Friday, December 12, 2008

Brother Couldn't You Spare a Dime?

Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans killed the auto bailout bill last night. They may have killed off two of the Big Three as a result. Watch the market go into free fall today. Enjoy the ride. This will likely be the final act of the Republicans in power. This is what conservatism and free market mythology gets you. Idiots ran those companies and now the lives of about 2 percent of the American population hangs in the balance. Congratulations folks. Maybe the saviors Bush and Paulson will throw some TARP funds their way instead. Gee there's a warm feeling.

5 comments:

The Sotten Libertine said...

I am tempted to quote Gladiator but I will instead let imaginations run wild as the Senate is wont to do. The American people had a the chance to make one of the Biggest Corproate Machines in the world listen to and subsequently serve their needs in a cooperative enterprise rather than the current, "Here's your ticket to support the Jihaad", model and their Elected officials blew it.

Pudgy McCabe said...

Please explain the following in terms of your Manichean cosmology:

http://www.newsmeat.com/fec/bystate_detail.php?zip=10022&last=MADOFF&first=BERNARD

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/nyregion/13madoff.html

ba a/k/a Gravitar Profundus said...

dearest pudge:
I've only followed a bit of this particular piece of financial horrors. This may be an example of outright criminality but the environment is one that looks the other way at more pedestrian versions of this sort of thing, making a big fish like this one more able to get away with the real thing. Although the instruments in question were devised during the Clinton admin, and they were also complicit in the initial loosening of the regulatory scheme in the mortgage biz generally, the wholesale avoidance of monitoring and enforcement, the reduction in budgets across the board for regulatory agencies was a creature of a very specific Bush induced "conservative" philosophy which rejects the notion of government involvement in such matters. The chairman hisself, Mr. Greenspan, admitted in an unfortunately lightly covered hearing that his Ayn Randian belief in the goodwill of individuals in engaging in enlightened self-interest was perhaps misplaced. Criminals are drawn to environments where they can get away with their crimes easily. That's as true in the slums as it is on Wall Street and the past 8 years shows what happens when there is no one around to enforce the rules. I would think that conservatives should embrace a regulatory scheme with enough propriety to keep an eye out for guys like Madoff playing the biggest games as well as all the street level bankers and mortgage brokers ripping people off for their short term gains. But they love their money and hate their taxes more so this is what we get for the trouble. Well-meaning guys like Greenspan (to give him the benefit of the doubt) adhere to their philosophical principles as an experiment in human behavioral science at our peril. And we pretty much lose every time. Philosophies of the right like Rand's are as dubious as those on the left like Marx's. For me as a former semi-academic they are useful as control experiments for seminarial discussion but they should never be put to the test in the real world. Humans don't act right so scientific principles don't work. That's why I appreciate that my particular discipline of history is still considered one of the humanities, merely using some of the tools of science on occasion. But since we study humans, science just won't work as a complete analysis. And for that matter, a complete analysis is never possible; another reason why history remains a useful area of study. It's a messy business but we humans prefer it that way as it's what keeps us interesting.

Pudgy McCabe said...

Well, again, I find your characterization of “the right” doesn’t really match my experience. Randroids are considered with pretty much universal disdain among serious conservatives, and if you reread your Albert Jay Nock you’ll notice how the entire medium of finance is viewed with deep suspicion (going back as far as the Revolution). I think Charles Beard may reflect this viewpoint as well:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_A._Beard

As an historian, I would expect you to take a longer view than you seem to be doing here, and to exhibit a more skeptical attitude. I understand the relief of most people that the nightmarish Bush era is ending, but again he seems a pimple on the ass of finance capitalism rather than some sort of John Randolph of Roanoke acolyte.

If you want to call corporatists and financiers and Randroids and free-market shills “conservatives,” you are going to have to come up with terms for people who don’t fit that bill yet describe themselves as such. Otherwise you might as well call Bill Clinton a Trotskyite.

Pudgy McCabe said...

Some interesting further reading at the above link, demonstrating some of the variety of the American Right past and present.