Monday, September 22, 2008

The Attack on Capitalism is Renewed

Capitalism is a force of nature, or at least that is what we are led to believe.  The economy - from the point of view of the individual - seems to be an almost mythological thing, controlled by fate, destiny or some such superhuman element.  It is only natural that when economic skies darken and the lightning begins to strike locations local and familiar to us - banks, mortgage lenders and huge corporations like GM - a primitive impulse grabs hold. 

In ancient times, gods on mountaintops protected us when we placed the right riches and foodstuffs at the feet of their idols.  We have always sought refuge from destruction by offering tribute to higher authorities but the immortals were slain long ago in favor of mortal voices of leadership.  Modern government does not have a taste for ambrosia or roast lamb; its only appetite is for power, and when we feel afraid that is what we offer.

Democrats and Republicans alike rush to the temple to console the average American who hears the din of chaos in the financial markets and wants someone to silence the clamor.  But the intense action in Congress reminds me of my 5 year-old son playing his miniature piano.  His hands fly across the keys, the musician's sneer overtakes his face, but for all of the movement and theatrics there is nothing that you could call music.

The hands of Congress are molesting an instrument they have no understanding of but they bang away like virtuosos.  If it only made bad music we could just sit back and call it vaudeville. 

The cacophony emanating from the Capitol will result in a radical shift in the American economy, an engine that drives the world's markets, but more importantly they will usher in a shift in American values.

This is not to say that the government does not have a role in weathering the crisis.  Because of grossly unethical and irresponsible behavior by financial gatekeepers and fudiciaries, government intervention is required in order to prevent collapse. But the federal government must walk the line of underwriting the nation's economy while not nullifying the basic economic laws that balance every economic organism, from the largest of companies to the individual worker. 

The economic body of the nation maintains its health by finding its way through transition just like the human body attacks sickness.  To attempt to avert either process is to extend suffering.    

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