Saturday, March 15, 2008
The Ideology of Piracy
Leaving aside the fantastical economic predictions issuing from the Land of Cockaigne (a.k.a the Oval Office) these days and turning instead to the real world, we find that this country is most likely entering the initial phases of a second Great Depression.
While he doesn't actually use the "D" word, Martin Feldstein, who is in a position to know about such things, anticipates a major and protracted downturn, which he describes as a "situation" which "is getting worse, and the risks are that it could get very bad."
Feldstein is a former president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private sector group which many economists and investors consider the ultimate authority on U.S. business cycles, and he made these remarks in a speech to the Futures Industry Association in Boca Raton, Florida.
"There isn't much traction in monetary policy these days, I'm afraid, because of a lack of liquidity in the credit markets," Feldstein added, which is another way of saying the banks are broke. They are the final victims of their own foolish lending policies from 2001 to 2006, and have succumbed to the bad juju of the paper hocus-pocus they invented.
At times like this, it's good to frequently review fundamentals, and here are just a couple of them I find pertinent.
1. Mark Twain said, "Show me where a man gets his cornbread and I'll show you where he gets his politics," and politics is generally powered by economics. I like to employ a Buddhist analogy: politics is the cart which follows the ox (economics) which pulls it. Every Limbaugh dittohead and Iraq War cheerleader is, at bottom, a born-again laissez-faire fanatic who believes that unrestrained, unregulated free enterprise will provide the magic solution to all our problems.
2. Unrestrained, unregulated free enterprise is the cause of all our problems, and the solution to none of them. It has now given us, besides a second Great Depression, an Endless War with which to supply our defense contractors and war profiteers the ill-gotten gains their lobbyists have secured for them by bribing and otherwise influencing the elected officials owned by our corporate power structure.
Our response to the first Great Depression was to elect a reformer, Franklin D. Roosevelt, rather than a revolutionary. The capitalist buccaneers who hated Roosevelt, and have worked tirelessly, and ultimately successfully, to undo everything he did in the thirties, and all that the New Dealers who followed him accomplished in subsequent decades, never realized that everything he and they did was done as much to save them as to help us.
But -- and this is the all-important principle number three -- the born-again free enterprisers are delusional and crazy, and in the end, if we don't get them permanently under control, they'll destroy everything including themselves.