Monday, March 23, 2009

Wake Me When Geithner Go-Go's

I have to admit I'm the perfect stooge for what's going on right now in the U.S. While I'd like to think I'm relatively intelligent and definitely more politically aware than most, financial stuff is my greatest hole of unknowing. It's true even on the personal level--I've had the good fortune to have enough money as an adult that I don't have to worry and I've just trusted that will continue. I've been slow to plan for my retirement; uneager and unmotivated to move money from a simple savings account into anything that might make my money more money. Considering figures and investment strategies just make my brain go dreamy, or something--I'm just not wired that way. Amy has always hassled me about how I can spend so much time considering baseball stats and the glories of PECOTA at Baseball Prospectus trying to pick a winning fantasy baseball team--why can't I spend just an iota of that attention on finance?--but I get what David Wright's 65.8 VORP means on the field as I can watch him play. Trying to even understand what a derivative is makes my brain hurt.

So the banking crisis seems like science fiction. Yet I know I should pay attention, try to know something, at the least do what I do in areas I know I can't really get it--figure out who I should be reading and trust that they're analyzing things well. So it's good to see Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone lay it out for me, and even seemingly explain me to me in this passage:

By creating an urgent crisis that can only be solved by those fluent in a language too complex for ordinary people to understand, the Wall Street crowd has turned the vast majority of Americans into non-participants in their own political future. There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power. In the age of the CDS and CDO, most of us are financial illiterates. By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system — transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below.

Yes, the crisis is so bad it means Rolling Stone is actually a valuable source of journalism for the first time in decades. (Even if the cover of that issue is sexed up Gossip Girls.)

Where do we start? Everyone must agitate for Obama to dump Geithner, for us to insist we know he's too much a part of the original problem to be a solution. So write those emails, folks....



Blogger Marty said...

More to read on this subject:

2:05 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Hear, hear George.

And you know -- all seriousness -- I had a similar "epiphany" a few years ago as to why I had no excuse not to start understand this stuff: my ridiculous level of arcane knowledge about baseball & sabermetrics in comparison to my embarrassing ignorance about my own finances and the economy as a whole.

And I approached the remedy of the problem the same way I did baseball, by reading the renegades, the really smart guys, the funny writers, etc.

3:32 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

ooo, George, you need to talk to Mike more!

wv: norswedu

9:40 AM  

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