Wednesday, June 30, 2010


There's so much going on in the world right now that it's difficult for me to land on a single topic. This could be a result of undiagnosed ADD or just that I'm busy and never seem to have the time to research and write a long post. Whatever. Here are some points to ponder. Some may get the full treatment later. Or not.

Does it bother anyone else that today's conservatives and the tea party bunch seem to hold the following ideas simultaneously:
1.The United States of America is the greatest nation now or ever on the face of the Earth and we are, in a word, Exceptional!
2. We are a government of the people and by the people. The people are the government and that government must remain subservient to the will of the people. And,
3. The U.S. government can't do anything right!

So, lets review: we're incredibly exceptional, but we can't do anything right!?

Along that same road: did you ever notice that the "government is the problem" crowd never fixes it when they are in power? They just seem to screw things up even more, get defeated at the polls, then grouse about the other side's attempts to expand government in order to fix, or at least address, the problems that they created until they throw those bums out and start over. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I, for one, am sick and tired of news talkers who act as if what they are reading is a complete surprise to them, and by extension, to their audience, even when it's something very common. For example, I remember a news story about a study that showed that a substantial number of adults, not just college kids, binge drink. The news reader was shocked, shocked I say, to discover this incredible nugget of new knowledge. Ya, like he or she never went to a wedding. Or a family reunion. Or never had an Uncle Harry or neighbor Don who drank a six-pack of beer every night, except weekends when he'd drink a case. The news readers have never seen this behavior before? If these folks are that far removed from real life, why do we listen to them at all? And don't even get me started on the breathless "Team Coverage" we get every time there's a thunderstorm. "Rain pounds the at 11!" Spare me, please.

The real harm of the $700 billion Bush/Paulson financial bailout is that we the taxpayers replaced the banks "vapor wealth", that is, the gigantic sums that were bet on complex and convoluted derivative products by those high finance guys, with our "real" money. 
Let me explain. All of the trading back and forth of derivatives and credit default swaps really just amounted to ledger entries. Stuff was put on the books at such and such a value. And the values kept getting higher. It's just like in the savings and loan crises of the 1980s. Then, real estate moguls were buying up commercial property, financed by friendly S & L loan officers, and then selling it to other moguls for more money, also financed by S & L loans. The value of the property didn't actually increase, it just looked that way on the books. Swap that property back and forth a few times and you've got property worth a whole lot of money. At least on the books. At some point a "real" appraisal will show that the prices have been inflated and that's what happened when that bubble burst.
Jump to 2008 and you see the same thing only this time with derivatives. But this time, thanks to George W. Bush and Hank (the sky is falling) Paulson we, the taxpayers, bought this junk with real money and at the inflated value. So the taxpayers paid actual money for what was really only bookkeeping entries. Vapor wealth!

If you listen (in small doses for safeties sake) to the tea party folks you'll begin to notice a theme. It's the same theme that runs through the GOP of today. They're always right! They convey opinions and spout positions, but underlying it is the absolute certainty that they, and their opinions, are now, and have always been, the correct ones. No doubt. No hesitation. No small hint of hoping that they have gotten it right. They know they have.
I see this as having a firm connection to the fact that this group is, in the main, not just Christians, but evangelical Christians. Since they know that everything they believe is, well, true. it's very easy for them to carry that same belief structure into the realm of politics and governance. The only problem for the rest of us is the same problem one has trying to argue about religion. You can't get anywhere. They know they're right and you're wrong so there really isn't anything to discuss. I think this is why we are unable to find any common ground. This assumption of rightness overpowers any argument one chooses to make. And, by extension, anyone else with the same position must also be right so it becomes very easy to listen to the ranting of the birthers and Rush and Beck and the like. "They're just like me, so they must be right," becomes the the glue that sticks this bunch together.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled web surfing. Thanks for stopping by.

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