Just a quick note on the Wall Street calamities during the past several days...
Many of these problems got their start during the Reagan administration. If you remember, Ronald Reagan was very good at convincing the American People that Government was BAD. He pledged to shrink government and "get it out of the way" of the private markets.
This set off a trend of deregulation that spanned the next several decades and included the Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations. Basically, it was political suicide to suggest that such private interests as the banking industry should be regulated.
Oddly, it still is dangerous to make such a suggestion. I watched a speech by Sarah Palin the other night where she said (paraphrased): The regulatory system in this country is broken and outdated. Then, moments later, she contradicted herself and said that government should get out of the way of the private sector. Huh?
You can't have it both ways, but Palin knows that she's treading a fine line.
The issue, as I see it, is a deep-seated American belief that problems in life can be permanently "solved." Personally, I don't believe this is true. We are, as Joe Campbell writes, living along the razor's edge, all of the time. There are no panaceas; there is no "correct" ideology or methodology. There are only balances.
So, the best we can do it attempt to strike a balance between liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, government and private interest...it is ALWAYS a negotiation, eternally.
Therefore, the idea that government is bad and free markets are good is false (as is the reverse). The idea that liberals are wrong and conservatives are right is false (as is the reverse).
Just look at all of the Hillary Clinton bashers who now find themselves in the odd position of crying "sexism" any time someone critiques Sarah Palin. I find that funny (and sad...and ironic). The pendulum ALWAYS swings.
Anyway, the problems of Wall Street are a direct result of the lack of regulation. We basically said: "We can let the wolves run the hen house--because we think that government is evil" and now we're in tough shape.
We better hope that benevolent (European) friends invest in our banking system...or we're going to have to learn to speak Chinese very soon.
I've written it here before: One of the reasons so many in government have pushed for such a strong American military is because they know about our tenuous financial situation. Therefore, when the country goes bankrupt, we can try to hang on to our assets by sheer force.