Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fall, Fall, Fall

Everything's tumbling in a poetic sort of autumnal way. A financial crisis created by almost everyone has been blamed on, well, almost everyone. To summarize things very baldly, Democrats blame Republicans and greed, Republicans blame Democrats and their insistence on allowing the unworthy to borrow money, taxpayers blame politicians in general, and a few observers blame taxpayers.

The problem with such a blame merry-go-round is all sides produce evidence to establish their arguments but tend to ignore the evidence provided by everyone else. Plus, almost no one fully understands global economics enough to fully explain what precipitated this latest panic. Truth is, nobody's really wrong. Excessive executive pay and reckless lending and deregulation and deadbeat home buyers and a weak dollar and rising prices and unemployment and who knows what else are all likely contributing factors. Unfortunately, no public figure, to my knowledge, is both smart enough and objective enough to offer a detailed and balanced account of what has really taken place.

So whom can we ask? It would have to be a non-partisan person who pretty much knows and understands everything. I wish that person were me, but it ain't. How about Ken Jennings? Marilyn Vos Savant? Neil DeGrasse Tyson? How about a foreigner who has less stake in United States politics? Stephen Hawking? Nelson Mandela? It's pointless, really. No choice would satisfy everybody and no opinion would be likely to sway those who cling pugnaciously to preconceived notions.

During a crisis like this, the President of the United States very often receives a disproportionate share of responsibility. Even if you believe his policies have damaged the economy, it would be unfair to claim he created this problem all by himself. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to criticize the "Ownership Society" advocated by the Bush Administration and many other previous administrations of both parties (Only the moniker, not the notion, is novel). Emphasis on ownership, most specifically home ownership in this case, may not always be a bad idea, but somewhere along the line it began to be perceived among many as the key to the ever-elusive American Dream. Home ownership can, of course, be a marvelous thing and may fulfill the lifelong aspiration of many Americans, but a far more important component of the Dream is the ability to choose, the ownership--forgive me--of options. The freedom to decide for yourself what you want means far more than merely a house or an automobile. As a result of this political rhetoric, I fear home ownership has become greatly overvalued.

Crumbling fortunes and a plummeting stock markets may seem symbolically autumnal, but so far the weather remains quite summery. It is perhaps the only sunny news we're likely to get in the immediate future.


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