Cautiously optimistic

Rachel Maddow tonight told us that last October only 17 percent of us thought the country was on the right track. Now, after about 100 days of the Obama administration, 48 percent of us think the country is on the right track. In fact, Rachel says, for the first time in five years that number is higher than the number who don’t think we’re on the right track.

I think despite all the naysaying from the Right, Americans like what Obama is doing to solve some really tough problems. I suspect this is a tenuous optimism, and like the stock market could be subject to some ups and downs as each month brings new challenges. There’s still a tough road ahead of us in this economy, in the wars, and in the political battles that are brewing.



  1. #1 by mikeb302000 on April 24, 2009 - 2:30 am

    Wonderful stats Becky. Let the naysayers keep saying whatever they like. Those percentages speak for themselves.

  2. #2 by unlikely stats on April 24, 2009 - 7:55 am

    The house is burning, but I am optimistic that I will be sleeping in my own bed tonight, I’m 5, but Mommy and Daddy aren’t so sure.

    Maddow, who is he asking?

    OK, we are going to see both US automakers crack up, temporary plant closures, etc. etc and Ford is only hemmoraging “less” money. Looks like we plan to spend 2 trillion fixing potholes and the like. The market rises on bargain hunting, and Obama promises that once he is done energy bills for average Americans are going to “skyrocket” in his words. Awesome.

    Big news is that Pakistan is about to go Taleban, and Iraq is still a human Quisinart.

    The best news is Leno got sick, and we get to watch a rerun.

    Just goes to show that Americans like to keep the sunny side up

  3. #3 by Nomen Nescio on April 24, 2009 - 8:53 am

    we’re on the right track, yes, but it’s sort of hard to see how Obama could possibly be doing any worse than his predecessor was, so that’s really not too surprising.

    a better question is whether or not we’re moving fast enough down the right track to matter; whether the new administration is doing as much as they could, whether or not what they’re doing will be sufficient to achieve (fill in some desirable goal here). i’m still pessimistic about the economy; the recovery efforts seem to me to be spending enormous amounts of money we don’t have without yet enacting reforms we badly need.

    corporations “too big to fail” must be broken up until they aren’t, and that goes double for financial institutions. the corporate culture in a lot of these places needs a serious overhaul — it played a serious part in said places going over the edge — and nothing seems to be done to address that, raising the question of what will keep them from going over the same edge again. regulations on the entire financial sector need to be brought back to where they were before the GOP tore them down, etcetera, ad nauseam; none of which i see happening with anything like the urgency i think is called for.

    and, of course, as better voices than mine have pointed out (cough, cough, Ed Brayton, cough, Radley Balko, coughingfit) the Obama administration still seems to be clinging to “executive privilege” as an excuse to block judicial branch oversight of what they’re getting up to, in some respects even expanding on that practice from the shameful standards Bush set.

  4. #4 by Shane Smith on April 24, 2009 - 8:54 am

    unlikely stats…

    I know you are 5 and all, but maybe this will help…

    All those bad things you mentioned? The American people have seen them coming for the last five years, you know since about the time you were born. That is why “for the first time in five years that number is higher than the number who don’t think we’re on the right track.” See people could see what a clusterf@ck bush was making of things, and looked ahead, down the track as it were, and saw that bad things were in their future.

    Now all those bad things are here, but we are headed in another direction. And again, people look ahead, and though it is bad now, they believe it will get better.

    BTW, if all of this “Just goes to show that Americans like to keep the sunny side up” as you say, then why did more of them think we were on the wrong track for the last 5 years? If ‘optimistic America’ is your thesis, what does that say about how bad it really was when they were all thinking we were on the wrong track?

    Or, you can live in your bubble and think that the stats are made up and that everything is how you see it. Up to you.

  5. #5 by Shane Smith on April 24, 2009 - 8:55 am

    Nomen, well said….

  6. #6 by unlikely stats on April 24, 2009 - 9:15 am

    Well you and I Shane with our tender years will be paying for all this. As the bulk of America ages they are pretty optimistic as most of the consequence of this miserable direction won’t fall on them, being dead and all.

    This as well Shane is really not a “stat” of any merit. It is poll.

    We have already lived in a bubble Shane for many years, though you were likely a kid, breaking news for you. It popped.

    What we are seeing now here has a lot less to do with politics or economic theory, has much more to do with demographics, the population is aging, less productive, prone to debt, in a few words, not robust or vital.

    Add to this some outsourcing and the left and right’s maddening obsession on social engineering and we have what we see. I think I will stick to what the Europeans had to say about Obama’s attempt to lure them in this “direction”, I agree with them, to call it the road to hell, and leave it at that.

  7. #7 by Shane Smith on April 24, 2009 - 1:23 pm

    Did we have a bubble pop? Really?

    There a post a bit back pointing out that every two back to back right wing terms we have a bubble pop. There was also an interesting comment by an economist the other day about how we had a major crisis every so often right up until the new deal, at which point the regulations seemed to hold things in check a bit. Yet as soon as we had the Reagan/Bush stretch the deregulation started, and sure enough, look at the mess.

