Just Another Day

"Any idiot can handle a crisis, it's day to day living that wears you out." - Chekhov

Friday, March 18, 2005

A Great Man Has Died

Considered impolitic because he didn't have the Kennebunkport-style elitism bred into him and he actually spoke the truth, Kennan was a master of the muddy middle and a champion of nuance, nonetheless. He wasn't a politician trying to take both sides of an issue, thus his nuance was fact-based, he was a true intellectual who understood that extremism based on black-and-whitisms was more dangerous than actually thinking. While the Stalinist socialists and right-wing republicans want to stop thought process so people will just get on with following whatever doctrine is laid out for them, Kennan showed that true genius lies in the ability to find the truth somewhere in the center of all the browbeating dished out by mental midgets on the right and left. Therefore, he opposed the Vietnam War because it was not sensibly in our sphere of concern while also condemning the violence and inchoateness of the war protestors. He understood the strength of our system was in its flexibility not blind adherence to flag waving. In other words, he was one of those to understand that love of country is poorly expressed by the America-firsters and jingoists. He was one of the sensible men in our nations history whose name all Americans should know but, by his refusal to pay heed to any ideological masters, probably never will.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Potentially Incoherent Rant Since I Don't Have Time to Read It Over, Or Risk Is Dying

So, the GOP wants to kill opportunity and take any steam out of the economy as driven by the little guy. Why can I say that? Look at the bankruptcy bill working its way to Bush's desk. The right wing loves to scream about how much better the US economy is for continuous growth and opportunity compared to other advanced economies. I happen to agree with that sentiment. I don't think it's a very fair system since so much is taken by so few but that is often the way the entrepreneurs themselves want it, i.e., they build on an idea that catches on and they sell out to the big guys and walk away with the money to early retirement or some line of work not as stressful as that of the entrepreneur. The unfortunate part of this is that those who already have a great advantage due to their capital accumulation, warranted (Buffet, Soros, Gates, to name a few) or not (Bush, Cheney, trust fund babies ex-Bushies, to name a few), get to grab the goodies and make off with even more profit.

Sidenote: warranted means they actually worked, using their brains and their time and taking risks, to get there; unwarranted means they were born into the right family (any of the Bush clan) or fell into the right circles (Cheney) and have had to work very little in their life with friends, family and the government teat constantly at their side to keep them standing. Of course, it is important to note what people actually do with their time and money before judging them, e.g., if someone uses their position to simply make themselves and their loved ones richer than they already are, that's a bad thing; if they actually use their money and their positions to further the cause of all people, that's a good thing; again, just to name a few examples.

Okay, back to the idea at play here. What has made America the powerhouse it is is that it is a culture that promoted risk taking while trying to ensure that damage to others was minimized, i.e., benevolent risk (or non-Enron types who had interesting ideas but screwed too many people in the process and had to come down). If an entrepreneur has a good idea and fails to get it out of his or her garage and goes bankrupt in the process. No problem, wipe out their debts and let their entrepreneurial brains get back to the work of creating something and some day they'll probably make it. There are millions of such examples in the US and this has been the driver of the economic wealth and spirit that put the US ahead of all others. Concentration of wealth is a weakness, a disease in a free market. It leads people to stop taking risks because they don't see the hope of a payoff in those risks later or they see that they will ultimately lose control of their own creation. Again, this doesn't necessarily stand for those who only want monetary profit for their ideas although it does work against them too if their ideas are bought out too soon and they are left to complete their creations in someone else's "garage."

The economic policies of the Bush administration to date have done everything possible to favor wealth concentration by giving a break at every turn to those already in possession of the greatest capital. Further, the Bush administration, through reckless spending while reducing government revenues, has managed to crowd out investment which favors those with excessive capital as only they can really take part when competitive pressures push up investment prices beyond what is normally warranted. Along comes the bankruptcy bill to further decrease the potential of risk in the economy on top of the already dangerous wealth concentration.

So, what does an eternal optimist in his personal life but eternal pessimist when it comes to conservative economics do? He blogs about it and maintains his benign existence away from what he sees as very serious potential turmoil back home. Pessimistic prediction: Bush will kill the economy by destroying that which has made the US economy so strong, risk taking with a safety net. The result? The conservatives will cry, spit, raise the most unholy of hissy fits when a leader from the non-far right wing of American politics comes in, reinforces the safety net, raises taxes on unearned wealth, re-introduces a truly progressive income tax system and saves America. Or, the decline will be gradual, Americans will continue to sign their own death warrant by electing the conservatives not seeing what's around the corner, America will default on its treasury obligations, the New Deal will be dead, and the conservatives will laugh all the way back to their mud huts with the crosses carved into the walls thinking life is indeed good.

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