Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Pox On All Their Houses

Lehman Bros, AIG, & The Campaign

I heard quotes on the news from all four POTUS/VP candidates about the financial crisis today. The choices are: Are they lying, are they stupid, or do they think we're stupid?

Obama is blaming this on the Bush administration and warning that we'll have four more years of this if we elect McCain. Yeah? Go ask Chris Dodd and Charlie Rangel about this, Barack - damn your eyes.

And I like McCain and plan to vote for him, but when he started in with this "I warned this administration and the Congress two years ago..." I just shut the radio off. You were in this yourself, John. Not a ringleader, but you held their coats. You got more $ from Lehman than any other Republican.

And Joe Biden, the Democratic Senator from the MBNA credit card people, assures us that if we just let him regulate...

I had a sneaking hope that we'd get one of those movie moments from Palin, where she'd announce she was for real deregulation, not this re-regulation under another name with different rules, and she was even going to keep on McCain's case about it, but that was pure fantasy on my part. She gave a slightly more free-market version of McCain.

They all know that it's complicated, but they pick one avenue of blame, which however deserved, is deceptive. Was it greed? (Well, duh.) Was it forcing banks to get more minorities in the door by lowering their lending standards? (How'd that work out for those poor bastards now?) Was it Congress looking the other way? (Never.) Was it the Bush Administration not vetoing the last bailout? (Don't get me started.)

They are all smart enough to know that this is all complicated, with plenty of blame to go around, but they talk like it's a simple solution if we would just kick those other thieves out and let them enact the True Solution. Yeah, people may think that Palin isn't that smart and she may really believe some oversimple idea and I say "If only that would be true. Dude, don't tease me like that." Because the people who have an oversimplified idea of how to fix stuff usually succeed in at least fixing the one part of it they understand, while all the geniuses try to fix everything by horse-trading and posing for the cameras and making everything worse.

Well, they have to campaign that way. If any of them got up and actually tried to articulate the many things that went into this they would A) lose the votes of the people who deserve some blame but are trying to hide, and B) confuse the audience, who would be uncertain when to cheer. So they say what they know isn't true...

Because they think we're stupid.

And they're pretty much right. Black and white, man and woman, rednecks and pointy-headed intellectuals, we all want it to be one person or group's fault and get mad at 'em. The intellectuals like to say that it's all more complicated, so they can keep talking, but when you boil them down, they've got one big idea, based on the writings of some long-dead economist or philosopher, that they're really selling.

Up here in NH we learn young that it takes forty gallons of sap to boil down to one gallon of maple syrup. Which is about the same ratio as politicians' speech to content.

PJ O'Rourke, unsurprisingly, has the right quote: The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.

I think I need to read more PJ these next seven weeks to keep my head on straight.


Anonymous said...

I was listening to Dave Ramsey who said that over 1000 savings and loans closed down in the 80's due to the retroactive changes in tax law that led to the S&L crisis. We survived that, so we'll survive this.

"This American Life" on NPR did a really good show explaining the mortgage crisis. They recently did one explaining the "banking crisis" we have now. Was working in the lab while listening so I didn't catch all of it, but the jist was that changes in the way the feds were regulating things led to this crisis.

Anonymous said...

Do you remember the Carter/Ford debates where both spent, um, it felt like hours, throwing minute details and huge numbers at each other until we all fell asleep and toppled out of our chairs?