Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Seven Sharks in the Tank

Well, it’s Friday again already and I still haven’t written about Bill Moyers' Journal. Do you remember Moyers? He’s a Texas reporter who was a press flack for JFK and LBJ. According to Tim Weiner’s Pulitzer-winning “Legacy of Ashes,” Johnson asked Moyers to Chair the “303 Committee” that oversaw CIA covert operations. Moyers wisely declined that post and went on to work for NBC, CBS, and now PBS, where he does a weekly news show Friday nights.

His show last week was about the US economic meltdown and one of his guests was Kevin Phillips, a former Nixon staffer and author with a reputation for predicting the future stemming from his 1969 book “The Emerging Republican Majority.”

Phillips spoke with authority. Actually, he had me when he described Phil Gramm as “appalling.” He called the financial crisis the “denouement of a twenty-five year debt build-up,” and detailed how the US has bailed out the financial sector since the 1980’s, even as it left the manufacturing sector to fail. He said the current crisis will be “on a par with the 1930’s,” predicting a fall of 20-30% in the value of homes with similar losses in our retirement accounts. He decried “consumerism pushed to the Nth degree," and said that “we have never had such polarization of prosperity.”

Phillips said that there is no one answer to this crisis because there is more than one problem, “there are seven sharks in the tank:”

-Financialization (meaning that the business of America is mere accounting tricks)

-Debt buildup (that would be public and private)

-Falling home prices

-Soaring commodity prices

-Flawed economic stats (like when you figure the price of buggy whips into the Consumer Price Index)

-Peak oil (unlike other commodities, oil really becoming scarce)

-Collapsing dollar

Phillips rightly blamed politicians of both parties for our predicament, but he did mention that “McCain has said that he doesn’t know economics, and what he says proves that on a daily basis.”

He did say that he’d been impressed by Obama, because “when I met him, he told me that he’d read my book.”

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