I was reading Yahoo Finance and came across the following Associated Press release:
“Democrats are looking for a way to respond to the public’s outrage over taxpayer money being used to bankroll big bonuses for financial executives without alienating an industry whose cooperation is crucial to the nation’s economic recovery.The House Financial Services Committee planned to endorse on Thursday a bill that would let Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and financial regulators decide whether an institution was spending too much money rewarding its employees.
The measure would exempt institutions that agree to participate in a government-sponsored program aimed at buying up $1 trillion of bad debt, or “toxic assets,” sitting on the books of major banks. Geithner proposed the new investment program on Monday.”
This is the third-world stuff that dreams are Madoff: the threat that if you are not a GSE (Geithner Sponsored Enterprise) you will not be exempt from arbitrary legislation.
There are other third-world portents: the printing of money (James Grant keeps stressing the link with Zimbabwe’s Central Bank); the threat of inflation; the prop-up-the-stock-market investment advice by the government; the punitive retroactive tax legislation; the corruption. Not to mention the grandstanding by senators from CT and congressmen from NY. among others, who are hardly exemplary themselves.
I come from South Africa during the bad days, where, though it was a second world country, there were big moral battles to be fought, and one of the few things that was inspiring about politics there was that politicians in those days thought it was their job to lead the country, to inspire them, to have some view about what’s right, to persuade, to be political leaders, not followers. Here politicians often think it’s their job to take the temperature of the country and then set their own verbal thermostat to the same level, to surf rather than to steer.
From Yeats, unfortunately clichéd already:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
From Schopenhauer again, always interesting even after two centuries:
The normal, ordinary man takes a vivid interest in anything only in sofar as it excites his Will, that is to say, is a matter of personal interest to him. But constant excitement of the will is never an unmixed good, to say the least; in other words, it involves pain.Card playing, that universal occupation of “good society” everywhere,is a device for providing this kind of excitement, and that, too, by means of interests so small as to produce slight and momentary, instead of real and permanent, pain. Card playing is, in fact, a mere tickling of the will.
Originally published at Wilmott.com and reproduced here with the author’s permission.