Monday, March 31, 2014

A Personal Economic Manifesto

A brief diatribe summarizing my take on contemporary economic policy in the United States of America (particularly, but my outlook has relevance elsewhere).

As long as we the people are stuck playing on Wall Street, its insiders will always have us by the throat. It does not really matter what their motives are, whether they are philanthropists or misanthropists or psychopaths or sociopaths. People like me will always be invisible ciphers to them, chips to move around in games where the outcome is some profit or goal that is remote from my experience. They cannot relate to me personally, humanly, or humanely--not even if they try. All the courses in good business ethics in the world will not change this. All the bureaucratic red tape in the world will not change it, either. There is simply no substitute for creating a street small enough for the individual to interact with people who see his personality, who respect it because they see it as the peer or mirror of their own integrity.

We don't need to fix the Street. It is irredeemable. We need to walk away and build new Streets (not one Street to rule them all: that is precisely the problem with our economic system as it exists right now; it is too unifocal, too centralized, too big not to smash little players like me to smithereens). The rhetorical dichotomy between Wall Street and Main Street is too neat the way most people conceive it. Main Street is not a unit the way Wall Street is. It is a bunch of incommensurate and incommensurable stuff, an incoherent plurality that resists reduction to monotony. How it looks in one geography is no indication of its appearance elsewhere, and there is no prescriptive blueprint for building it the same way everywhere (to make regular profits for all people on it, implementing the same principles the same way). Saving Main Street is impossible, because no matter what anyone ever does, some Main Streets will die as others live. Wall Street is just the biggest Main Street trying to avoid its own death, unnaturally, by making all other Streets die prematurely so that it can harvest their organs to keep its defunct carcass breathing (barely).

There is no economic recovery because the Street is dead. It already died. It doesn't matter who killed it (Republicans, Democrats, greedy businessmen, bankers, ignorant suckers pouring their money into business they didn't and don't understand, etc.). Passing the guilt, and there is plenty to go around, will not patch Humpty Dumpty or get us moving on toward cleaning up his mess. We need to build new Streets. And we need to consider that each and every one of them will be mortal the way Wall Street was. I want to puke every time I hear people talk about the economy (in the United States of America), only to discover that they conceive that entity as Wall Street and (mehercule!) they have a plan to save it. I don't want to save that sack of shit. I want to drop it like a hot potato, burn it, and never look back (except to remind myself what not to build, what not to carry, what not to care about).

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