Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And .. We're Back.

It's been a month since my last post which also means that I've had Olive for a month.  Apart from doubling in size, learning a whole bunch of stuff, hijacking my schedule, and charming everyone along the way, the most essential piece of news is that she survived, as did I.  The living room carpet, on the other hand, is a whole different story.  

The other reason for lack of posting has been an intellectual paralysis of sorts.  Maybe it's the lack of time to properly chew on things and write something reasonable or maybe I'm just numbed from it all.  It certainly is not because of not much stuff happening.  

Take for example the end of February, when Obama released his 2010 Budget.  It did little more than formalize his widely broadcast intention to reform healthcare, yet the market somehow found this entirely shocking and troubling.  It felt like September and October of last year all over again.  Yes, exactly - the post-Lehman meltdown, except on 0 sleep (this was also the second day after Olive arrived).  There is so much more I could say on this topic and yet I won't, quite simply because that I is all I read and talk about all day and another mention of health reform would likely induce vomit.

One observation, however, that I am planning to explore further at some point, is just how this crisis/recession/fuckup seems to be slowly but surely decomposing some of the core principles that this country claims to be built on.  We have already turned against foreigners (don't let them take our jobs!), then came rage against people who make a lot of money (they got us into this mess!).  I am curious albeit a bit scared to see what else this crisis will produce.

George Packer at the New Yorker describes the fine line against populism and paranoia more eloquently:
... if interest politics turns into the kind of populism that rejects all forms of institutional authority—and we’re closer than we’ve been since at least the nineteen-seventies—the public mood will sweep aside Obama’s program of reforms and quite possibly turn into a new sort of reaction: anti-bank, anti-Washington, anti-immigrant, anti-global. The populist temper and the paranoid style are not the same thing, but they are related in obvious ways: when the former loses its bearings, it can degenerate into the latter.
It certainly doesn't help that instead of tempering the public rage, the elected officials are instead capitalizing on it with ridiculous laws like the 90% tax on the folks are AIG (the ridiculousness of which only became fully obvious to me after reading this op-ed in the Times).  It is somewhat ironic that this country had a similarly emotional period not too long ago, and many decisions made at the time - however popular - were regretted a few years later.  

NYCweboy has a good post with observations about the current rage.  What interests me most is what sort of lasting impact this all will have.  It is just a temporary phase, or will we see some permanent damage?  It was, after all, economic crises combined with skillfull political manipulation that have led to some of the most abhorrent events of the 20th century...  

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