The fact that President Obama selected as his new chief of staff a person with banking interests goes against the perception that he has strong socialist leanings.  William Daley used to be commerce secretary, which also suggests that Obama is a good ole capitalist after all.

Part and parcel of his choice anticipates not only the creation of new jobs to undergird and grow our economy, but also to increase our competitive advantage in the world market.  What this divulges is his support for the hackneyed system of rivalry, rather than anything really new: like the forging of international enterprise collaboration or the effort to stabilize floundering economies in the Second and Third Worlds.

Obama has consistently backpedaled from his “redistribution of wealth” comment to Joe the Plumber on the 2008 presidential campaign trail.  One cannot help but get the feeling that he never actually held the view à la Martin Luther King, Jr. that what we need in America is a revolution of values and a radical redistribution of wealth in this country.  Instead Obama has, by his selection, kowtowed once again to corporate interests, which inevitably lead to a widening gap between the rich and the poor.  This increasing chasm also will result in the strangulation of the middle class, an effect that contradicts his purported goal of buttressing and bolstering that shrinking social class.

The banking industry was the culprit that took the American economy over the cliff in the first place.  So why is Obama inviting one of its leaders and a Chicago associate to play John to his Jesus, so to speak?  What is needed in this country is a concerted effort to bring about full employment, not further steeping ourselves amid the mire of laissez-faire capitalism.  At this juncture, the mere appearance of camaraderie with the banking establishment is ill-advised.  Hence, Obama’s boldness in this regard reflects a disturbing comfort with business as usual.  The palsy-walsy nature of his selection processes resembles the customary good ole boys’ network.

The economic situation in this country is still dire, and very little is being said about the devastating effects it is having upon the middle and lower classes.  People’s lifestyles are drastically changing: those living from paycheck to paycheck are forced to live desperately, while solutions to the crisis are not being attended to in recognition of that fact.  How can we expect folks who are under the iron feet of foreclosure, family dislocation, and homelessness to remain upstanding citizens with a zeal for or trust in our allegedly empathetic democratic republic, while a minority of people have their jobs saved, get hefty bonuses, and make more money in a year than most make in a lifetime?  It is grossly unfair, hypocritical, immoral, and unethical!

Bailing out, subsidizing, and stimulating big business has certainly not trickled down to reinvigorate the economy, put people back to work, and help people to earn a sustainable and livable income.  Attending to the least of these should be the president’s and government’s number one priority.  But what kind of lobbying power do the poor or the indigent have compared with the ubiquity of lobbyists paid by big business?  Paying lip service to job creation without putting forth a feasible and effective process to accomplish it is what many low-income people have been experiencing from time immemorial.  Obama’s promise of a new day in Washington, D.C., Is now falling even more so upon deaf ears.

Obama needs to hear the words of that great socialist and pacifist of yesteryear, Eugene V. Debs, echoing down through the twentieth into the twenty-first century: “While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is one man in prison, I am not free.”  If the members of the current administration who are responsible for fostering the long-awaited economic recovery can similarly place their feet in the shoes of the disadvantaged and otherwise oppressed, then, perhaps, we could begin to usher in the beloved community at last!

About mdbwell

Pres., Project for the Beloved Community, Inc.; B.A.--Wesleyan University; M.Div.--Yale University; Ph.D.--Boston University; Summer Study--Harvard University; Social ethicist; Ordained minister; Advocate for the poor
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