What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Sunday Verse

EUROZONE HUBRIS BLUES APPROXIMATELY*

When one sad day and desperate not long from now
A tidy Teutonic bureaucrat presents his furrowed brow
In the halls of Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, Dublin or Warsaw;
When such as these must at last endure that tidy visage raw:
Entrusted with a duty most stern, hardly undertaken pleasurably,
To deliver to some city of the Eurozone periphery
Word of submitting finally to Franco-German yoke:
Real austerity for a hundred thousand folk
From public payrolls and security cut off;
A million more their pensions made measurably more soft.

When one forlorn and dismal day from Brussels does depart
A delegation whose message, couched in technical terms of art,
At base bespeaks of taking not the scalpel but the axe
To venerable welfare budgets until little is left intact:
When this dreary spectacle so long feared is observed,
And talk of Germanic conquest no longer sounds absurd;
Then ‘round the world shall ring
That Common Currency is no longer king
But Teutonic sovereignty imposed,
And any retreat from imperial Europe foreclosed.

When on that drab day Frankfurt central bankers consummate
This decisive blow for their mantra “We will not inflate!”
Will integration and finance capitalism, bereft now of disguise,
Be free to strut about at length and discard emollient lies
And dare for once declare its true principle:
“Private creditors must always be made whole”?
Or will a reckoning break in upon the public mind
Which issues in a realization, long tenaciously denied:
“We can have a generous dole funded by steady economic growth
Or we can indulge our envy — we cannot have both”?

When one dim and darkening day, as whispers have long foretold,
No German balance sheet, no synthetic neo-deutschmark sold
By even the cleverest rocket science modeling risk probabilities
Can avert the crack of doom, can calm the quaking knees
Of financiers and securitizers stalking every trading floor
In Paris and in London, faraway Dubai and Singapore
Nor sparing Basel, Frankfurt, New York or Reykjavik,
Every last bank integrating capital, the globalization trick;
Liquidity and margin calls, swap spread, three-party repo:
Mystique of technicality like any human hubris is laid low.

When some distant gloomy day a streak of light obtrudes,
When delusion and entitlement give way to a saner mood:
The predicament will be found at bottom not fiscal or monetary at all,
But rather a crisis of spirit, a loss of faith and enterprise withal.
For at back of any promise out of public treasury to provide
Security from want and comfort in retirement besides
Is the assumption of procreation of the productive class of men
Whose industry and ingenuity rewards not only them;
No less than the assumption of procreation of the laboring type
Whose hard work by small increments stores up the nation’s wealth and might.

When one far off happy day restoration of health draws near
When society is again a partnership beyond the now and here
A partnership across the generations, from long dead to unborn
From the toughest capitalist to the humblest family’s lowest born
Democracy of the dead, alive and well
Its truest form, noblesse oblige, upon our progeny fell
Nobility obliges. Above all to the least of these
The Creed of the Cross, the yoke that frees
And then at last our society’s contract will find it will not fail:
The one institution against which hell’s gates shall not prevail.



________
* Apologies to Bob Dylan

Comments (15)

"When society is again a partnership beyond the now and here
A partnership across the generations, from long dead to unborn..."

Which is what social democratic institutions are at their core. The problem is that you've written in an cryptic manner what could be stated very simply: Keynes, Keynes, Keynes, Friedman, open exchanges, limits on leverage, and a 70% marginal tax rate.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/delong120/English

"The Creed of the Cross, the yoke that frees
And then at last our society’s contract will find it will not fail:
The one institution against which hell’s gates shall not prevail."

Seems way too Utopian. Wait until the world becomes Christian and then all will be well is another version of "Seventy virgins". The solutions are on the left. We know what to do, we've done it before.

The solutions are on the left.

What a sad, sorry, distorted, disturbed, and thoughtless bunch of noise. To the extent that the left has ANY "solutions" they are the solutions of Christianity: caritas. Since Christianity doesn't specify in detail what love requires in the concrete circumstances of an economy, other solutions - or explanations - are needed. The left has nothing to offer that solves economic problems. Even though there are many possible wrong answers available from the right, the only good answers will also come from the right, because the left doesn't have any: it can only take the wealth produced by an economic system and use it up, for good or ill.

"...the only good answers will also come from the right"

Please share. The right proposes austerity, it hasn't worked in Europe proper, Ireland, Latvia, or the UK. Paul pointed out last year that Europe as well as the UK has rejected Keynesian approaches; conservative "solutions" have failed; what do you propose?

Wait a minute: Did Al just imply that Keynesianism is conservative? Or am I not getting that comment?

Lydia, Paul had a post last year in which he gloated over "The silent slaughter of European Keynesianism" thusly,

"By late June the American Keynesians were pleading with European statesman to strengthen and extend stimulus measures; but they found to their dismay that all their old allies had been slain. Austerity was the somber watchword. Even the cries of deflationary trap and a second Great Depression from the pages of The New York Times would not avail them. Nary a Euro-Keynesian was left standing, not even a new Aeneas to flee to the west and found the new kingdom."

As his (and others) glee was somewhat premature, I have endeavored from time to time to mark his post to market.

