Friday, February 10, 2012

NYT's Omniscience and Touching Faith In Government

A stubborn standoff is playing out this week between a nearly bankrupt Greece and the wrongheaded European partners it needs to pay its bills. The outcome is, sadly, foreordained. Greece will have to give Europe all or most of what it wants. It cannot survive without Europe’s money, even if it chokes on Europe’s conditions. By now, Europe’s leaders should know this approach will not work.

Translation - even though no one else can effectively predict the future, we can, and are so proud of our ability that we don't mind telling Europe's elected leaders how wrong headed we think they are.

Greece has contributed mightily to its problems. For years, the government falsified deficit numbers it provided to Europe, giving it cover to amass unpayable debts. A new government elected in 2009 blew the whistle, accepted a European Union bailout deal and then failed to deliver on market-opening reforms. With austerity measures shrinking the economy and tax receipts and European Union blunders raising interest rates, it also missed deficit targets. Europe’s frustration is understandable.
Translation:  If we didn't believe so mightily in the power of government to do good, we'd say you shouldn't trust governments, which make decisions based on political viability, to run stuff.  But we do.  So, instead of saying that you can't trust governments to run stuff, we'll point our finger again at the EU for running stuff so badly.  Because you see, it's not so much that we can't trust governments to run stuff, it's just that we've had such bad elected leadership for the last few years.  Indeed, we just need better politicians, who are as smart as we are, and all would be well.

In a democracy, majorities can be mobilized against special interests if they can see the economic benefit to their own lives.
Translation:  It's pretty easy to get people to vote for you if you can confuse them into thinking you'll give them something that used to belong to someone else, while allowing them to believe they are justified in getting something that used to belong to someone else.  A cynic would say that's why democracy is such an ignoble form of government.  We just think some groups are more equal than others, and that naturally plays out in way the political class divies out the spoils of capitalism.  Hey, there's no way to make people equal, so naturaly those more equal than others will find a way to get ahead via the coercive power that comes along with politcal connectedness.  It goes without saying that such a natural consequence of an all knowing and all caring government is hardly as wretched as people who get ahead by making profits! (And we ask you, is there anything more soulless than profits?) 

So that's what the NYT meant, as far as I can tell.  As for me, I just feel bad for the poor fools who gave their liberty to politicians thinking it meant they could sit back and soak up the benefits of political largesse, and now realize they can neither care for themselves or their children and have little prospect of changing things in the near future.  I admit that I can't predict the future of the economy, but a not so bold prediction I would be willing to venture is that the Eurozone is not about to elect a bunch of smarter politicians who will do a better job than the present bunch is doing.

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