Friday, March 27, 2009

Time Magazine's "Great Recession"

The cover story at this week's Time asks, "Is This Crisis Good for America?" The story rips the Reagan years as the precursor to today's discolation:

The '80s spirit endured through the '90s and the 2000s, all the way until the fall of 2008, like an awesome winning streak in Vegas that went on and on and on. American-style capitalism triumphed, and thanks to FedEx and the Web, delayed gratification itself came to seem quaint and unnecessary. So what if every year since the turn of the century the U.S. economy grew more slowly than the global economy? Stuff at Wal-Mart and Costco and money itself stayed supercheap! Even 9/11, which supposedly "changed everything," and the resulting Iraqi debacle came to seem like mere bumps in the road. Even if deep down everyone knew that the spiral of overleveraging and overspending and the prices of stocks and houses were unsustainable, no one wanted to be a buzz kill.

In the Road Runner cartoons, after each fall, the coyote is broken and battered but never dies. America isn't going to expire either. But unlike him, we will be chastened and begin behaving more wisely. For years, enthusiasts for unfettered capitalism have insisted that the withering away of enterprises and entire industries is a healthy and necessary part of a vibrant, self-correcting economic system; now, more than at any time since Joseph Schumpeter popularized the idea of creative destruction in 1942, we must endure the shocking and awesome pain of that metamorphosis. After decades of talking the talk, now we're all obliged to walk the walk.

We cannot just hunker down, cross our fingers, hysterically pinch our pennies, wait for the crises to pass, blame the bankers and then go back to business as usual. All that conventional wisdom about 2008 being a "change" year? We had no idea. Recently Rush Limbaugh appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, panicking not so much about the economy but about how the political winds are blowing as a result. If we finally manage to achieve something like universal health care, Limbaugh warned, it would mean "the end of America as we know it." He's right, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is the end of the world as we've known it. But it isn't the end of the world.

I'm in no mood to desconstruct this rubbish, although I can hope that Time goes the way of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It's not like there won't be more Pravda-style mouthpieces available.


Dave said...

This will come as a complete shock to Time's 12 remaining readers, but Ronald Reagan had absolutely nothing to do with the current world-wide economic downturn.

The seed for our current global economic predicament was firmly planted by Jimmy Carter way back in the 1970's.

That seed was summarily watered (not to mentioned fertilized) by the slobbering Bawney Fwank, Chris Dodd, Maxine Waters, and other assorted congress critters, who thought they could run the mortgage industry better than the people who had labored therein their entire lives.

And let's not forget Billy Jeff, who poured the whole box of Miracle Grow on the whole thing, just to give it that extra boost.


Anonymous said...

Ditto Dave, it was absolutely the fault of Jimmy Carter, before Saint Ronnie, and Bill Clinton afterwards. And other Dems also share the blame. No Republican could have any responsibility at all for any of our financial problems, which don't exist anyway. Kennedy/Johnson are probably to blame, too. And, of course, FDR.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see that DLB maintains his inability to read or comment effectively or with a tad bit of intelligence. If the dem Congress had followed JFK's ideas of tax rebates we would have been much better off as a country.
The fact that the dems have held Congress for much of this period, and did nothing, is why they hold much of the culpability for this mess. This does not, as DLB seems incapable of understanding, give many Republicans a pass for being tax and spenders when they had the chance to fix these problems.
One must consider that DLB and his ilk desire to not take a large measure of the responsibility is because it would get in the way of a corrupt belief system and actually think about how things work.
Dave is right as he commented.

Rich Casebolt said...

Oh, DLB ...

... in the name of consistency, I expect you and your fellow Leftists to show the same level of support for government-based health care that you did for the PATRIOT Act and "warrantless" wartime wiretapping ...

... for there is FAR more potential for civil-liberties abuse in such a system, than in the previous Administration that your fellow-travelers made such a stink about.

Or was that smell present, simply because it wasn't "one of yours" in charge, in accordance with your perceived birthright-to-rule?

Rich Casebolt said...

Blaming Mr. Reagan for our economic woes is like blaming the road contractor for drunk driving.

Rich Casebolt said...

Much of our present economic woe can be traced to one thing ... the wholesale delegation of our individual analytical responsibility to so-called "experts", in the hopes of getting something for nothing ... without even engaging our common sense to see if it all was for real.

Doing that in the private sector got us to where we are at today.

Now, we have another set of "experts" telling us that the way out is not just to delegate our analytical responsibility to them ... but decision-making authority as well.

Common sense, and recent/not-so-recent history, tells me that such a course is likely to be counterproductive to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ...

... for these new experts are even less likely than the private-sector ones to understand my individual situation, much less solve the individual problems I face ...

... and are much harder to get rid of, once they have illustrated their shortcomings.

Yet, greed -- the illegitimate desire of something for nothing, even if what you get is not as good as what you would legitimately get otherwise -- still blinds the common sense of millions.

Richard said...

The very astute Kurt Anderson wrote a lot more than the small bit you quoted. Here's another excerpt that says not all was negative since 1980:

"During the era recently ended, we adapted to hundreds of TV channels and multiple phone companies and airlines that arise and disappear as fast as strip-mall stores. Women have come close to achieving real equality; being gay has become astoundingly public and unremarkable. And speaking of shaking off addictions, half again as many of us smoked cigarettes in the early '80s. We watched (and helped) the Soviet Union and its European empire collapse and watched (and helped) China change from a backward, dangerous Orwellian nation into a booming, much less Orwellian member of the global order. During just the past 15 years, we've managed to reduce murders in New York City by two-thirds; grown accustomed to the weird transparency and instant connectedness of the new digital world; sequenced the human genome; and inaugurated a black President. That's change."

And who made all this great progress of recent decades possible?

I guess you'll say Ronald Reagan, right?