Friday, December 5, 2008


These are some comments I made in various other blogs that I think are good enough to stand on their own, here.

Paul Krugman, in a note on the greatness of Keynes, quotes Upton Sinclair:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
More than salary, even, it strikes at pride. It is the journeyman's arrogance: the feeling that because of their intimate knowledge of their work, that they have nothing to learn, and they are doing everything perfectly. Isn't something like that at the core of many "information-and-markets" arguments? The idea that the people in the market know not just a lot of their business, but everything about it, and how their businesses relate to all other businesses?

In his admirable mea culpa on the ongoing economic disaster, Brad Delong wrote, "We could have interrupted this chain that has gotten us here at any of a number of places. And I still am trying to figure out why we did not."

Surely, widespread corruption and a lack of the old conservative virtues? It is enough to make one believe in demonic tempters! We'd spent decades persuading ourselves of a number of things that were plainly false: most significantly that unregulated markets somehow can discipline themselves. It seems to me that in the second half of the 20th century, the USA mass culture went from a belief, at both the individual and social levels, in intense harsh self-discipline, to license, without every passing through moderate, sensible self-discipline in the middle. I hope we will see more of that in the future, but I am not hoping too hard; moderation is one of the great philosophical teachings, and one of the ones that seems to most need repeating.
An aside on Obama's personal ideology, over on Digby's blog:
I don't think we know Obama's ideological stance. Like a lawyer avoiding a trial which he could lose, he carefully avoided the judgment of the public on ideology, instead promising an improvement over W. Bush, who the public had already judged and found wanting. And this has won the election. We can only hope he will govern well. Early signs are promising. I worry, however, that like LBJ and Lincoln, Obama is making too many concessions to the militarists and the authoritarians--opponents implacably opposed to all moderate policies.


Anonymous said...

Well, if Obama does only as well as Lincoln, is that actually so bad?

Raven Onthill said...

He should be as great as Lincoln, indeed. But--the Reconstruction failed. With the help of a conservative Supreme Court, the South re-segregated, and it was another century before blacks were free.