Noting that the Alaska Permanent Fund just took a ten billion dollar hit, with more to come, I am motivated to consider once again the ramifications of the world financial woes. What we are looking at is the collapse of a very large and very diverse bubble and the return to reasonable evaluations. The Alaska Permanent Fund was never worth what it seemed. It was just so much paper, invested in things not worth what they were priced at. So we are reaching from some semblance of proper evaluation. And we are not there yet. A large part of this comes from the fact that the United States in particular has gone from a productive economy, i.e, an economy that produces real things like beets and bulldozers to an economy that produces very little but instead appears to gain wealth by inflating the value of everything, from real estate to corporate executives. Our gross national product has been largely smoke and mirrors. The mirrors are now being shattered and the smoke blown away and we are for the first time in a long time looking reality straight in the face. The good news? This is happening while there is still a chance for recovery. The bad news? It will be a brutal one, especially for those whose perspective has long been clouded, who have come to think that their homes were worth more than they are, their pension plans worth more than they are, and their work worth more than it is. This is especially true for those who produce nothing, like investment firms or HMO's, the middle men who have taken the bulk of the false profits to themselves. It is less true for those who actually produce. Indeed, their part in this has been undervalued, and so they may well be on the rise. They are in a position to rise. They actually offer something of real value, their productive capability. I trust the unions will find some relief and with that relief the ability help see to that.
Now add to this the evidence that the presumptive next President will be a centrist. Barak Obama is hardly the screaming socialist the right has labeled him, nor is Nancy Pelosi nor Harry Reed. Indeed, there are few leftists in the government. The government is about where the American people are, center right to center left and never far from the center. It is the leftists and progressives who will be disappointed in the next administration. We are not going very far to the left. That is the beauty of American government, it is anchored by division. Nobody has enough power to go anywhere weird, the notable exception being the present administration, which took so much power to itself that it drowned in it. That is more typical of parliamentary systems. Except that the parties in most parliamentary systems are not so stupid or arrogant as this one. They know they will suffer for it if they are. So for any who thought we might be entering an era of progressive government, I am sad to report, you will have a long wait. For one thing, the Republicans, as they always do, have bankrupted the country. We have no means by which to progress and will not have for a very long time. The best we can do is repair a few bridges and pave a few roads, maybe even fix some schools.
What we can do though, and must do, is economize, which is to say reduce the excesses to non-producers and create a safe environment for both entrepreneurs and workers. Among other things, it is essential that we fix the health care system by sharing the burden. Our companies can not compete with companies whose health care is provided by the state, which is to say all of the people. That has killed or nearly killed General Motors. I never understood why anyone would expect corporations to bear social burdens. All I want from them is profits for their share holders and obediance to the law. That is why we have government, to bear social burdens.
Economy will also take us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We can not and never could afford such useless and/or senseless adventures.
The long and short of it is that I am pretty optimistic, at least for the longer term. It will be hell for awhile though, hell few of us have ever seen.
Also grateful for the gift of the Bush Administration, the lessons it taught the country about the costs of foolishness. I trust eveyone is now smarter about politics and perhaps more careful with their votes. I am especially encouraged by what I am hearing from the right. They seem to be looking forward to working with President Obama. After all their silly rhetoric about his radical nature, they have suddenly seen him for what he is, a rather mild and well considered moderate, and a blessed relief from the radicalism we are soon to leave in the past. Should anyone still ask why Bush's ratings are so low, it is because he is a radical and the country is not. That he is also stupid probably helped, but that is not what turned people away. It was his craziness.
Oh, should John McCain come from out of the dust to surprise everyone? Well, he is also a moderate. Except for not being as mild, smart and attractive as Obama, and infuriating the entire universe if he were to pull it off, that would do this Democrat's heart good, to see a sort of Republican have to clean up this mess, and get blamed for failing. I am entirely ready for that kind of irony. And just mean enough to enjoy it. O.K., John, here is the manure pile, and here is the pitch fork, two of them. You can put the lady on the south side of it. When she is done, she might just be up to the job. She might also want to change her clothes. But even that would not advance her career. She would be dead meat. Left standing, God only knows where she will go. Surely not back to Alaska, which will be a blessing for them.
Don't forget, vote early and vote often. As I have done. I too once lived on the south side of Chicago.
Next week we can find something else to do.