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"Wall Street Socialism"

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Robert L. Borosage writes in Huffington Post this morning about the sweet deal the government is giving to FannyMae and FreddyMac, so sweet that like honey at a bris we hardly notice. The two mortgage buying "companies" are more corporatist than socialist, however. Borosage admits this when he says we should dispense with the greedy CEOs and "investors," cut out the middlemen, and nationalize the damned things! In fact Borosage's essay goes directly to the question of how an advanced economy should operate. Liberals and Progressives might bridle at the thought of "captains of finance" raking in all that personal fortune for doing almost nothing all year long or, worse yet, presiding over a debacle and still getting paid millions for it. But, the fact is that Liberals and Progressives don't have a better idea. If they did they would have come up with it sometime during the past 75 years, doncha think! Managing finance, as the Stadtholders of Enlightenment Netherlands discovered while the Dutch pretty well invented most of the basic tools and organizations of modern finance, is almost ungovernable. This is the basic argument between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Liberals believe in their hearts (bleeding or otherwise) that human nature is sufficiently well understood to warrant pre-emptive activity at the level of government. Conservatives believe that people in government are no less prone to the down sides of human nature and so we are better off just "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez" and cleaning up with available resources when things run amok. Behind the Conservative idea is the notion that in the bell-shaped curve of humanity only a few people are truly productive, investors and managerial "captains of industry," the rest being willing follower types, pretty much devoid of any real understanding of how the world works ... financially. Yes, of course, people from the "rest" do invent things and get handsomely paid for it, but seriously, most workers are just wage slaves and content in their modest imaginations. Behind the Liberal and Progressive idea of humanity is the notion that virtually anyone could at a moment's notice become a mover and shaker in society, including the realm of commerce ... seen as just one of many realms of personal exploration and personal enterprise. (You see Liberals are heir to a medieval Christian tradition (overturned by the way by those who reasoned out the Predestination argument) that honest Christians do not prey upon one another in the marketplace. Of course this fuzzy valence in Liberal thinking has been dissipating for a couple hundred years at least, but it still corrupts rational thought in the strangest of places.) The result is that Conservatives and Liberals fiddle around the edges of the financial world, concocting theories of how it actually works, believing their concoctions, and wincing (or throwing themselves out of windows) when things start to fall apart. Humans being short-memory creatures soon grow tired of monitoring their fellow man ... and their fellow man soon grows tired of modest incomes and thinks he has the way to reap huge profits before any one of the non-bored hall monitors notices. The Liberals are correct: human nature always includes people who find ways to buy low and sell high, and the Conservatives are correct that whateveritis are natural things that God put upon earth to be bought and sold, and so cornering the market on them and selling them back to Liberals at a great profit must also be God's plan. And around we go again, except this time the number of toes that will be crushed as the wheels of finance grind out the grist of greed will be enormous! JB
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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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