While Gotham City Goes Bust


Is the smell of RECESSION in the air?

Could the nation’s financial sector be ON THE ROPES?

Are our political candidates taking WALL STREET’S GURGLING as a green light?

Irritated intellectual types debate the underlying issues!

All day, everyday, for the foreseeable future!

Same bat time!

Same bat channel!

The guy who did the voiceover for the television show Batman had a voice that was more familiar to me than Walter Cronkite. There was something in that campy, over the top delivery style that appealed to my five year old self, and helped set the stage for the logic-defying feats and the ridiculously stilted dialogue that Batman and Robin, the Dynamic Duo, were going to perform over the next thirty minutes.

Thirty five years later, I’ve got my own VIP Waterford Kool-Aid pitcher from the Obama campaign, but even us Kool-Aid drinkers have to draw the line somewhere with our candidate. Obama’s broad generalizations that the state of our economy stems from specific incidents perpetrated by the Republican Party is a waste of time. He and his advisors have more than enough brain power to evaluate each and every incident of financial malfeasance on its own merits. And Obama’s smart enough to know how interdependent all the parts of our economy are on each other and the rest of the world.

    Commissioner Gordon: "Batman, you unscrambled that safe's combination in five seconds flat! How did you do it?"
    Batman: "With my Bat-Five-Seconds-Flat-Combination-Unscrambler, Commissioner."

So what am really I saying here? Is it time for Commissioner Gordon to shine the Bat Signal into the sky? If the Dow loses another 1000 points this week you'll be alright, even if all of your retirement savings are tied up in your 401(k). The weaknesses of our financial sector that is being reflected in the value of the stocks that make up the Dow index aren’t the real problem. The bulge of supply in our economy, like the bulge in the belly of a boa constrictor that has eaten too much, cannot be legislated away. Like the snake, the country will be lethargic and glassy eyed for awhile, until we digest what has been one of the biggest feasts in American financial history.

George Soros has made most of his fortune following a reflexive theory he has termed "boom/bust", that basically says that all systems are usually NOT in a state of equilibrium - they are usually teetering between one extreme or the other. Batman might have been able to subdue The Penguin or The Riddler in half an hour, but reversing this economic trend immediately is impossible, no matter what the candidates promise.

The only positive I can see out of all of this, from a political standpoint, is that it makes the population and our governing bodies more amenable to trying out things they never would have agreed to when they weren't in need. Do you really think half the stuff Roosevelt enacted would have been politically viable if we weren’t hurting so bad in the Thirties?

    Robin: "Gosh, there could be diplomatic repercussions if we fail this time, Batman."
    Batman: "That's not the point, Robin. What's important is that the world know that all visitors to these teeming shores are safe, be they peasant or king."
    Robin: "Gee, Batman, I never thought of that. You're right."
    Batman: "It's the very essence of our democracy."

Truth is always relative to your perspective. Jingoism often allows us to suspend our deductive powers of reasoning. Sound, reasoned critical thinking seems to have be on the endangered species list. TV sound bites, ultra extremist ideologies, and the need for "microwave" solutions have contributed to their rapid demise.

Whether we want to pull out of Iraq in the next 72 hours, or have a slew of the corporate terrorists who run Wall Street strung up by their toes by nightfall, we are going to have to sacrifice SOMETHING – something big and something long term - to achieve our stated goal of economic equilibrium. Self-righteousness might be the first thing on the list. In either case, the outcome is going to be ugly and bloody.

    Batman: "Nobody wants war."
    Robin: "Gee, Batman. Belgravia's such a small country. We'd beat them in a few hours."
    Batman: "Yes, and then we'd have to support them for years."

The proletariat (yeah, I’m talking about you, me, and the other 99% of the population, in case you are thinking “who, me?” as you read this) always has been and always will be abused.

Consumption of all kinds - food, fine cars, consumer goods, and bigger and bigger houses, for those of you who don’t watch cable TV - is the American way. Our entire economy, and the corporate success that is derived from it, is based on the masses (us) buying more and more of this type of stuff. I can't think of any society in history that has been able to peacefully make such a radical adjustment its learned habits, especially those that play such an important role in its corporate citizen's financial lives.

High minded ideals have been spouted by leaders since the beginning of time, but it is often those same men whose lives contradict many of the principles they purport to espouse.

    Batman: "That's one trouble with dual identities, Robin. Dual responsibilities."

Personally, I would be happy doing without a lot of the things I now enjoy, but its the consequences of the “doing without” kinds of changes in what the masses (us) see as the natural order of things that I believe my fellow citizens are most afraid of, even as we say are unhappy with the status quo.

In the meantime, to the Batmobile!

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