Wednesday, March 26, 2008

American Economic News, Politics & The Ship of State: A Picture of the Day in Review

Since Steve and Tyler are taking a moment to vent, there is something I need to get off my hairy chest by way of a day in review. Let's dive right in....

While Carl Ichan continues to make financial and business deals in a way that will position his companies for a bright financial future. The same cannot be said for Henry Paulson or the U.S. housing market.

And while weaker economic growth led stocks lower for a second day after what I call the "fools rally" American equities and ownership of resource shares globally is on the same track as Her Majesty's Northern Rock Bank. With both Social Security and American medical programs like Medicaid and medicare driving up the demand for services. You may ask, well, how does having programs like Medicaid and Medicare drive up demand?

Well they do, they in essence are government mandated programs that control and periodically increase costs for services to make the managers of HMO's and group managed health care rich while leaving the non-managerial nurses, porters and even doctors left to handle the burden of the uninsured. But if we look closely, voluntary insurance programs in the end cost much less then mandatory insurance and health care programs for the critically ill are less then 5% of overall military spending in the United States.

In that sense we are not like France or Norway.

American politics on the other hand remains mired in the classic post-modern triad of 1. race, 2. gender and 3. sexuality. With tensions flaring over even tiny insults or slight innuendos that could cause the loss of face everyone from the bastions of right-wing-know-it-all-ism to those among the left's new-found feelings of moral vindication after seven long years of the current administration, have been on the offensive.

I know, I know you'll say, America's list of addictions are long, her vices numerous, but none more so than the continuing inability to live with people as they are without judging them. I can almost hear you ask "Brian you always talk about tolerance, people must think you are nuts!?"

Well, I am sure some do. But the fundamental lesson to learn is that to operate in free markets you need trust; and to develop trust you need some level of social toleration and understanding between people. Hmmm. Sounds really crazy to me.

Ichan says it and gets paid a billion bucks, I say it and people say I'm full of it. That's life.

This lack of tolerance on our part is not any worse than anyone else in the world however, and often it is much better. I would rather be here than discriminated against somewhere else...where I actually am a minority. But at least I know for a fact it is not any worse than Rush Limbaugh. It may be comforting to some to know at least we are not better or worse than anyone else....we all have our moments, don't we? As individuals we are bound to do so; as groups we condemn each other to do so.

But there is an impetus among some in the media to try to control people and to turn them into what "they should be." From Gillian McKeith the food Nazi on the BBC, to the hosts of "What not to Wear" to "Big Brother IV."

Thus in the mainstream media scenario Barack Obama should be more "white," like Tiger Woods. And conversely John McCain is a racist homophobe along with the "she-Clinton" who is not female enough for Laura Ingarham and I listened to a talking color blob on MSNBC say that "everyone likes to complain about something." Everyone. No exceptions. Great sense of finality in that, jackass.

It is would require a long trip down the rabbit hole that is the American psyche to explain the whole thing, but in essence it is a variant of mass cognitive distortion. In the end the media storyline is like a pharmacopoeia of hallucinogens that turn individuals into groups, groups into classes, and always search out an elect worthy of reward and a majority who can rest easy knowing they are the bottom of a very large pyramid.

When the founders told us that people should be judged as an individual on the content of their character, the Puritans among us said, "nah we hate those.....(fill in the blank with a group or class or race or sexual orientation)....who have....(fill in the blank with a real or perceived grievance)."

Incapable of seeing, enjoying and genuinely liking individuals exactly as they are, and God forbid tolerating others and their aspirations, we turn into intellectual cannibals hungrier than the "real ones" that Robinson Crusoe found on the Island. Great commentary on human nature if that is what it is....

So I was so frustrated after listening to this miasma the only way I could represent an overall picture of the day, is through pictures. At least pictures are something everyone can understand and probably will not judge me too harshly for.
I honestly think this picture of the Titanic sums up the political and economic news of the day.

If you listen closely I bet you can almost hear Celine Dion singing "My Heart Will Go On..."

Anyway, that is about how I see so much political drama while serious structural and financial problems continue unabated and unaddressed. I guess we can console ourselves with the fact that we are no better or worse than human beings have ever been.


Waldo said...

Hairy chests are required to be a good Libertarian? I'd have signed up sooner.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure Waldo, I know I have a hairy chest and hope no one judges me too harshly for that. But this discussion about Pat Buchanan "not being a homophobe racist" is about as germane as my hairy chest. Of course he is. He would like all look like the Cleavers in a 1950's sitcom, but I think that ain't gonna happen anytime soon. It is the stunning diversity of each individual that any libertarian should value as long as it does not inflict criminal harm on others, it seems perfectly normal to me. Like one of those fiesty Romans said, "I am human therefore nothing humans do is alien to me." We can choose to tolerate it, but we do not need to be apologists for things we disagree with. And I agree with Pat on a number of issues about as much as I agree with the people who casted Madonna for the role of Evita. Brian

Steve Newton said...

I have no hair on my chest, which remains as problematic at 51 as it was at 21, except that there is no longer any hope.