Thursday, October 09, 2008

Some post-debate analysis

"Although Obama is winning, neither he nor McCain seems to have a genuine grasp of how grave our economic situation is, how stark the prospect of a looming possible Depression. You'd never know from this evening that 5000 Dow points have been lopped since the previous debate and that those retired or near retirement have seen their portfolios crushed and have no hopes of recouping those losses in their nonproductive years. Not to mention all the job losses that the Wall Street plummet portends." James Wolcott - Vanity Fair

"Though both candidates spent a while (and it felt like longer) on the economic emergency, I didn’t feel that either’s comments advanced the discussion, or seemed equal to the gravity of the situation. Almost the first words out of McCain’s mouth were “energy independence”; almost the first words out of Obama’s were “blame deregulation”. We know, we know. Neither gave much indication that the crisis was leading them to think things through afresh; one wonders what it would take to do that." Clive Crook - Financial Times

“These days, you have to struggle,” she said. “As a kid, I used to be able to go to the movies or to the zoo. Now you can’t take your children to the zoo or go to the movies, because you’ve got to think how you’re going to put food on the table.” Snodgrass’s parents had raised four children on two modest incomes, without the ceaseless stress that she was enduring. But the two-parent family was now available only to the “very privileged.” She said that she had ten good friends; eight of them were childless or, like her, unmarried with kids. “That’s who’s middle-class now,” she said. “Two parents, two kids? That’s over. People looked out for me. These kids nowadays don’t have nobody to look out for them. You’re one week away from (a) losing your job, or (b) not having a paycheck.” George Packer - New Yorker
David Seaton's News Links
Americans are so used to suffering privately in a general climate of cheerful banality, and have so little knowledge of history, that they may not realize what a potentially perilous moment we are living in.

With the world economy in spitting distance of collapsing, the lame duck President of the United States, in the process of losing two wars, has approval ratings of under thirty percent, and in an exclusively two party system, with no other alternative possible, the Congress, controlled by the opposition, has approval ratings of under twenty percent.

At this juncture, one of the objectively gravest in US history, the American people are being asked to choose for their new leader between two political dwarfs who have not managed put forward any major ideas or to suggest any meaningful, much less inspiring, path out of the situation.

This is as close to systemic failure as I can imagine.

In many extremely civilized countries this would guarantee millions of sullen, if not violent, demonstrators in the streets demanding action.

With much less cause, many countries have suffered coup d'etats.

The question would be: is inane banality and a fundamental lack of seriousness, America's fatal curse or its saving grace? DS


bailey alexander said...

What an interesting post. When I lived in NY, you'd say hello and everyone was just great! It's a survival mechanism.
When living in Rome and Paris, I see people crying on the streets, on the cell phones, just yesterday, walking down from the Pantheon, there was this woman bawling over her cafe. The French do sad, not malaise, but sad, very well, I realized how well after my mother died, people that were generally formal and distant, barely acquaintances, became quite kind.
They don't pretend all is well, when it's not. And quite often, it's not.
Now, when you're talking about this economic crisis, a comment isn't adequate, but I am absolutely shocked at how stupid many american bank employees are...and these are the people advising. I still have an account with a few cents left to cover payroll in the States and have great counsel, but that's at Wells, though that has not been the norm.
Though few understand or respect international banking protocol. And to watch the squawk box playerz talk about how naive the middle east stock exchange plays makes me laugh, so fucking insular and yet guess what, we're all in the game together now, it's called a global market and it really, really is.

Banking in Germany is serious, on most levels they have to understand, here in Paris, they have interns they train at the banks which isn't helpful.
Recklessness used to be part of our charm, in so many ways, now it to our demise, most definitely, and having lived thru the Seattle tech boom i couldn't believe how many bought into this idea of paper wealth and not having a clue as to how the stock market should be understood, not as a risky short term gamble, but a long term investment.
Too much corruption which I've seen front row, too, too much stupidity.
ok, enuf ramble, but your post struck me, very.
Or maybe I just had way too much coffee.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Good comment, thanks.

RC said...

I vote: Curse. The effect is spreading throughout the land now, but the inanity distracts the cursed.

Marcy said...

When I leave my house here in central NY these days I feel like I'm stepping into an alternate universe where the price of gas is down so it's all good!! I live in dread of what these people are going to do when reality finally hits them like a bag of hammers.