Saturday, February 28, 2009

As a nation, we’ve been eating our seed corn for a generation. In corporate terms, we’ve been paying dividends that have exceeded our earnings. No matter what, our leaders assured us that this could go on in perpetuity.

So, here we are having blown in the interest of instant gratification a big slug of, if not all, our collective capital. Now what? Continue to believe that, if taxes are low enough, our economy is a perpetual annuity; or take the chance that our government, the investor of last resort, can intelligently underwrite the risk of rebuilding our devastated capital base and give our kids and grandkids a shot at similar opportunities to those we had? Clearly, it depends on one’s point of view and, more important, one’s perception of reality.

For nearly three-quarters of the the generation, Republicans held the nation’s highest office and point position for the country’s moral authority. During much of the time that they didn’t occupy that position, they controlled the nation’s legislative agenda. Now, the piper has called in his IOU by delivering to us an extraordinary global financial meltdown and collapsing economy.

President Obama’s proposals also are no less than extraordinary, but if it's true that “extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures”, one would not sense that the Republicans who teed up this mess feel that it’s anything more than business-as-usual. Either way, for the foreseeable future we will find ourselves in parlous times. The only difference is where we end up.

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