Monday, February 23, 2009

Economic crisis (again) – how do we get out of the mess?

Finally he is back. Bill Maher’s new season of ‘Real Time’ started again last Friday. He is one of the funniest guys on TV in North America right now, and certainly one of the smartest. The first show this season was all about – yes – the economy. Could you have imagined that in normal times? ‘The economy? On a comedy program??’ But here we are.

The show started off with reminding us that the crisis on Wall Street is just about to unravel, we have just seen the beginning. ‘Skank of America’ or ‘Shittybank’ (BM) are still close to the abyss, despite the earlier $700bn bailout. The central contention of the show was this: should the government be involved with another bailout, or should we just allow the system to collapse. After all, this is America, the home of the free market and individual liberty. Let the market sort it out, so Ron Paul on the show.

That didn’t go down well with the other guests. Crystia Freeland, North America Editor of the Financial Times, wasn’t having any of it. Her best comment was that since the bankers of the private sector had failed on such a megalomaniac scale, putting government bureaucrats in charge could certainly not make things worse, hopefully even better. Could you have imagined such a benevolent statement about government involvement in the economy from a Financial Times editor a year ago?

It was fascinating to see how ethical issues dominated the entire program. Congresswomen Maxine Waters, another guest, made an interesting suggestion: there should be the ‘Nuremberg trial for bankers’! That, however, was at least more realistic than Bill Maher’s very funny black humored piece on just ‘hanging’ two bankers, you know, symbolically. As they did in China with the managers who caused the milk scandal some months ago. That might teach these Wall Street guys a lesson…

It is a time of deep navel gazing in America and beyond. Bill Maher’s suggestion was that the last years have given rise not to the ‘American dream’ but rather to the ‘American fantasy’. What happened was not the pursuit of happiness through hard work which makes dreams come true but luring people into the illusion to raise their standard of living based on money that didn’t exist. And he concluded: ‘There is a difference between a fantasy and a dream. Boy do I know!'…

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have some thoughts you want to share about this post? We would love to hear them, so comment here (all comments will be moderated to prevent spam and random acts of advertising)...