Helen of Wasilla
Early one morning I spotted six white herons at the lake near my home, elegant, graceful birds, serene in flight. I went to escape the latest shock and awe of the Bush administration – bulls, bears and pigs on Wall Street, elephants, donkeys and hogs in politics.
It is not only that so many hands are thrust out for U. S. Government dollars while the rest of their bodies and buddies are sipping champagne and eating caviar on our money.
It's not even that the bailout seems more out-of-control than the early days of the Iraq war.
Or even that the New York Fed hired a fox to watch the hen house, ie the recent appointment of the head of risk management at Bear Stearns to the committee that oversees the disbursement of funds.
Or even that companies like AIG don't seem to recognize their greed, let alone their arrogance.
Nor is it that some Americans feel that their way is the only way, that a harem of wives is legitimate while same sex partners are denied their constitutional rights, leaving us with constitutional wrongs.
Or that some multimillionaires are furiously dumping stocks to meet their margin calls, because 150 million dollars wasn't enough to satisfy them. They demanded more, and now the rest of us have to do with less, much less.
Or that the Bush/Cheney doctrine of secrecy (remember “transfer tubes”?) now extends to the bailout. Questions like how much, where, with what oversight and restrictions remain unanswered. (See Caroline Baum's TARP article for more on this topic.)
Or even that Helen of Wasilla shopped at Neiman Marcus with other people's money.
The white herons remind me that nature will survive even if we do not. That there is sanity beyond the greed, belief beyond doctrine, compassion beyond bigotry. That civil rights demands that we be civil to one another. Is it possible, I wonder, that inordinate greed could become an obsolete business model and go the way of the Syquest cartridge and the floppy disk? Will the execs of General Motors ever understand that flying to Washington in the corporate jet to beg for money spells "tilt"? What about Obama: can he design a new model for survival based on cooperation rather than conflict?
So I'm on my way back to the lake to find those herons. I might even see an egret or two while I'm there. And as the Dow plunges, the birds soar and my spirits soar with them. To paraphrase Robert Frost, “I'm looking for calmer waters. You come too.”
(I am the Digital Giraffe and I approve this message.)
c. Corinne Whitaker 2008
One of the best accounts of what happened behind the scenes can be found in "Anatomy of a Meltdown" by John Cassidy of the New Yorker magazine. Eliot Spitzer has also written an excellent article in the Washington Post on the changes needed on Wall Street. For a more pungent comment, turn to "Hank, Let Me Help You Help This Great Country" by Michael Lewis (author of "Liar's Poker") on Bloomberg News. And for an unusual view from the rim of the economic Grand Canyon, read Tom Engelhardt's article on "Casino Capitalism". (Engelhardt is a Teaching Fellow each Spring at the Graduate School of Journalism at U. C. Berkeley.)