The France of 1789 and the USA of today have a few important elements in common: a striking inability to sort out any national problems, an arrogant, depraved ruling elite resistant to reform, and an intellectual underclass motivated by blind fury. Some signal differences: most of our even theoretically best-intentioned "leaders" -- i.e. elected officials, business, education, and media figures -- are unable to articulate the problems we face, which go way beyond the mere distribution of political power or even wealth. (In fact much of the so-called Left, especially the faculty intellectuals, are preoccupied with esoteric sideshows around wealth, power, and the ridiculous "politics" of gender.) Paul Krugman and David Brooks have no more of a clue about the implications of Peak Oil than Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.
The resounding message of Senator Levin's hearings on Goldman Sachs last week is that Wall Street is a shitty deal for America. Okay, now everybody knows it. Nobody has an excuse for not knowing it. The machinations ongoing over a financial reform bill seem to be leading to a rather feeble outcome. The only people who are excited by it are -- surprise! -- a bunch of economists, who will soon be relegated to the dumpster of discredited professions along with necromancers, alchemists, and magnetic mesmerists. My guess is that something lame will pass, it will be instantly denounced as yet another fraud, and then the next move is probably the stock market's. A return of volume will signal a return of cratering equities as all the indexes give up their hallucinated gains of the past year, and all the pension funds and college endowments and banks who flocked there in the desperate search for yield will find that they were hosed.
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