Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fear and loathing

I can't exactly disagree with Eugene Robinson.

I remember the conservative movement and the Republican party being a lot more hopeful and confident in America 30 years ago back when the Gipper was elected president and it was 'Morning in America'. There was a renewed hope and faith in the American dream and the knowledge that we could and would win the Cold War. Back then, it was mainly the left who was playing up the fear factor and trying to scare people of the 'aggressive' president and the Armageddon that might surely follow if he won another term.

These days, it seems that both parties have embraced fear and are choosing to wallow in it.

The right seems to be in a constant fear of the Other (fill in the blank), an ever shifting group of nefarious individuals who are so close to overthrowing America and our way of life that if they (fill in the blank), it's all over and we might as well lay down and die.

The left establishment seems to be very afraid of, well, itself and the American people. While I find many personal examples of articulate liberals who are willing to argue and debate their ideas and show some sort of backbone, their leaders seem to be completely unable or unwilling to do the same in the public sphere, which leads me to assume that they are either secretly ashamed of their own ideas, or afraid of rejection by the public.

And sadly, America is worse off for it.

It's worse...

From Bloomberg,

Sales of U.S. previously owned homes plunged 27 percent in July, twice as much as forecast, evidence foreclosures and limited job growth are depressing the market.
Purchases plummeted to a 3.83 million annual pace, the lowest in a decade of record keeping and worse than the most pessimistic forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. Demand for single-family houses dropped to a 15- year low and the number of homes on the market swelled.

I'd like to see some redeeming signs in the economy, but I don't.

Thinking about the easy credit pitches (and fallen for them myself) in the years before the housing market collapse, where you were told by the 'smart' people to pull equity out of your home to fuel consumer spending because prices would only continue to rise, it would seem that this news makes a consumer driven recovery unlikely, as fewer consumers will be able (or willing) to continue to buy unnecessary items, resulting in a prolonged reduction in demand. Which has led to a reduction in income for business, which leads to layoffs and higher unemployment, which leads to further reductions in demand, etc., etc., etc., until the market stabilizes itself perhaps years down the road.

Now, if you're more of the libertarian philosophy, you're probably willing to accept this as part of the natural market cycle, suck up the hangover pain, and eventually things will right themselves. It's a position I'm sympathetic to, because market intervention can be costly in terms of money and opportunity, and government action generally adds inefficiencies to a market which can have negative externalities.

But I'm also sympathetic to the more liberal position, where we need to back strong government intervention on the demand side of the economy to spur consumer spending, increase demand, and tax breaks and incentives for small businesses to hire new employees. And given that this hangover will have real harmful effects on businesses and families, and acute suffering, I'm more inclined to support economists like Paul Krugman who are advocating a larger stimulus package. 

Responsible nations and rogue states

So, if I understand this correctly, the gist of the author's argument (based on Henry Kissinger's work) is that the United States should be more willing to engage in 'limited' wars with states we define as rogue and put off the vibe that we would be willing to use nuclear weapons if they don't acquiesce to our demands. And the unthinkable alternative is we go back to pre-WWII days where the United States did not actually go about attacking other nations unless they attacked us first. 

And doing former would make us a responsible nation in good standing merely asserting its interests and protecting itself and not a rogue state engaged in antagonizing other states, starting wars, and threatening to annihilate millions of people in a nuclear holocaust.

Maybe I should rename the blog Outside the Asylum.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First post

I suppose I should start with who I am.

I'm yet another aspiring writing by night, and a middle manager by day in an IT department. I live over on the Left Coast in the United States, with my wife,one very little one (and one on the way) who is becoming quite adept at causing trouble as he masters mobility, and two dachshunds who server as furry little vacuum cleaners always following a foot behind the children.

Politically, I identify as a left-leaning libertarian, and I despise both major political parties at the moment. Though I confess as a disillusioned ex-Republican, I tend to be more critical of my former party, and really, can you blame me? (I think George W. Bush converted quite a few of us to Independents.)

My background was in religion, and I am a protestant Christian who frequently struggles with the theology I was raised in: evangelical fundamentalism. As a result, I've been reading older theologians to further engage my mind and discover more about Christianity's past and traditions.

Expect further posts on politics, religion, my writing progress (or lack thereof), as well as: television, movies, food, card games, and anything else that strikes me as interesting. Most of this is going to be cathartic for me, but hopefully some visitors here will find it interesting and stick around to talk and debate.