Thursday, October 02, 2008

Alternative Viewpoint: What are we waiting for?

Hello, blogosphere, my name is Susan and I recently met Soren at a fundraising event for Congressman Keith Ellison, one of the "Yes" votes for the Economic Rescue Package voted down in the house earlier this week. I just had a somewhat heated discussion with Soren in which he asserted that an economic meltdown is just what this country needs to snap us out of our current consumerist-driven catatonic state. I thought this somewhat callous and so I am posting this response in Soren's blog space, which he has generously agreed to share with me for the purpose.

I have read Congressman Ellison's defense of his vote on the "Bailout" package (don't think that the irony inherent in the extreme right and extreme left using the same loaded terminology to describe this measure is lost on me) and have accepted his vote as one of good faith, reflecting his understanding of the current economic situation, however flawed that may be, which I share. His stance was published in the Star Tribune Op Ed section, and can be read here: Keith Ellison's OpEd on the Bailout Package

There are several other Op-Ed columns in the Star Trib saying essentially the same thing: the bailout package, while far from ideal, was a good short-term measure to prevent economic collapse, despite being so unpalatable and so unpopular (I think the numbers showed a 75% disapproval rating from the voters). Ellison's vote and subsequent defense of it could be interpreted as an act of moral courage if it weren't so deplored by those on the left, right and center of the political spectrum. I would argue that if one were to look at this issue with a critical rather than a reactive and fearful eye the rescue package would seem less abominable. Indeed, it is nothing more or less than triage to a system that has been allowed to weaken as its regulations decay.

Soren has asserted that the whole damn system is a reflection of a perverted collective imagination, a fever-dream that has no real manifestation in reality. I again would counter with the reflection that people's homes, jobs and financial well-being, while perhaps not necessary for their survival (homeless people somehow manage to stay alive, after all) are nonetheless not something that should be discounted as frivolities that distract us on our path to Nirvana. People come home from work where they have spent all day earning "imaginary" money to pay their "fictional" mortgage so that their bosses portfolios gain a couple of points of "fabricated" value; people's lives revolve around the "lie" that is our collective economy but that does not mean that the economy does not affect people's health and well-being.

Mainstream society is against any sort of tax money going to protect the interests of Wall Street on principal because they have taken up the cry of both the right and the left: don't use our hard-earned tax money to interfere with the market just so that the very rich get off scott-free for screwing us over. In principal, I would have to agree but what mainstream society doesn't understand is that their day-to-day life is reliant upon the financial solvency of these banking Goliaths and however satisfying it would be to see them fall, they take us with them when they do. Soren may be looking forward to Bartertown but middle America sure as hell isn't.

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