Monday, October 13, 2008

#94 The Bailout Again--Two Views for the Price of One

I'm a Libertarian ... (slap!) ... No, a Liberal ... (slap!) ... Libertarian ... (slap!) ... Liberal ... (slap!) ... OK, I'm her mother AND her sister, Mr. Gittes. Please stop.

At least as regards Political Economy, I've always been a bit schizoid, even polarized. It all started I think with two charismatic academics from opposite sides of the Dismal-Science fence when I was right around college-entrance age. Our teacher for 12th-grade Honors Civics was Mr. Tip-Of-My-Tongue, a rabid anti-communist in bow-tie, pin-stripes, and wing-tips--a very dapper, graying-at-the-temples fellow--with an M.A. Unusual for a high-school teacher at the time, but I'm sure it was in History and not an M.B.A., because otherwise he would have been out earning a living in the real world, and not wasting his ideological fervor on us kids. I guess.

A couple of books, classics, as I was later to learn, stand out for me in that class: Sociologist David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd (with its "tradition-, inner-, and other-directed" business) and Economist Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom. The latter, along with co-conspirator Mr. TOMT, convinced me that any government involvement WHATSOEVER in The Economy would lead us to the salt mines of Siberia. Tax a piece of candy, and pretty soon the State would be telling you What Flavor, and soon be interfering in other areas of your political life, until ultimately getting right in between your bedsheets, and generally violating your moral privacy all-to-hell. Now that I've for sure mis-characterized him sufficiently--it was a rather slippery-slopery argument in retrospect (thus prima facie fallacious), but also classically Adam Smithian premise-wise, whose "invisible hand" laissez-faire-ism had a clean, simplistic appeal to an economically blank-slate senior in high school. Thus you could say that I was a sociologically tradition-directed and economically inner-directed upon graduation. Pretty much.

But that lasted for only a couple of years, until I took Econ 101 at Kalamazoo College from Dr. Sherill Cleland, a rabid Keynesian in bow-tie, pin-stripes, and wing-tips--a very dapper fellow, but too young for graying temples at that time. What is it about bow-ties and Economists?--but they couldn't have been more wildly apart on Economic Theory.

But more of this later. Must check on the NYSE, which at this very moment is setting sales records (upwards), and may, in so doing, prove my point while increasing my portfolio ... as if I had one anymore.

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