Don't Make Me Think
Photo by stevegarfield
A number of people have chimed in by now about Obama’s State of the Union address. Yesterday I noted that Obama was colonized by corporate language…rather than him using the language of investments for his own ends, I thought he’d instead be held hostage by it….forced to take on a whole host of other ideas connected to the language.

To give but one example, note how in his discussion of citizenship he never actually talked about citizenship as if it were a political category. The reason we should move on the undocumented worker crisis is because at worst we’re training people HERE and then sending them home to compete against us….and at best we’re letting all sorts of entrepreneurial talent lie fallow. In both cases the primary reason we want to solve the issue is because we need to plug these people into the economy. He made the same argument about education–the primary reason we want to spend money on education was because we want to train people for the economy. The market is important, don’t get me wrong, but it is not and should not be that important. The language of the market colonizes all these other fields, making it very difficult to talk about things like democratic practices.

And making it easier to talk about freezing government spending. For the last couple of years politicians and policy analysts have argued for “austerity”, suggesting that in this time of fiscal crisis, governments need to restore sanity by cutting spending. Although Obama didn’t totally reproduce the austerity argument, noting that doing so would be like taking an engine out of a flying plane, he came close enough. Sounds like common sense right? Families spend within their means, governments should too, right?

Wrong.

Mark Blyth is a colleague of mine. He makes the anti-austerity argument far better than I could.