As you are no doubt aware the United States and Europe had some economic problems in 2008.

Briefly, the U.S. under Bush and Obama engaged in flawed but effective methods to save the banking system and applied a small, and hence marginally effective, stimulus under Obama. Had these things not been done we should likely all be selling apples on street corners.

Meanwhile the peripheral Euro Zone nations developed some problems - debt due to corrupt and lying governance in Greece and current account deficits in the others (Italy is somewhat different). Germany has a current account surplus. This is unsustainable and the ECB has been refusing to act like a central bank should in circumstances like this.

http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5008

The response in the UK to the current recession was to reject stimulus and go to austerity. That has failed - austerity is contractionary and leads to a vicious downward spiral.

Keynesian economic approaches ARE conservative in that they are designed to step in when the capitalist engine sputters (magneto trouble) as opposed to more radical measures (socialism, communism, fascism). This presumes a cyclically balanced budget in which surpluses are run in the fat years and deficits in the lean. This approach was abandoned in the early 1980s in the US. (This, of course, has nothing to do with the term "conservative" as it is currently used in American politics.)

As it happens the current crisis that afflicts us, Europe, and the UK is textbook Keynes, Hicks, Minsky. Its solution has nothing to do with meekly supporting plutocracy while praying for yet another Great Awakening. Hope this helps.

So, are you recommending socialism instead of Keynesianism, Al, or are you in favor of more Keynesianism? (I'm not even sure why I'm asking.)

Don't bother, Lydia. Here, I'll show you Al's inattention to the arguments of his opponents: I can quote his own words acknowledging that my "silent slaughter" post evidenced no "glee."

Paul, ... I thought I detected Schmittian glee in your post but apologies if it wasn't intended.

So he's already apologized for the accusation he falls back on now, when pressed.

Now, if I know my man, off to the hard work of a leftist libertarian in the wilds of California.

"In the halls of Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, Dublin or Warsaw"

That's all nice and all, except Warsaw does not fit with the others. For one, its economy was not good enough to join the Euro club, for another the Poles are not in debt because they're not overspending. Poland is actually doing pretty well, if you take the lack of colonies to exploit,
50 years of Communism and destruction of WW2 into consideration.

You're probably right, Pete. However, I did have in mind some remarkable words from the Polish foreign minister:

"I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say this," he said, "but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear its inactivity."

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2011/11/29/polish_foreign_minister_urges_german_action_on_euro.html

"So, are you recommending socialism instead of Keynesianism, Al, or are you in favor of more Keynesianism?"

Socialism, in its many variants, is a mostly discredited 19th century theory of how an economy might be organized in a more just manner. Keynes was a twentieth century British economist who had some brilliant insights into the functioning of market economies.

These may be of interest,

http://voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/6668

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/feb/15/who-was-milton-friedman/?pagination=false

"(I'm not even sure why I'm asking.)"

Asking is good.

"Don't bother, Lydia. Here, I'll show you Al's inattention to the arguments of his opponents:"

Paul, the internal contradictions in many your posts and their often ending in a complete non sequitur can be confusing to us simple folk. However, I will endeavor to persevere.

For example,

"For at back of any promise out of public treasury to provide
Security from want and comfort in retirement besides
Is the assumption of procreation of the productive class of men
Whose industry and ingenuity rewards not only them;
No less than the assumption of procreation of the laboring type
Whose hard work by small increments stores up the nation’s wealth and might..."

here you seem to have fallen for the current plutocratic snow job.

Do you really believe mass conversion is our only hope?

This also may be of interest,

http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/keynes.html

Do you really interpret poetry in so swallow a fashion?

I don't claim it's great verse. I'm only a blogger and you're only a commenter. The stakes here are pretty low.

However, when we speak of a grant of comfortable living in perpetuity from the productive people of a country to that country's retirees, by definition no longer productive -- well, that's a higher stakes game. If, Al, your view consists in pretending the generational crisis is of no consequence, in pretending that a society's decision to cease reproducing has nothing to do with its difficulty providing for its less fortunate, then own that view and stop playing games, man. Or go back to pouring concrete.

Also, Al, I'm waiting patiently for a response to a comment posted at your insistent request:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/07/the_silent_slaughter_of_europe.html#comment-168756

"Do you really interpret poetry in so swallow a fashion?"

Gulp! :)

"Or go back to pouring concrete."

Hummm? Bourbon scorn for anything that might produce a callus?

Jeff C,, what does another country boy think about that?

I am well aware that all social insurance schemes require generational continuity and are a function of procreation, immigration, and productivity (do a thought experiment involving the invention, at long last, of replicators).

I was referring to your division of things into 'job creators' and "workers," a partisan ploy that kowtows to plutocrats. You may have so absorbed those talking points that you were unaware of it.

Paul, I just found it strange to spend all those electrons only to wind up with a vague hope of an Awakening coming along to save us, when we got here by abandoning the things we learned (and achieved) the hard way from the great Depression. As I pointed out awhile back this may be 1913.

"Also, Al, I'm waiting patiently for a response to a comment posted at your insistent request:"

In process but we are enjoying an unseasonable spell of dry weather and here abouts we have to make hay while the sun shines.

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