Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Book Report

Oh, right! I still write at this blog.
Attaturk, you made my day with this Eschaton post. How can I let that smug, fratboy ideologue Scarborough ever get me riled up again knowing that an audience the size of the population of Plano, Texas is watching (and putting him in last place)?'
If you've been reading the papers or watching the news and wondering what in God's name they're talking about when they're talking about just what, exactly, is going on with the credit markets, the mortgage crisis, and our economy in general, you could do worse than to pick up Charles R. Morris's The Trillion Dollar Meltdown. It's a short 'n sweet explanation of What Went Wrong that's perfectly comprehensible to non-finance types like me. The "Chicago School" of economics and all that that implies (lax-to-no regulation, faith in free markets that aren't really free, and the grand tradition of privatizing profits and socializing losses, etc.) comes in for a well-deserved thrashing, which will be gratifying to anyone experiencing the effects of or merely watching this train wreck.
As I was finishing Meltdown, I read this NYT article about Americans drowning in debt. Yes, I was struck by the number of snowglobes in the subject's house, but I was struck even more by the number of people I call "friend" who want to punish her -- and severely -- as in, "Take her house and throw her out in the street! That'll teach her a lesson." Appeals to rationality (e.g., "Hey, it will cost us more as a society to care for her if you chuck her into the street than it will if we make sure she has a roof over her head, a job, and (yes) a manageable repayment plan") went nowhere. So I ask you, "Why are Americans such a punitive people?"
Did you see this yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

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