Sunday, June 3, 2012

I Yam What I Yam - Or - The Cement of Ideology - Or (most of all) - Thank You Dorothea!

I just finished reading a few entries in this morning's New York Times online. You might think it odd that I read the Times virtually every day and visit the Wall Street Journal only on occasion. The thing is, the former inspires my creative juices like no other publication I've ever read. My only worry is that sooner or later I may have to consider a shot of Botox betwixt my eyebrows. I fear that one-day my forehead muscles will seize up, leaving that incredulous, scowling, frustrated look permanently etched into my face... I fear I'll scare away my grandchildren.

This morning, however, I find myself strangely at peace (perhaps it's the early sun peeking through the kitchen window). After reading good old Paul Krugman explain, once again, that debt doesn't matter if we owe it to each other - and that countries cutting back when they can't make their debt payments is utterly ludicrous and smacks of some conspiracy to destroy the poor - it occurred to me that there's just no changing a mind steeped in ideology.

They (folks like Krugman, those who comment below his articles, and even you perhaps) is what they is, and, in the words of Popeye the Sailor, "I yam what I yam" - and there's no changing them, or me. So why strain my face with such contortions (I'll look like Brutus if this keeps up)? Better to resign to the reality that many well-meaning folks will never come to understand that what I have to say is always 100% factually correct, and that my (unoriginal) ideology is what's absolutely best for this country. It's a crying shame that not everybody can be as flexible and open-minded as me.

So then, while I can punch gaping holes (seriously) in Krugman's assertions, and no doubt will when next in the mood, I don't know that it'd do anything more than confirm a bias for some of my readers, and incite severe face-contorting in others. I do believe however that there is the person out there who hasn't yet allowed the cement of ideology to encase the right hemisphere of his brain. A person who frankly doesn't give a rip, who believes that to get all worked up over stuff that is completely out of his control is tantamount to lunacy - a completely sane person that is. He's, I suppose, the person I'm after.

But you know, it's funny, I honestly don't want that swing-voter to soak his free-thinking brain in merely the stuff that I churn out. I want him reading the Krugman's of the world, I want him asking himself questions (Does it make sense that borrowing doesn't matter if you borrow from your next-door-neighbor or your brother-in-law? Does it make sense that the larger the government, the more the lobbying/corruption?), I want him coming to his own conclusions. And I want a government's policies to reflect the fiscal values of the majority of its citizens, even when I'm in the minority. Obama is president because he was elected, by the people, to that post; like it or not, that's how it works in a free country. If his policies have turned out to be anathema to the fiscal values of [the majority of] Americans, he won't win a second-term. If his policies are favorable to the American-at-large, or if the jury's still out, we'll likely have four more years to see if our thinking is indeed healthy, or to come to a different way of thinking.

In the end, whether President Obama's political career has more to run, or we turn the helm over to the gentleman from the other side of the ideological tracks, you and I will do just fine. You see the office of the president, while important, is not what ultimately turns this great big tiny world of ours (okay, maybe it tilts it a little).

Last Thursday my wife and I attended the funeral of a long-time client and friend*. While reminiscing on the times I visited Dorothea's husband Harry at his office back in the mid-80s, it occurred to me just how much has happened since those early days of my career; those days when I'd travel to Timbuktu (well, let's say Taft) just to sit with a prospective client. And how the crash of October '87, along with all the sovereign currency crises, all the bear markets and all the natural, and unnatural, disasters seemed so dire as they occurred - yet they remain, save for the most recent recession, but faint recollections. And make no mistake, we will one-day look back on the crises du jour, and say "hey, you remember when?"

*Honoring the life of a friend puts this world in perspective like nothing else can: Thank you Dorothea for the life you lived. For the memories your family shared at your celebration. You have truly inspired others to live lives of integrity, hard work, commitment and, above all, love. You did your job exceedingly well my dear!! You are the morning sun shining through the kitchen window.

I'll close here with day one of my soon to be published 31-day daily devotional on free-market thinking... If you're of my, or an earlier generation, you'll surely relate...

DAY 1: The Good Old Days

When I look to the future I get very nervous, but when I look to the past I feel pretty good.

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