Monday, March 23, 2009

A Cry in the Wilderness

Thanks, as ever, to the always vigilant Phyllis for alerting me to these two indispensable articles:

First, the always interesting Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone:

"People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'├ętat. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations."


And then James K. Galbraith on the economy:

"If we are in a true collapse of finance, our models will not serve. It is then appropriate to reach back, past the postwar years, to the experience of the Great Depression. And this can only be done by qualitative and historical analysis. Our modern numerical models just don’t capture the key feature of that crisis—which is, precisely, the collapse of the financial system."


Matt, younger, angrier, more testosterone-filled, does a great job of exposing both the characters and their actions in this debacle, but Galbraith goes further. He programatically describes what is really necessary to rescue the wreckage of the economy from the hands of the men who wrecked it.

Criticism is easy; solutions are hard. Nobody ever said it would be a piece of cake, and Obama wanted the job. Now it is time to step up to the plate, clear the henhouse of foxes, and fight for the kinds of sweeping and visionary measures necessary to stem the bleeding while it is still possible. Once the men whose hands are on the levers have finished rewarding the men responsible for the crisis, stuffing their pockets with unimaginable amounts of money, they will move on to gutting the so-called "entitlements" in order to pay for it, which can and will throw millions more people into desperate poverty. The death toll of these actions will be high, in terms of people, institutions, education, (virtually non-existent) health care, physical infrastructure and the constitutional character of the Republic itself.

Galbraith is right on the money, it seems to me, but so far he is a lonely voice in the wilderness. We need more people to take heed of his analysis and program, while there is still time.

I will get off my high horse now.

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