Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ideology, compromise, and the big picture

Today was another publication day for me.  My letter to the editor of the Star Tribune was published as "Political Discourse: You want compromise?  Are you sure about that?"

Ross Douthat also wrote a blog about politicians jockeying for position rather than trying to solve problems: "The Roots of Overheated Rhetoric".

He does take a good look at bigger issues than just who believes what on some "little" issue.  However, I take issue with one of his statements: "a protective government ready to save us from our foolishness when the economy goes bad".

Who is this "we" in "our foolishness"?  Granted, many of "us" overextended ourselves with inducements from many sellers of this and that; a little reflection could have kept our credit card bills small.  On the other hand, credit was extended by "trusted advisors" who few had any reason not to trust.  When the mortgage officer at "Neighborhood Bank and Trust" tells us we can afford the mortgage, few of us have the expertise to ask the right questions.  And when "Oversize Bank and Trust" of Wall Street tells Neighborhood Bank and Trust that it will buy Neighborhood's mortgages, Neighborhood feels it can and should sell as many mortgages as it possible.  The whole problem was out of "our" hands.

Well, maybe not completely.  Enough of us believed the rhetoric about "getting the government out of the way", not realizing less government oversight meant less corporate oversight of the long-term effects of its short-term thinking.