More rambling thoughts about the economy and our future

I find it a bit ironic that during the mid-1980’s and ’90’s when businesses and the financial industries clambered for deregulation to allow us to “flourish” and better compete on the world stage, that they now find themselves devastated and on the eve of far greater government scrutiny and control then before deregulation. Government has been complicit. On the whole, have we really flourished? Some have made lots of money, but have even they “flourished,” regardless of the rest of us? When wealth and materialism are equated to “flourishing” in the minds of people, we become lessened, diminished, and made less hole.
In the end, I think, they were coming not from a place of reasoned, philosophical, economic argument, but frankly greed. Yes, competition, but the financial industry wanted to do whatever it wanted to do without accountability or government oversight. “The market will take care of itself,” they might have said.
Well, yes, and now we see it. The problem is that if we really want the market to take care of these kinds of the things then the swings will always be dramatic, the consequences dire. We are seeing the result. Great wealth and great disaster – the problem is that the “lest of these” are always the ones how suffer the most. Government, while not acting judiciously or often wisely, has to step in to avert even greater disaster. Now, the re-regulation or out-right control of the industry will be profound. I wonder, truly, how long it will be before the U.S. will be in the same kind of state as is Iceland?
Coupled with all this is the assertion, which I frankly find as near fact, that greed will not and does not provide for a good foundation upon which to base a sustainable and ethical economy. “Greed” is considered one of the Seven Deadly sins for a reason.
I think that we really are in a new “time,” entering a new “era” of some sort. On the grand scheme of things, there is nothing new under the Sun even if the repeating-of-all-things takes centuries. We are reaping what we have sown – every one of us! Financial, political, social empires always collapse under their own weight and hubris.
I think Bush will be remembered as the President that presided over the downfall of the American Empire. I never wanted Empire, despite on the insistence by the Neo-Con’s that this is exactly what Ameeeericans want or on the politicized Religious Right’s insistence that this country has a divine mandate. It all is akin to the “divine right of Kings,” in a new sort and by new “kings.” I don’t mind if this empire falls (and that does not mean that I do not want to live in a free country; just look at Canada, Switzerland or the Scandinavia countries: free, independent, and economically secure, but not empires).
So, we are in a financial crises, the latest manifestation of our deep cultural problems. We are in an ethical and moral crisis (although not as the Religious Right asserts). Because of the greed of people and the financial industry and the government’s complacency or even their culpability, we find ourselves in this situation. (Yes, I know it is all very complex.) Government steps in when it is too late. We are all worse off.
Is government regulation the answer? No, not necessarily. Is laissez-faire capitalism the answer? No. Social or economic-Darwinism is not the answer, but that is were we are headed. Will we end up in a new form of barbarism? Nothing guarantees that we can remain a civilized people, nationally or world-wide. The Modernist notion of constant, forward-progression of humanity continues to be shown to be unfounded.
All of this does not mean that I or we should not be without hope. I am hopeful, I look forward to the future and come what may. But, my sense of hope does not rest in wealth or poverty, freedom or oppression, weakness or might, self-actualization or defeatism, and whatever else may fit here. As a Christian, my hope does not rest in the Systems-of-this-World. Nothing that I have witnessed or personally experienced leads me to believe that my hope is unfounded or placed in the wrong place. Life may be far more difficult, far more oppressive and I don’t want that, but my hope does not rest is such things. Easy for me to say, I know, in my profoundly privileged American existence.