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Time to think smart or die?

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: March 26, 2008 1:39 a.m.
Updated: May 27, 2008 5:02 a.m.
"... However, Greenspan said that he hoped the fallout would not take away the finance industry's ability to regulate itself. Market flexibility and free competition are the most reliable safeguards against economic trouble, he said; the system which is supposed to guard against unanticipated losses will need to be overhauled. ..."

The above is part of a quote from an article written by Alan Greenspan and published in the Financial Times. Reading the above, I find it unbelievable that precisely the Wild West cowboy operations and light regulation that got us into this mess is recommended by a financial icon as the cure for the problem.

We wonder what he meant by, "... the system which is supposed to guard against unanticipated losses will need to be overhauled. ..."

Perhaps his statements could be summarized by suggesting that he's saying greed is good but a little overhaul that continues to give it unbridled reign is primary.

How interesting that we humans seem to be stuck consciously or unconsciously on certain levels of endeavor, in this case an economic outlook. Another comparison was the running of the war in Iraq under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, haughty and confident, while the insurgents reigned. Neither Rumsfeld nor the president, proud in his loyalty to Rumsfeld, could envision a new approach. At this most critical time financially since the end of World War ll, Greenspan recommends that we go gently and avoid bold moves that may threaten the freedom of the system. In other words, a narrow view of the system must prevail, even if it caused the problem.

One does not have to study economics, but the vicissitudes of human nature, to grasp one of the avenues to our potential undoing. Greed is good. More greed is better. Greenspan's idea got us to where we are, which he admits is not a good place, but lightly bridled greed must continue to prevail anyhow.

We say Russian Communism failed for several reasons. One of them was the lack of incentive on the part of workers. Five Year Plans did not inspire people as much as a chance to make a buck might have. But, unlike the Chinese, the Russians stuck to the plan and its slippery slope to dissolution.

Are we going to be smarter? Probably not unless human nature changes, which is unlikely, judging from its track record. On the other hand, if our continued existence is based upon the desire for some modicum of enlightenment, it may be possible.

My view is that we need regularly to look at a whole lot of our basic beliefs of who we really want to be in the world as individuals and a nation, and see if these ideas are taking us is really where we want to go. One of my favorite expressions is, "As we climb the ladder to our chosen endeavor we need to be sure that when we get there we haven't put it up against the wrong wall."

The Cubans have lived in organized poverty for more than 50 years. An idea has prevailed enforced by its leader. Regardless of its failure, it perpetuates itself. Russia took the same idea to its end, which led to its demise as a country. Are we stuck on some ideas that could potentially lead us to our end as a nation? Why would we be immune?

It is clear that some individuals and nations would rather die than change. Some of those who hold the idea of global warming in disfavor will stand on the foothills of Mt. Everest with the oceans lapping at their feet and 90 percent of the world deluged by water and they will have a rationale for their ideas rather than acknowledge the reality.

The current administration is convinced it can safely ignore good relationships with other nations as long as it gets its way. The idea that we could learn something from the Germans, French, or the people of China or India, is an anathema to them. It was the Quaker leader William Penn who suggested we might learn something from the American Indians, and he didn't mean how to plant corn. Imagine learning from those others called savages. This kind of thought does not emanate from a puffed up ego fed by fear. It comes from a mind seasoned in contemplation rather than some of American's favorite position, shooting from the hip.

The ideas we have as a nation centered around our militaristic and imperialistic positions are probably ones that require more examination and yet are most unlikely to be looked at. Ideas so basic that they are woven into the fiber of the nation's psyche are the hardest ones to look at. If you want to be a successful candidate for national public office you must state that you want to increase the size of the military. Saying you want to cut the military would guarantee your demise. And yet there is a litany of reasons why our military budget may eventually bring about our downfall. Two of them are the decline of the middle class and the increase in poverty.

We are at a watershed moment. Those who are not scared just a little bit may need to consider a truth serum. Those who are scared a lot need to relax as we all may come out of the tunnel we're in as better persons, as a better nation. The Great Depression and World War II helped bring us all together.

When we're all together in times of adversity we care more about each other. The opposite of greed is generosity. And we can't get too much of that.
Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita resident. His views represent his own and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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