Tuesday, March 10, 2009

a thought going forward

if there are no good options, then why can’t we let justice instead of pragmatism guide our response to the financial crisis?

i mean, the house of cards is going to fall, right? we’ve been dithering and hemming and hawing and such for weeks, months, now, hoping somebody has a lightbulb go off over their head and comes up with the magic answer that saves the day and lets us all go back to the magical wonderland we lived in up until a couple of years ago, where everything but wages experienced a double-digit rise every year and we were all going to get rich flipping houses or buying tech stocks and the neverending gusher of oil from poorer nations we could stomp all over with our awesome military whenever they got uppity or we just felt like it would keep our hummers and suburbans commuting back and forth to the ‘burbs that would sprawl as far as the eye could see from the high ground we would never have to retreat to because the oceans were definitely not going to rise, at least not enough to swamp our coastal cities, which were filled with latte-sipping elites anyway, so who cared?

unregulated market-evangelistic capitalism had a good run, but it’s pretty obvious by now that it wasn’t the way, the light, and the truth. mammon is simply not a worship-worthy god, and even if you take care of him, he isn’t going to take care of you (an experience not unlike waiting on a wealthy person at a restaurant).

so, as we plot the course forward, if there’s no way to avoid the rocks the masters of the universe have steered us onto, shouldn’t we at least see to it that they get wiped out along with the rest of us? and yes, i understand that dinging the bondholders along with the credit default swappers would clean out many worthy investors and regular people, but for those of us that think some kind of modified socialism, where, say, a baseline comfortable existence is guaranteed, which the ambitious and those otherwise desirous of greater prosperity could build on and out-earn should they choose, is the way forward anyway, it seems to me that putting everybody in something like the same straits to begin with just makes it that much easier.

if, at the end of the day, the people who made the bad choices that landed all of us in this totally fucked-up situation don’t suffer the same consequences as the rest of us, not only will i be outraged because of the injustice and unfairness of it all, i think we will have squandered the opportunity to evolve as a society into a better, more just, more harmonious configuration (and resource-allocation scheme). that there will be pain between now and whatever comes next is inescapable. so let’s make sure where we end up is better than where we came from.

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