Monday, November 25, 2013
While lying on my bed reading D.H. Lawrence's, "The Rainbow", in a position that was more in line with keeping the maximum of light on the page as opposed to comfort, as I feel that as long as natural light is available, it's best to delay putting on the electric, not only because the light, I believe, is easier on the eyes, but because, if the billions of other people in the world practiced just this modicum of discipline, then the tons of CO2 pouring into the atmosphere would be that much reduced, I looked out the window to observe two trees that stood against the darkening sky.
There was a light wind blowing, but from the motion of the taller, wispier-branched tree, you would have thought a gale was blowing. Right next to it the heavy dense stolid branches of a cypress pine barely moved as the scattered delicate twigs of the other tree whip-sawed around in what looked to be a frenzy of excitement.
As I gazed at this strange juxtaposition, it occurred to me that there was an analogy there. Because the stoic tree was a gymnosperm while the lithe, taller tree was an angiosperm. In the gymnosperm family are included both conifers and ginkgoes, both ancient, as the ginkgoes, for example, co-existed with the dinosaurs, whereas the Angiosperms are more recent, and includes all the flowering plants, many of which have not only adapted to the presence of motile animal life, but actively uses it for their propagation and dissemination of their seeds.
What this reminded me of was the opposing forces of liberalism and conservatism. The rock of tradition and ancient ways of doing things being constantly whipped by the winds of change, yet stands solid and firm while the liberality of seed production amongst the angiosperms gives life more divers way of taking advantage of every nook in the environment that is capable of sustaining life.
In this, nature's scenario, there isn't a pitched battle of who wins and then takes all, but a constant ebb and flow as conditions become more set, the old ways settle down into a pattern, as the conditions become more volatile, it is the fleet of foot and the quick to adapt that rule the day.
This is analogous to the economic forces either at the Fed represented by inflation hawks and doves, in the Congress by fiscal liberals and conservatives, or internationally, by German austerity and Keynesian demand-stimulating deficit-spending advocates. All of whom clamor for the same thing: a recovery.
But much of the recovery programs sound just like the similarly named drug and alcohol detox clinics called Recovery Houses, that have become a cottage industry in Southern California's sun-besotted southlands. They even use much of the same lingo and have the same problems with balancing survival of the patient with using measures that are enabling to the bad habits that got them strung out in the first place.
Just as me and other bloggers, journalists, and even Congressmen can advocate one solution or another, cold turkey , for example, allowing deflation to go its course so as to put an end to the malinvestment that's throwing good dollars after bad, wasting all the productivity of an entire hyper-energy-consuming economy by pouring them into investments that are not only deleterious in the short run, albeit stimulative of a deadened demand (if surrounded be sea water, a thirsty man may drink of it though fully knowing it will eventually kill him), but can only lead to collapse in the long run. Contrarily, Keynesians may be correct that infrastucture investment is vital, but with global warming all but certainly caused by the pouring of millions of tons of CO2 at an accelerating rate into the atmosphere, perhaps taking all the earnings of the future and putting them into road construction and repair, facilitating the very bane that's responsible for the overheating of the troposphere in the first place, isn't the way to recovery, but, as in any addiction, is merely building a road to perdition and leaving no resources left with which to change course. Or, in the language of addiction, enabling that very activity which is killing the patient.
However, what Bernanke has to deal with that his critics don't, is keeping the patient alive. So while the friends of a drug-addicted person may easily counsel the parents to let their child "hit bottom", and that may in fact be the only way for them to turn their life around, the fact of the matter is that that particular cure has been known to kill many of the patients it's used on. So, great! The cure worked, but the patient died. Thus with austerity. We can start anew and have a spanking new economy that responds more directly to demand in the economy to stimulate the formation of businesses that more efficiently respond to that demand, but what if half of the citizenry has dropped dead from starvation or lack of health care in the meantime? We armchair critics need not worry if our ideas would leave half the population toast, but the Bernank does.
So, as it seems, as evidenced by the two trees bearing their loads in the same winds with completely different responses, yet coexisting, we need to address the problem of what caused our economies to fail so massively and to recover so limply. To allow those forces that stand for conservation look into themselves and see that, like the beetle eating its way through the conifer forests of the American West, there is a sickness burrowing at their innards leaving a seemingly strong husk on the outside, but hollowing it out to a diseased center that must be stopped if survival is to be expected.
The thin tree represents those forces for change beating against the staid facade of the cypress, in full knowledge of the rot that's going on within. Those whipping branches remind me of the cry for revolution so glibly being thrown about even as we see the insanity of such a path tear Syria to pieces and spill over into the surrounding countries. Is that really what we want? Have we really reached such a point that the only solution we can come up with is dissolution? Where we think it's more expedient to rave about murdering one another (because that's what revolution means), than talking to one another?
Like the parents of the drug addict, both of the solutions for recovery, whether austerity or permissiveness, threatens to kill the patient because we have decided to impose those solutions onto the sufferer without bothering to delve into the reasons our child (as the economy is a living entity too), succumbed to addiction and drug abuse in the first place. The reason for avoiding such an obvious path is that what such investigation must reveal is that the fault, dear Brutus, lies not with the stars, but with ourselves. We all have pet beliefs and comfie lives we don't wish to see disturbed or inconvenienced, never mind uprooted and destroyed, simply because the decisions we've made over the last generations have been destructive on a scale unknown to any extant form of life on the planet.
But if we don't get serious about confronting our demons, they will consume us, and the resultant hell we are left to live in will be no less horrific simply because it was one of our own making.
Posted by Robert Lowrey at 5:11 PM