By Jamal Kanj
Writing from Oceanside California where budget constraints forced the city to cancel last week’s 4th of July fireworks for the third year in a row. This was just one example where many US cities had to cut on essential and non-essential programs during hard economic downturns.
The economy is already the lead issue in the upcoming US election between the presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney, and the unopposed Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama.
Despite the long and rigorous primary process, American voters’ choice is limited to two candidates who have already surrendered their worth to large campaign contributors.
On Election Day, a sizable number of American electors do not vote for the candidate they agree with, but against the contestant they do not like. Or else, many end up casting a protest vote, like this writer, for a third party candidate with no credible chance of winning.
According to recent polling and unless Obama commits serious blunder, he is assured another four years in the White House. A Bloomberg National Poll conducted June 15-18 showed Obama put 13% ahead of Romney.
In the same poll, one likely voter declared his support for Obama despite the fact that “He hasn’t fulfilled a lot of his campaign promises, but I would vote for him anyway because Romney would be extremely destructive for this country.”
To the chagrin of Republican Party’s pundits, Obama has taken great strides to put the economic wheel back on track after it was derailed for eight years under George W Bush’s presidency.
In a predictable cyclical trend, the American economy is on an ascending course, albeit slowly, following years of decline under a Republican administration.
After losing more than 500,000 jobs each month towards the end of the Bush and start of Obama’s administration, the economy is on the rebound gaining on average more than 100,000 jobs a month, combined with declining unemployment rate from more than 10 to just over 8 per cent now.
Every 10 years or so, the average life of an economic cycle, free market economies experience two extremes: boom and bust. At least since the Great Depression, the US and the world economies to that matter, experienced identical lows and highs trials.
During economic expansions, kowtowing to their ideological base, the political right targets surplus funds fueling growth by reducing taxes on the rich and large corporations. At the same time, the Federal Reserve moves to tighten money policies to tame inflationary tendencies.
In layman terms, the boom turns into bust when the surplus fund is replaced with deficit, turning national budget into the red.
The government then reduces public spending and services, businesses move into employment hibernation mood, circumspect consumers spend less and ultimately economic contraction.
In response, the government transfers the tax burden unto the middle class by raising funds under euphemistic nomenclatures called “fees,” curtail spending on social programs and education to bring the budget back into the black.
I can’t figure out if the much anticipated boom and bust cycle is purely an inherent weakness or plain ingenuity in the capitalist system. However, repeating the same alternations fits Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He can be reached via e-mail at[email protected].