Thursday, November 27, 2008

Insanity - economics!

Just to prove that we really don't have a handle on ye olde crystale balle - try this:

Laugh a little.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Depressing depression. More bad economic outlooks.

I got to this:

from here:

What I have to say is this - the recent collapse of the leverage market amounted to a collapse in real money supply- or perhaps it is simply my ignorance that makes it seem so to me. The first article above, which is long, and took me two sittings to read, tells me that we are on the doorstep - that road last seen in 1929-1931. The international economic news is very sobering. Russia continues to show signs of a collapsing economy, as does Europe.

What is amazing about this article's take on the Great Depression is how little it was, and is, understood. Which is exactly how even very bright people are describing the current economic circumstances. On NPR news recently was an interview with some guy from the WALL STREET JOURNAL (!). He expressed that he had been shocked, somewhat by the market corrections, but more so by the depth of each consecutive failure!

Frightening? I'm getting past being frightened. I just hope our fears don't come true. Gentlemen, I don't know where to head! One assumes that a tight monetary policy is a bad idea, but which stimulatory policy will do the job, and which one will leave us in the lurch?

I'm not really that depressed about all this, and it is fun to think about these things - but they are also truly frightening.

Cheers, I'm off to paying bills - a positively mesmerizing activity after this gloomy session! I think I'll go find that bottle of wine in the back of the pantry . . .down one for me, boys!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

on 2 year presidential campaigns

Two years of political statements, debates, and speechs. You would think that was too much, yes? I don't. I think we may have finally gotten back to real political campaigns.

Ever since Kennedy debated Nixon on television, politics has been dominated by smaller and smaller sound bites. [The epitome, ultimate one of those stereotypes is either]Sound bites have given the stereotyping of Democrats with "tax and spend", and the swift-boating of John Kerry. [I'll let other people argue about which was the greatest, but I know that] These sound bites were a travesty - a mockery of real political discussion.

A two year campaign meant that we got to see each candidate, to understand who was supporting them, and why, and we got to know something of what they stood for. We got to see them under pressure, not just once or twice, and not in only controlled environments. We got to see them respond to many challenges. We had an opportunity to observe them in action, and not just one or two of them - many of them.

I don't know, but I suspect that when Lincoln ran for president, his speeches were well-attended, well-reported, and oft-repeated. I suspect that most people had a good idea of what the candidates stood for, because they were real news at the time. People would have paid a great deal of attention to what they could hear. And, others would willingly perpetrate great lies, but most people would also know something of the character of the people speaking, and would recognize a less reliable source as just that.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran, we had radio and whistle-stop tours, but I believe the same principles would still hold true. The campaigners would be well-listened to, because they were one of the few things going beyond the ordinary bounds of daily life. A campaign speech was a notable event, and as such, got attention.

Today we have a glut of availability of exciting things, things that are beyond our ordinary realm of daily life. Television shows take us around the world, or traveling in time, or into flights of imagination, at the flick of a switch. Movies have come, via the television and the internet, into our homes and our lives. Education, fiction, news, games - entertainment and mental activity are more than readily available - they are thrown into our path so that we may not ignore them.

One of the wonderful things about traveling to other countries that are less occupied by the media and material things is the quiet that persists through each day. So much of the stimuli that we are bombarded with is simply not there. Life takes on a simplicity, and you realize that you do not need to hear the news each day. The world will not collapse because you haven't heard the latest bit of noise that is available for offer.

In earlier days, our American people lived like this - from day to day. What a political candidate had to say would have been news, and worthy of one's attention. Today, we so much vieing for our attention that the candidates no longer get it. This is quite recognized as why the sound bites developed in the first place - to counter the reduced amount of time a person was willing to spend listening and considering.

I think, though, that this time, we may have found the counterpunch to the sound bite - the long campaign.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

On Russian democracy, and the future

I am disappointed in Mr. Putin. While his peaceful term in office has been highly beneficial to the majority of Russians, the direction I see his government headed in, will, in the long run, almost certainly be less than beneficial to the majority.

The continuing deaths of political opponents has passed the "smell" test - it stinks of involvement. While the economy may continue to do well, compared to the international economy, it is because of the presence of oil - Russia's Athenian silver. Cronyism and corruption abound, and there seems to be a lack of concern for the average man. The end result must be that the benefits that the economy will bring to the majority must shrink.

This is only a very very short statement of opinion. There is so much more to be said, and discussed, on the subject, but I promised friends I would have something here. I will write more on this subject in the future.