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May 20, 2010

Not Evil, Just Stupid

I think one of the most terrifying moments of my life happened during my childhood when my mother drove me home from my grandmother's house one night. My grandmother watched me during the day while my Mom was at work. One night she was very late coming by to pick me up -- hours late. When she did finally arrive, she was drunk. My grandmother pleaded with her to stay for the night, but she insisted on going home and taking me with her. The drive home was a nightmare, and I truly thought we were going to die: she was weaving all over the road, and very nearly ran head-on into oncoming traffic more than once. At last, a police officer pulled her over. At that moment, I realized: my mother could act irresponsibly, even childishly, and had put both me and herself in incredible danger. She didn't do it out of spite or malice. She did it out of thoughtlessness and a misplaced sense of her own ability to handle the situation.

I have the same feeling now about the politicians who are supposed to be guiding us out of one of the worst recessions in our nation's history. In both Europe and America, politicians seem to be flailing about wildly, desperate to be seen to be "doing something" but as often as not making the problem worse.

As Leo Isaak at Minyanville says,

I think Europe could very well destroy any hope of a recovery that we thought we might see. Not only that, I think it could push the world off of a precipice of debt that, if it were to occur, would create something resembling outright disaster. Austerity combined with savage debt service issues and crushing currency devaluation is impacting the entire world, and we're now starting to see the economic domino theory I wrote about a month ago. Frankly, I'm nothing short of terrified. These aren't words I use lightly.

I don't think our politicians are acting out of malice (even I am not that much a cynic -- not yet). But I do have the feeling that they are, as a group, simply in over their heads. That they are simply not smart enough or courageous enough to do the hard things that are necessary to get the world economy back on track. They are blown to and fro in every political wind, and fear for their jobs more than they fear for the future of their country.

And now I find myself wishing that the same thing would happen now that happed to my drunk mother so long ago: that a responsible adult would simply make them stop making the situation worse. I suspect that we -- the citizens of this debt-ridden Republic -- will have to step up and be that cop who pulls the drunk over.

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posted by Monty at 09:05 AM

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