Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Come Back, Spock. All Is Forgiven.

Where's cold, hard logic when you need it? The deepening financial and economic disaster that's engulfing the United States seems to be triggering an incredible outpouring of the last thing that we need. Strong emotion. President Obama's pandering to the public about AIG executives being paid bonuses (which, from what what I understand, would be termed "commissions" in many other lines of work) is riding a wave of public anger over our apparent hostage-taking by the people we think go us into this mess, and who are now portrayed by some as the people we need to get us out of it.

I like to think of myself as someone who prefers the best solution to a problem, but I could just as easily be a hard-hearted bastard with little concern or empathy for others, and I recognize that. But if it was an unwise succumbing to "irrational exuberance" (Remember that little Greenspanism?) that got us into this mess, an unwise succumbing to seething anger isn't likely to be the best path out of it. In a very real sense, emotionality is at the heart of short-term thinking, and it was short-term thinking that sparked an unwillingness to see what was coming before it fell on us and the remarkable ignorance of risk that triggered it. It's also what's behind the impatience for solutions and for the heads of the "perpetrators." But getting what we want now, at the expense of the future, is what got us where we are now. And it's a one-way street. We need a different road home.

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