    Will I be paying for it? Yep. Guilty as charged. And gladly. There are two major political options: 1)accept that people are social and have to do a certain amount to take care of each other and regulate each other to all play nice together 2)pretend we can all be individuals in an unregulated unfair society and watch people suffer. I seem to be on an ancient greek run today, but here it is again. Two of those old dead greek guys name of Plato and Aristotle believed that since we couldn’t be fully human without society and since society gave those who are successful the background that allowed that success, then those people owed more to society. Maybe true, maybe not, but you can’t just wave away anything Aristotle says without some reasons, so it may be worth consideration.

    “This as well Shane is really not a “stat” of any merit. It is poll.”

    And economics has a lot to do with the confidence of the consumer, so a poll in economic matters is often self-fulfilling.

    “What we are seeing now here has a lot less to do with politics or economic theory, has much more to do with demographics, the population is aging, less productive, prone to debt, in a few words, not robust or vital.”

    Perhaps and perhaps not. I count several assumptions there that I am not sure I accept, but lets ignore that. If you are right, it is still a fact, and one we have to deal with. This administration is at least trying to deal with it, rightly or wrongly, and didn’t create it (as they are accused of by the right often enough) and hopefully will include regulation along with incentive as we go. Personally I don’t think they are being bold enough, but even baby steps in the right direction is better than leaps in the wrong direction, and that is what we got from bush…

  8. #8 by unlikely stats on April 24, 2009 - 2:40 pm

    Did the bubble pop? Do you own anything Shane? When valuations of homes in California have halved in many markets, it is pretty safe to say, yes. I can buy used cars for dirt cheap, as well.

    Were the valuations reasonable? Probably not, but this moot now, the disaster from it is real and here. Barney Frank chaired Fannie Mae, I am amazed this guy isn’t in an orange jumpsuit, but crimes go unpunished with victory. Even in domestic defeat it would seem for Bush/Cheney.

    Yes we will have to deal with the demographic realities, but in terms of the size of the aging demographic and the way it dwarfs all others the solution will not be political or economic, it will have to be somewhat spiritual. How do you raise kids when 1/3 of your population is old and going to ail? Where does the wealth(not money) come from to do this?

    What becomes of the fact not enough payees are dumping money in to sustain the systems? I suppose we do what we have been, “print” money. What happens when people quit taking it? (We are buying our own govt. bonds now with printed money) No one wants money that has no prospects and is continually worth less.

    If lifespan stays where it is in the US, and believe this, it is actually dropping, then between the boomers and people older will comprise well over 1/3 of our population. If you are in your 40’s the generation below the boomers is 32 million. 82 million boomers, and close to 50 million in their late 60’s 70’s and 80’s. The stack is wrong, and Europe suffers the same trouble, even worse. Social programs cannot survive if there are not enough people creating wealth and too many drawing upon them. Simple actuary work.

    If you don’t believe the demographics, I can’t make the point, the aging population is like a pregnant woman, it is going to happen, and for all I see the rest of the generations are so consumed with their own crisis, that they(our leaders) look and act all of the woman’s 14 year old boyfriend that got her pregnant.

    Be advised since we have no money and are printing it, your life could well be turned over to servicing this dilemma. What you have for dreams might want to fit into the medical/health maintenance/hospice paradigm evolving here, and becoming more acute every year.

    Plato and Aristotle lived in a time when lifespans were about 45, and these enormous demographic disparities did not exist, to be sure, Greeks had many wars to ensure enough died to ease the way. Then there was the death penalty for malcontents and menaces to society.

    Consumer confidence does not a healthy economy make, it could be argued that irrational consumer confidence is what has created our problems. Is anyone out there making more money, feeling like piling on more personal debt? Despite the polls whistling past the graveyard motif, we all hope it can be pulled off.

    In the end people should thank Bush for making the path that both parties have walked so obvious. Reps didn’t start Vietnam, but they supported it, two terms of Democrats led to the crisis in the early 70’s, by your logic Shane, anyone’s really, as that is what happened. Remember Nixon trying to stop the runaway inflation with price controls? Quaint now you think about it. Probably not, your parents may not have met by then, let alone had you.

    Where we disagree Shane is that I do not believe inflating our money is the way out of this mess, which is all Obama is doing. There is absolutely nothing innovative about this, it is what you do when you have nothing else. That is not just republicans fault, it has been ongoing for decades. It is very easy and comforting to have scapegoats to point to, but in the end that activity, is rather pointless.

    The time for this is done, the scrutiny should now lie in seeing if what is done next, not by Obama, but by those that approve the budget and spend the money…Congress. Investing so much in one man is dangerous history shows, we are better than one guy, he cannot save us.

  9. #9 by jdberger on April 24, 2009 - 3:26 pm

    There a post a bit back pointing out that every two back to back right wing terms we have a bubble pop.

    Interesting comment.

    How many ‘back to back’ left wing terms have we had in the last century (since 1900)?

    I’m assuming that by “right wing” you mean “Republican” and by “left wing” you mean “Democrat”.

    Just curious.

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