understands industry.

Consider where we would be today if we put Citi and Bank of America into prepacked bankruptcy (as was done with GM).

Category: Employment, Legal, Politics, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

20 Responses to “What Do Americans Want? More Jobs, Less Corruption”

  1. super_trooper says:

    @BR Ideas are dime a dozen. Execution is key. How do you propose that this will be accomplished?
    My proposal is that the US performs a revolution and change the election system. As long as your choice is between Pepsi and Coke, the average citizen won’t have much to say in the process. Most non-anglo-saxon OECD members have at least 3 parties in their parlament. This introduces greater diversity in the system and perhaps something that is frequently lacking in the US, common sense.

  2. FromLori says:

    Wish in one hand, crap in the other

    CORZINE CRONYISM BOMBSHELL – High Ranking DOJ Lawyers And AG Eric Holder Were Partners In Firm That Represented MF Global

  3. Winston Munn says:

    All this poll really verifies is how well the Fox propaganda machine works.

  4. thetruthseeker says:

    Read Aldous Huxley’s book “Brave New World” to understand why your political call hasn’t come to fruition. Here is some more fuel to the fire.

  5. rimzolito says:

    “It seems the public in Europe are much more attuned to how they are being abused by corporate interests, the government and politicos.”

    Ohhh please…. European politics and governments are some of the most abusive and inefficient in the world.

  6. tjl_99 says:

    I am 34 yrs old and newly married. Not rich, but live in a very cheap area of upstate NY and have a household income of about $110k. After paying the bills we save about 20% of our gross income, so we have a little money to invest.

    I simply won’t invest it in stocks, an IRA, or other traditional investments available to people in my income range . First off, most of my investments have gone sideways since I entered the market at 21.

    Secondly, I simply have no faith in Wall Street or our government’s ability to police Wall Street. My wife and I even used a local bank for our mortgage, and paid a premium for that, because the bank cannot sell our mortgage.

    My friends are pretty much in the same boat. We might buy CDs or take steps to reduce our taxable income, but we are generally holding onto our cash and looking for alternative investments.

  7. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Damn shiny silver toaster giveaways!

  8. Chief Tomahawk says:

    By the way, I drive daily through several working and middle class neighborhoods and there has been a BIG increase in yard and garage sales on the weekends.

  9. willid3 says:

    i know that jobs are the most important thing we need. but i dont see how we will get there, when customers (consumers…99% employees) have falling incomes, have no interest in going into debt any more to make up for their falling incomes, fewer and fewer jobs because of falling demand (we are in a demand economy, not a command one) and job exports, preferential tax treatment for ‘job creators’ who dont create jobs (demand does that. try starting a business, that has no customers, just how long will it stay in business???). so just where will demand come from to create jobs? exports to countries that are in much much worse shape than we are? and why are we surprised when regulators are captured? we dont pay them much, and for a decade we told them to treat those they regulated as customers? sort of like having the police treat criminals as customers??? how would that work out? then we have a pretty polarized country. where politicians have to be constantly running for office. which costs a lot of money. so they are constantly having their hands out. and of course they say they this money doesn’t corrupt them. right, and i have a bridge to sell to you. and some land too. then of course the politicians cut the budgets of the ‘police’ (aka regulators) when they have any success in controlling the ‘customers’. about the only thing that they do now is to make it hard for others to get into that business.

  10. VennData says:

    Winston makes a good point: How can a regulation on AIG demanding quarterly reports to their regulator cause them to sell trillions in face of CDS?
    BR, your call on voter malcontentment wasn’t bad, just early …very early…
    People see that the stalwart GOP is the one who agreed to $1T rather than agree to cuts in top marginal rates. And last year and again now are not agreeing to cuts in middle class tax rates tounless top marginal rates are cut. Anyone who tries to talk around that should be laughed at.

  11. Disinfectant says:

    The current Treasury Secretary is not a Wall Street Banker, but I don’t think you like him much, either.

  12. James Cameron says:

    the public in Europe are much more attuned to how they are being abused by corporate interests, the government and politicos. In contrast, Americans tolerate a surprising amount of nonsense from the big institutions that run their society.

    I’m not so sure about this, or what the supporting evidence is . . . Berlusconi served as Prime Minister of Italy for years despite being plagued by one scandal after another, including soliciting minors for sex, economic conflicts of interest, and links to the Mafia. And supporters turned a blind eye to sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn for years and instead vilified the accusers until his behavior could no longer be ignored . . .

  13. DSS10 says:

    Sometimes, I wonder what that alternative universe would look like where instead of bailing out the banks they were dismantled, boards and senior management was purged, and haircuts were administered. Although we have a example in the Swedish banking crises of the ’90′s and the Icelandic restructuring of 08-12 it would be interesting to see what the (global) impact would have been and what the financial industry would look like now……. A future long form article perhaps?

  14. JMelville says:

    RE: Treasury Secretaries. I’m all in, but does the name Paul O’Neill ring a bell?

  15. jaymaster says:

    How quickly people forget.

    The turnover in DC (and in many states) in the 2010 elections was of a magnitude rarely seen.

    Of course, it was mostly a turn from the D to the R side, so I am sure many readers would like to forget it….


    BR: I recall Dems saying the same thing about 2008. If you get lost in partisanship, you lose sight of what matters.

  16. denim says:

    What American’s need is a pay raise. We know how to spend it to increase demand. Yes we do! Don’t need a tax cut because the government needs to be paid for what it does too.

    And remember what is now ancient wisdom: farm crops needed subsidies to keep the bottom from falling out of the market…well house prices need subsidies too for similar reasons. An American’s biggest investment is usually their house.

  17. Robert M says:

    The problem is ever since the Clinton’s were elected the Dummycrat party has become Republican light, as identified in the the 80′s; I want to come back as the bond market when I die, paraphrasing Robert Rubin. As a result there is no help there. it is really going to come down to a John Anderson winning moment to change policy.

  18. A says:

    America needs a credible 3rd party. A party that’s honest, is there to represent the people who elect them, and demonstrates competence in everything they do.

    My apologies: I’d better wake up now.

  19. Tarkus says:

    I think this is a common misperception – you are misreading what the media reports as the public’s opinion vs. what actually IS the public’s opinion.

    Back to the recent post about media concentration. Concentration means it is easier to massage the message through fewer pipes. Don’t take what they are willing to tell you is the general consensus with what the real consensus is.

  20. Fred Pote says:

    Nothing provides clarity like hindsight. Let’s take the first 2 items.

    Creating Jobs: We have a $25/hr labor rate and can’t compete with others at $7/hr. Solution- reverse the “sucking sound”. Remember Perot’s warning? Establish an import tariff tax on that work that left us for those cheaper rates. Afraid of a “Tariff War”? No, we will be the winners by regaining the industry we lost these last 3 decades. Our advantage is we are the world’s biggest consumer. Let’s make it our home made goods we consume. Sure it will cost more, but our standard of living must be adjusted anyway.

    Reducing Corruption: Simply apply term restrictions. Our Representatives should be elected for one term. No reelections, no reelection campaign funds sought by incumbent office holders. No “professional politicians”. The two party system breeds corruption. They sell/provide Government power for the use of “constituents” who are willing to pay(campaign contributions). Note: U. S. corporations are not citizens and have no voting privileges. But, the Supreme Court sees them as “constituentcies” and have made graft/bribery legitimate between Congress/President and the “constituents”.