Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who Do We Listen To?

Barack Obama and Tim Geithner know the best way to fix the economy. So does John McCain, and so do his Republican colleagues. And without a doubt, the people who have the best handle on a financial fix are the folks who call in to talk radio. These talk show callers, and the hosts who take their calls, are always on the cutting edge when it comes to solving any problem whatsoever. The only problem that seems to avoid solution is the fact that everyone disagrees. So who do we listen to?

Prior to 9/11, a man named John O’Neill knew about the impending doom that awaited the people of New York. As the FBI’s top expert on Al Quaeda and Bin Laden, O’Neill had connected the dots, as the saying goes. Unfortunately, he didn’t know the exact date of the planned attack, and he was killed in the World Trade Center that fateful day. What makes this story relevant to the financial crisis is that John O’Neill was ignored by his own agency, the FBI, as well as everyone else who could have made a difference. To me, it’s a sure bet that there is some bright person out there who absolutely knows how to get our economy started again, and it’s an absolute certainty that his ideas are falling on deaf ears. It always happens this way.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is Sarah Palin Trying to Correct God’s Mistake?

It’s a catfight. Eowww. Ever since Sarah Palin’s unsuccessful bid for the nation’s second highest office, she has been in the crosshairs with animal rights activists for her promotion of the slaughter of Alaskan wolves. What was lacking, until now, was a public face to represent the people trying to save the wolves, but that gap has now been filled by actress, Ashley Judd, and the cat fight is on between these two fetching women.

Palin, in her role as governor of Alaska, believes that the wolf population has grown to the point where it threatens the elk and caribou herds, and in her role as a celebrated hunter she believes that shooting wolves from helicopters is the answer. In her role as a born again Christian, she also claims to believe in creation and a creator God. All of these different roles are confusing to me, and evidently to Palin as well. The situation in Alaska, with the wolves preying on the elk and caribou, is something called the “balance of nature,” and for people like Palin who believe in a creator God, this balance of nature is something that was set up by The Lord. Granted— sometimes nature can get out of balance. In Africa, where the human population and human environmental effects are now exploding exponentially, the balance of nature has been thrown off kilter, and the wildlife in Africa is now threatened. This doesn’t hold true for Alaska, however, where the human footprint on the land is comparable to what it was in Africa 200 years ago. So whatever is happening there in Palin country, with the wolves and the meat-on-the-hoof, is happening pretty much the way that God intended, if you believe in that sort of thing.

From her first day at the side of John McCain, it was obvious that Sarah Palin had a very high opinion of herself. It now appears that— just as she thought she was in a position to save McCain from himself— she now feels the same way about her God. Shooting wolves from helicopters is just her way of making God’s balance of nature work a little more to her liking.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Consumerism vs. Sufficiency

Advice from Rush Limbaugh about finance and economics is like advice from Hugh Hefner about dating, especially now that Limbaugh has a network deal that will pay him $400 million over the next few years. To put it mildly, he’s not hurting one damn bit, but that doesn’t keep him from trying to identify with his listeners when it comes to hard times. For those who don’t know, Rush is on board with the Republicans, pushing tax cuts as a way to save the nation from another depression.

I, myself, have absolutely no expertise in finance, economics, or business, but I am an expert on frugality. You often see those bumper stickers on ancient VW minibuses or old Volvos— they say, “Simplify,” and while I don’t display such a bumper sticker, I do support the sentiment wholeheartedly. I have my own opinion about the depression based only on what I see and read. I believe that it will get very bad and stay very bad for a very long time, and I believe that most people in government share this view but are prevented by political considerations from ever saying what they actually know in their hearts. The Democrats will get their massive spending, and the Republicans will be denied the pork reductions and bigger tax cuts which they want, and none of this will work the way it’s intended because the thing is so overwhelming that it’s like trying to shoot a housefly with a gun from 50 feet away. It doesn’t matter if you decide between using a rifle or a shotgun.

The people who survived the 1930s, and that includes the 75% who DIDN’T ever lose their jobs, were never able to part with hard-earned money as easily as the generations that came after them. I believe that as we go forward from this current depression, all of us will become experts on sufficiency, and less concerned with consumerism. That probably doesn’t apply to Rush Limbaugh, however.