That is the height of irresponsibility,” Mr. Obama said angrily [re $18 billion Wall Street bonuses]. “It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility.
Well that settles that. Mr. Obama showed remarkable restraint refraining from the dread Presidential Finger Wag.
Even with ‘change’ and All That we Americans are still mere spectators. Now new fingers push on the American balloon. All the same words. ‘They should’ and ‘we will not stand’ are followed ritualistically with ‘we must.’ And nothing happens. Oh, the American dullard masses get a token trophy like cancellation of a long standing aircraft delivery. ‘Go away kid, you’re bothering me.’
Which prompts one to ask, what precisely has American-style capitalism (defined in its terminal phase 1995-2007) really accomplished? Is it really worth ‘rescuing’? Why shouldn’t we consider significant alternatives on purely practical grounds — alternatives beyond mere regulatory tweaks?
There’s the old truism that one bad story will get you a regulation; two, and you will get a law. So this isn’t about the depressingly predictable 2008 bonus dispersal per se. Although it would be nice to see Obama et al. do more than scold and institute proceedings for disgorgement prior to further tax payer subsidy.
What we have in 2008-2009 is the worst of all worlds — weak socialism. ‘They’ did such and such. ‘We will fix’ such and such. It’s just like Bremer’s CPA all over again. No one is ever accountable for draining the well of the unborn American’s future standard of living. Many wiser minds than the Stiftung summed up our puzzlement by asking if American capitalism as an economic model is fatally addicted to the false wealth of bubble economies.
Joseph Stiglitz: We had the tech bubble, followed by the housing bubble. But once we fix the recent mess, what will replace these bubbles as the engine for the economy?
Feldstein: What will replace the consumer spending bubble?
(Both men): We run the risk of the economy becoming depend on constant stimulus to replace these bubbles.
Stiglitz: I worry that after two years of stimulus, that the economy won’t be going on its own, and then what will we do?
More pressing in the near term, how ever will Wall Street ‘talent’ get their bonuses? (And all the assorted pilot fish of law firms, Big Accounting, ‘PR’ firms and others in the non-value creating microcosm). And will anyone really give a damn besides a stern talking to?