Monday, December 12, 2011

Are we afraid to fail?

I've been wondering for some time now, why Capitalism doesn't seem to work anymore.

John Huntsman, one time Ambassador to China, Governor of Utah, Morman, had two very interesting things to say today on Fareed Zakaria:

"Capitalism without failure, isn't capitalism."
"Our tax code is like a 1955 Chevy on a 21st century superhighway."

We don't seem to want to pay our bills as a nation, anymore. No secret in that. We seem to want to decrease our taxes to a point that we don't have money to work with. Republicans seem to be based upon that as a national agenda.

Mr. Huntsman thought we needed to break up the banks so they aren't too big to fail, and we need to make our tax code to work for everyone, big and small, across the board, and eliminate escapes for everyone, not just corporations. As part of a middle class that is shrinking exponentially in size over the last few decades, that last part is a little concerning. But theoretically, I get it. And at least he isn't following the Republican agenda of simply spewing inflammatory "doublespeak" (from "1984" by George Orwell), or "nonsense-speak", or "whatever-will-at-the-time- happen-to-spark-the- tiny-primal-brain-speak".

We're supposed to learn from our failures. Our greatest leaders and innovators all say that failure is what leads to success. But if we have institutions that are too big to fail, what does that portend? Big dumb institutions who get away with economic murder. Literally. I too had been afraid of these big institutions failing, but that wasn't the issue. How they were allowed to get so big they cannot be allowed to fail, is. Not to mention, what in the Hell do you think the monopoly laws were about?  Things just like this. But the issue isn't any longer, a monopoly is a single instance for where you can go for a certain product or service; now it is about too few out there supplying us, where the same kind of thing can happen. The "55 Chevy on the superhighway", issue.

Say, what happened to the days when being "Republican" was a good and noble thing? Being mostly Irish, I have a different perspective on what Republican means. Sorry, that just crossed my cerebral cortex. See, unlike many I see on the media today (Palin, Gingrich, Bachman, idiot placeholder #1, #2, etc.), I still have one.

My older brother was telling me yesterday how what my daughter is doing is a good thing for a musician. She is traveling the world performing music and paying for her travels with that income. Starting in Iceland, she's in Greece now, leaving for India as her next destination.

So my brother was saying that back in the days of famous musicians street performing and in small clubs, etc., they met all the right people to give their works substance. You work hard, your goal is your music, to entertain, you get direct access to people and input, and you are closely bound with your fellow performers and other performers of a like mind and environment.

Then once you "make it", you are guided by different principles, you are friends with all the wrong and different people and you don't have access to that vein of wonder you started with, that made you so great.

I think that must have a lot to do with our politics and that whole crowd, too. Because they seem have obviously lost something along the way. Intelligence? Sanity? Integrity?

But getting back to the banks being too big to fail, I think that is a very good point.

I wondered why that was happening, but never considered (or could figure out) how that could be happening. Deregulation? I keep hearing, "let the market guide things", but that is like saying, "let your five year old guide how he wants to live". Which any parent can tell you is an unbelievably stupid idea. You have to give structure, then within that framework, you let them run as free as possibly, but so they don't kill themselves or you. They aren't really free, they just feel like they are free. But even then sometimes, they throw a tantrum, they have a fit, and you deal with it, until it passes. Then in the end, you have maintained control and they go on their merry way, hopefully to grow to become good and happy world citizens.

Not what we've done with our financial institutions. They threw a fit from time to time and we backed down like little schoolyard cowards.

Have you noticed I've been seeing a lot of cowardly actions in our leaders and we the masses lately? We seem to be afraid of pissing off the banks, afraid of not making all the right decisions 100% of the time, regarding terrorists, and so on and on. With the terrorists, again it's like in the schoolyard, we're afraid to anger the bully or he might hurt us or give us a dirty look.

When really, if he attacks us, we need to beat the Hell out of him, and prove to him violence is a bad idea (we did), then give him a reason to not hate us (not so so much yet), then stop worrying about him (nope). You don't forget about him completely, maybe keep an eye out for his actions, listen to the grapevine, but you don't cover yourself in mattresses, and hire people to follow you around the rest of your life, turning him in to the authorities or beating the crap out of him if he sneezes, or locking his friends up, some of whom aren't his friends, either they just know him or maybe have never even met him. You can't freak out every time he looks at you.

See, those things would be cowardly. I've never seen the American Eagle, acting cowardly. Benjamin Franklin called the American Eagle a vulture and wanted the turkey to be the American bird, but he simply liked to eat, methinks. Even geniuses are wrong sometimes. He also said: "A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war is only a great gang."

Gangs are built out of fear and grow in ignorance (of the compassion of the impact of their actions upon others, if nothing else). And bullies are basically cowards, who are so afraid of everything, they have to attack anything they can so they can feel more secure inside. Which are we?

One more thing, or two. George Washington said:

  • No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.
  • The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, ’till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all.

The point of all this is, we need not to be too big to fail. We need changes in our government to update us to modern times (the trouble there is, we are going to let these leaders alter our Constitution? That is a very terrifying prospect, regardless of how badly we need to modernize). We also need to get back to being brave, courageous, stand up types, polite but not afraid to be appropriately aggressive when necessary, and return to our ingenuity in finance, business, education, and general attitude. Where has our intellect gone these recent years? Seemingly, it's been replaced by fluff and nonsense.

We need to pay our bills and have the money to pay them with. We need to move forward with foresight and intelligence not governed by political fears of gaining, or losing, our job in Congress, or wherever. We all need to pull our weight and not expect to get gold delivered to us in buckets (CEOs, yes, I'm talking to you, and corporations and financial institutions in general).

We need to get our act together and stop being afraid of everything, expect we'll get hurt by other from time to time and not hide from it, and not be afraid of some hard work and difficulty in life from time to time. Otherwise, we have difficulty in life, all the time.

Especially, this is true of our national leaders. This is a great nation. We need great leaders. But we haven't been going along in any kind of fashion that would give us those great leaders. It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. It's going to hurt. But it's now, or when?

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