Persistent Pooh Bahs of Positivism 

   Ever since Vice President Spiro Agnew called me a "Nattering Nabob of Negativism" I have wrestled with the problem of commenting on political and economic events without sounding excessively negative.  Agnew wasn't picking on me, directly.  He painted news media in general with that label.

   For years I have been a proponent of honest money, efficient government, and individual responsibility.  This is negative, of course, to the majority of Americans who prefer money of constantly depreciating worth, over-blown inefficient government, and higher taxes.  Pointing out that a dollar today buys only a fraction of what it did thirty years ago is a "negative" observation because it suggests that the U.S. dollar is unreliable.  To say the dollar is doomed will bring calls for one's head as a critic who is not only negative but unpatriotic as well.

   I don't think negativism should be confused with realism.  The realist makes his way through life observing things as they are, not as overly ambitious academics or other social engineers imagine they ought to be.  The realist may agree that improvements should be encouraged, but he is not apt to want to impoverish his neighbors to achieve it. Saying that the nation is over-extended is fact, not negativism.  So, why paste a "Doomsayer" poster on the back of the individual who merely remarks on what he sees?

   The Persistent Poo Bahs of Positivism get the standing ovations.  When Larry Kudlow puts the positive spin on economic news his Wall Street friends applaud him.  Why shouldn't they?  Their livelihoods depend on the credit bubbles staying aloft and the Federal Reserve keeping the money spigot open as far as possible.  When Kudlow shouts, "Long live the Bull Market!" cheers ricochet from the tall buildings of Manhattan.  

   Meanwhile, we realists wait for more shoes to drop among financial institutions.  We know they're coming because no credit bubble in history has not corrected.  "All debts are paid...either by the creditor or the debtor" comes to mind.  Is that negative? Is being required to pay one's debt wrong?  We think it's just good sense to notice when storm clouds approach, and have a sturdy umbrella at the ready.   

   The explosive Jim Cramer is horrified at the possibility the stock market could crash.  He believes the government, the Fed, and all of us should keep that from happening.  He and his Wall Street cronies don't want their businesses threatened.  Who can blame them?  

   So, the Poo Bahs of Positivism, including the Treasury Secretary, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the President of the United States, and several members of Congress break out the pom poms and assure us that the economy is a trifle slack at the moment but improvements are on the way.  

   As patriarch of a large family working hard to keep its nose above water I'd love to see a swift transition back into a thriving economy.  Booms are fun.  They kindle excitement and hope.  But I keep looking over my shoulder at that mountain of government and private debt that is a severe drag on economic development  and wonder how hard and how long the correction will be. 

   That's not a negative attitude.  It's just an old-fashioned realistic one. 

       June25th, 2008

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A Wistful Vista
An Unknown Road
Vern's Precipitation
Resurrecting a New Deal

Blood In the Streets
How To Buy Gold
Natalie's Predicament
America Descending
Just Plain Stealing?
A thing to fear
Unstuffing a Lifetime
Heavenly Sex
FDR & History
The Chicken Little Convention   

Mr. Bolton's Predators
And Lead us not into temptation
My Obituary
The Legislature and Embryos
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive
What Fools, We Mortals
Unvarnished Truth
End-of-everything Blues
My Immigrant Relative
The Eloquent Pogo
Nesta's Complaint
Unionize School Children
Hucksterism Gone Wild
Unmanageable Religious Violence