Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tonight's specials

Financial Times:

“Everything they put on the table helps the banks disproportionately compared with homeowners,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic & Policy Research, a left-leaning think-tank. “Because the Federal Housing Administration will be guaranteeing these loans, when they go bad it’s the taxpayer out of that money, not the banks.”

Everything they put on the table helps the banks, the insurance companies, the employers, and so on, disproportionately compared with the homeowners, patients, employees, etc.  This they call "reform": bribing the powerful in order to induce marginal improvements for the weak.  Of course, when so little consideration is given to human welfare in the first place, small improvements can have enormous effects -- as when one is employed vs. unemployed, for example; or has health insurance vs. none, a roof over their head, etc.   

But the metaphor of the table is very useful.  Let us remember that what is put on the table is always a function of whatever interests are at the table in the first place.  If ordinary people spend most of their days chasing after the aspirations of their employers first, and families second; or otherwise fail in the task of distinguishing between the two, then they are not at the table of national deliberation at all.  Other interests have assumed this role, because it has been made available, and they can afford to be there.

Eventually, Americans will have to recognize the injury that is done when our best energies are directed toward ends that, in the bigger picture, have never been our own.  Always remember Nietzche: if we give away that amount of reason, earnestness, will, self-mastery, which constitute our real selves, for one thing, we don't have it for another.  Naturally, many comforts are lost in pursuit of this truth; but what we give away for comfort we don't have for other things.  These are not easy questions.

Returning to our metaphor of the table.  There is an excellent quote which if you have followed this blog long enough you may recognize, and which I first learned from a corporate manager quoted in the Financial Times: If you don't have a seat at the table, you'll end up on the menu.


Enron said...

The r-word is the domestic equivalent to unacceptable.

Jack Crow said...

You (and the piece about Jane over at Corrente) got me thinking.

I'd kindly appreciate your thoughts and criticism:

I humbly accept that you may have neither the time nor the inclination.

JRB said...

Jack Crow,

Thanks for posting, buddy. I'll drop you a line in the coming days.