Friday, October 23, 2009

Is Obama leading us astray?

I hope the title raised a couple of eyebrows. In his New York Times opinion column, Stanley Fish called Obama the "object of unceasing attention," hence the name of his article: The Obama Show. It's true that whether it's criticism or adoration, Obama is the focus in the media. Mr. Fish makes a good point in that although opponents try to tackle Obama, Obama is a man who "takes shot after shot, and not only is he still standing, he’s still smiling." Despite criticisms, President Obama is still looming large.

Therefore, when I saw "Is Obama leading us astray?" in a blur of a flyer as I walked past, I did a double-take and read it again. Students United for Business (SUB), a very new organization on Grounds, was hosting a lecture by economics professor, Lee Coppock. It was about the Obama administration's handling of the economy, complete with a catchy title "Give Nothing a Chance: How to Get the Economy Moving Again." Having had Coppock in a previous class and curious about how he would justify his opinion, I decided to attend the lecture.

I must say... what is excellent about UVA and any respectable University are these types of lectures that engage all listeners to participate and create dialogue. At UVA, I receive emails about lecturers from our own faculty and visiting renowned guests fairly often. Speakers are a crucial component of this system, because excellent speakers invoke questions and opinions in the audience, sparking further dialogue. A good speaker also has a clearly stated thesis, significant evidence to back up the claim, and comfortable public speaking skills.

Professor Coppock certainly is a winner in all three. He is an excellent public speaker, comfortably lecturing to over 1000 students in the spring semester. In the last night's lecture, Professor Coppock cracked in-law jokes, made analogies to athletes and the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, and made allusions to his "several dozens of children." He also was able to state his claim clearly. He believes that the economic situation was misdiagnosed, and therefore the "solution" of pumping money into the economy through tax rebates (Bush) or a stimulus package (Obama) has no effect, except for increasing our deficit into the highest peacetime deficit of all time (almost $2 TRILLION). Finally, his claim that this economic crisis is just a natural condition exacerbated by poor decisions by the Federal Reserve and the US government is backed with solid graphs, statistics, and examples.

His solution? Instead of increasing the number of dollar bills in the system, which could eventually lead to run away inflation, fixing the bank system to effectively utilize currently available money is a better solution. This elucidated his originally far-fetched solution of "doing nothing."

No stimulus package, true, but no back-breaking taxes either.

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