Vital Signs

Being and Nothingness

The financial collapse, which loomed so large more than a year ago as trillions of dollars disappeared and politicians ran for cover, may have suggested a lesson or two.  The chairman and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, the former head of Goldman Sachs (nice name, that), the president of the United States, two candidates to replace him, and many another all showed evidence of panic and a remarkable unanimity of opinion, which finally turned to the image of printing lots of paper.  Jumping down and spinning around to pick a bale of greenbacks, the national leadership junked years of economic theory and development so decisively that the field of discourse was abandoned to the opposing ideology of statism, socialism, even communism.  No limit whatsoever was accorded to the assumption of debt, and that for—whatever.  We would have bailouts or bale-outs for the financial sector and the banks and the automobile industry, and a revolution in healthcare, all at the same time as gross deficits, numerous wars, and blame enough to go around for just about everyone.  The citizens, or many of them, had long since maxed out their credit cards and borrowed against their houses: The bubble was inclusive.  And so was the shared but unstated assumption that we want the bubble back—the bubble was a good thing.  As Warren Buffet said, when the tide is going out, we find out who’s been swimming naked. ...

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