I'm spending the next week in Georgia and the Carolinas.
It's a work related trip to take care of some problems with one of our customers.
Listening to right wing AM radio stations and left wing NPR, you would guess that the sky was falling, people were throwing themselves out windows, and four horsemen were spotted riding toward Bethlehem to see what rough beast was slouching over to be born.
But guess what I'm seeing?
Interstate highway traffic is rolling along nicely. Restaurants are full. Fuel prices are dropping. People seem to be in a good mood, despite the recent looting of The Treasury by the people whose gambling losses you just covered.
NPR this morning featured a conversation between William Greider and some other economist (Kevin somebody?) on the virtue and flaws of Free Market Capitalism. They agreed that Free Market Capitalism could be defined as the free exchange of goods and services between individuals with minimal government interference.
Here's what I don't understand about the link people are trying to make between our current difficulties and Free Market Capitalism....
The government has encouraged, if not insisted, that various institutions give home loans to people who ordinarily wouldn't qualify for them. The government has implicitly and explicitly guaranteed loans AND INVESTMENTS that no one in their right mind would underwrite with their own money. And due to the upcoming retirement of a jillion baby-boomers, there will soon be more government mandated claims against the dollar than there are against asbestos manufacturers. The government has now run up the national debt to 10 trillion dollars. They'll soon be printing money like it was toilet paper, and it will soon have a similar value.
All of the pipers are lining up to be paid.
What, exactly, does this have to do with failures of Free Market Capitalism? Can anyone tell me?
My companion on this trip is Damon, our Director of Human Resources. His political opinions on economic freedom are pretty much in line with mine.
His opinions on music....well, that's another story. Damon has an iPod that features pop, rock, and metal from 1981-1986. I've heard lots and lots and lots of Journey, Styx, Foreigner, Van Halen (pre Sammy Hagar) and, God Help Us All.....Huey Lewis And The News.
If it were my iPod, it wouldn't contain any of that overproduced crap. The perfect music for this trip would be Bob Dylan, Charlie Robison, Chris Knight, Rodney Crowell, The Marshall Tucker Band, Neil Young, and a sprinkling of Skynyrd.
Which one of us is right?
Both of us. I should decide for me. And He should be allowed to decide for himself, regardless of the damage he is doing to his moral character by continuing to listen to Journey so much. After all, it's his iPod. Since we're sharing the same Ford F-250, whoever is driving controls the music. We worked that out on our own, no help from Bush, Pelosi, Reid, or the Supreme Court required.
Who should decide how much House you can afford?
You. And anyone willing to lend you the money for it.
Who should decide how much you should be allowed to bet on the housing market, the stock market, or any other variation on a Blackjack table?
And as long as both parties in our agreements are honoring their obligations, how much government involvement do we need in the contents of our iPods, the purchase of our homes, or any other decisions we make?
A lot less than some people think we need.
p.s. - when I get home, I might buy the Journey Live CD.