Socially, politically and economically, we are entering uncharted waters. We appear to be at the cusp on some major transformations. The issues are rather complex, seemingly beyond the comprehension of the present crew of economic advisers. The result is a dogmatic fallback to past practice and the sustaining rhetoric of ideology which serves to aggravate the chasm and foretell profound and perhaps not reconcilable positions. But, as Yogi Berra said, “its tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” and “the future ain’t what it used to be.”
The public’s faith in our economic and political institutions is as low as its ever been. They have been wrong too often, and have proven untrustworthy occasionally. This lack of trust will only increase. We seem to be under the influence of something Bob Dylan once told the press, “I’m just a song and dance man.” Where are we headed?…
Michael Ferguson: Beyond any doubt there is nothing to be done with those who are befuddled and don’t know it. To attempt to instruct them reminds me of ( Robert A. )Heinlein’s admonition, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.’ So hence forth I will simply chuckle and walk away.To which I might add this from Henri Bergson: “The comic comes into being just when society and the individual, freed from the worry of self-preservation, begin to regard themselves as works of art.”
However, there is no shortage of pigs willing to try. There is something about American culture that spawns these singing pigs and the field of economics is not excluded. It is rife with Billy Mays style pitchmen and women, generally individuals of middling intelligence but tremendous salesmanship. Incredibly, some of the most loquacious become ensconced as authorities resulting in many actually believing in the pronouncements, often to a greater extent than the author’s themselves. Its hard to fathom that at one juncture Paul Samuelson and Lester Thurow were marginalized as wild and irresponsible and today the nation is blessed with the media savvy of a Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman, who, on the public level often seem more preoccupied with burnishing their brand and keeping fresh cash rolling in through speaking engagements.
Krugman: “Central bankers have really spent their whole careers being tough on inflation, and what we really need to do is the reverse right now. What we really need to do is borrow some central bankers from Argentina.”…Such conditions call for the continuation of expansionary deficit spending, which can serve as an antidote to excessive private-sector saving, he argued.
Yet concerns about price increases continue to fuel the argument for monetary contraction, when, in fact, some inflation could be helpful in reducing the real burden of debt, he said. “In a way, we inflated our way out of the Great Depression.”…”We are in a very, very strange time. We’re in a time where things that would normally be the sensible, reasonable thing to do can actually be disastrously wrong,” he said. “We’re living in a time in which, for the time being, virtue is vice, prudence is folly.” Read More:http://www.financialpost.com/todays-paper/Lagarde+wrong+times+Krugman/5027344/story.html
Constance Rourke’s pioneering “study of the national character,” from 1931, singled out the archetypal figures of the Yankee peddler, the backwoodsman, and the blackface minstrel to serve as examples in showing the fundamental role of popular culture in fashioning a distinctive American sensibility. It was, and is, vagabond nation in perpetual self-pursuit.De Tocqueville also remarked on this, latching onto the concept of American exceptionalism and the seeming facility of the citizens to change identities.
Roubini, Krugman et al.are something out of nineteenth-century burlesques and comic almanacs. The same soil that nourished Melville and Poe who went on to expose America’s fascination with what can be termed “untrustworthy narrators”
Ferguson:America is headed for a divorce. And the rest of Western civilization is not far behind. The cultural cocoons being created by the fragmentation of content consumption and the isolation of like minded people into virtual communities is destroying whatever cultural homogeneity that may have existed in America. As people isolate themselves from those who have different values and allow the politically motivated to describe the other side to them, they become progressively more sure of the correctness of their viewpoint and the moral turpitude and misguided notions of those belonging to other principled beliefs….
…These factors lead inexorably, over time, to the death of nation states and representative democracies and the emergence of virtual nations and market based governance. The emergence of boutique villages will exacerbate the situation by creating a physical cocoon to go along with the information one. The multiple residences in multiple governmental units that will come to typify the Knowledge Class will weaken national identity. Dual citizenship will become common. People will begin to ask the question, ‘What benefit do I derive from sharing a body of laws, programs and policies with people that fundamentally disagree with my world view, cultural outlook and value system?” Progressively more often the answer will be ‘none.’…
…Boutique villages will begin to aggregate in global networks of cultural homogeneity that will engage in larger scale social projects and programs. These virtual nations will, with greater frequency, demand political autonomy from the the nation states and provinces within which they are geographically imbedded….
…This will not be a Utopia by any stretch. Read More:http://thefuture101.blogspot.com/p/transformation-part-two.html
Ferguson:Our objective should not be to eliminate debt or even freeze debt, but rather to determine prudent debt levels as a percent of GDP and then enact budgetary constraints that will ensure that we stay within those boundaries. We may say, as the most liberal constraint, that the Federal Debt as a percent of GDP should stop increasing. That actually gives us a great deal of wiggle room….there is absolutely no doubt that Federal Deficits of $1.4 to $1.5 trillion, at this time, are not sustainable. They need to be brought under control. However, the Democrats are misrepresenting the situation in order to find cover for tax increases and the Republicans are misrepresenting the situation in order to cut programs with which they disagree. Neither is giving an accurate representation of the actual situation. Furthermore, for whatever reason, the pundits are not correcting the demagoguery….
…It is critical for Congress to begin the dialogue toward enacting legislation that will assure that the Debt does not increase as a percent of GDP and that , over time, budgetary constraints assure that debt levels reach and remain at an appropriate level. This can be done, as it was in the past, while continuing to engage in prudent deficit spending….Read More:http://thefuture101.blogspot.com/a