Monday, September 29, 2008


Oh, honesty
Ooh, it's such a waste of energy
No, you don't have to lie to me
Just give me some tenderness
Beneath your honesty
--Paul Simon, "Tenderness"

Lovely singer at that link, though I think the arrangement is not quite canonical.

I didn't expect my post-apocalyptic stuff to be prophetic, but as we sit here on what some say is the brink of ruin THE LIKES OF WHICH HAVE NEVER BEEN SEEN, a little honesty might be in order.

The short form is this: Two things got us into this current financial predicament. Stupidity and evil. You can say "greed", but greed is one or the other and usually both.

There was nothing unpredictable about it. I called it years ago, when my little hovel here doubled, then tripled, then quadrupled in value. (I "underbought" at the time. I was making in a year what my house went for! Underbuying has served me well.) Salaries stayed flat over most of that time period, so it seemed impossible to me that this state of affairs could continue.

As long as we concentrate all our power into the hands of a few people, we are subject to their failings.

Honesty in the current crisis--and by the way, this goes for 9/11, the '29 crash, and the New Deal--would be this, "We don't know what we're doing. We screwed this up without meaning to. At least most of us didn't mean to. If we're lucky, we're smart enough to fix this. But in any event, we shouldn't be trusted with this incredible amount of power in the future."

You'll see that there are many whose response to this highly regulated market failing is, "No! The problem is that not enough power is concnetrated in the hands of the people who screwed things up in the first place!" They won't phrase it like that, of course. They'll blame The Other Guys(TM) and insist that their own team was on the right side all along.

"As long as we get rid of The Other Guys--O! if only we'd gotten rid of The Other Guys sooner!--it's not only okay for Our Guys to run everything, it's the best way to go."

Personally, I don't know what the answer is for the immediate problem, nor even if there is an immediate problem that should be addressed. But I do know, with complete confidence, that going forward it would be best if we resisted the urge to allow any Guys ("Ours" or "Theirs") to have that much power.

I don't expect to be heard on this, mind you. But as our friend Paul Simon once wrote, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and blogway halls."

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