Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Thursday, March 11, 2004
The Heretic Speaks
Serendipity smiled today. I was doing some work this week at a state building in NE Portland, and this afternoon, just down the hall, Rep. Peter DeFazio held a press conference about the economy. What luck! Naturally, I sidled over.
The economy is always in the eye of the beholder, but perhaps no more so than right now. John Edwards talked about "two Americas" as a metaphor for winners and losers in the Bush economy. But one could easily use it as a metaphor to describe belief systems--religion versus science.
In the religion corner (we're talking metaphor here, remember), we have the pro-"trade" crowd. Here Trade is God: omnipotent, omniscient, beneficent. We reward Trade by shifting all federal dollars to the producers of wealth (if not goods), the theory being that with a modest investment we will get back vast multiples of dollars--money that will benefit us down to the last Wal-Mart associate. Putting federal dollars toward things like social services is folly--how can it ever multiply like Trade? Furthermore, workers are line items on the expense side of the spreadsheet. They are regarded as obstacles to Trade. Reward them not directly, but through the manifold benefits Trade will bestow later on, when we're all wealthy.
On the science side of things are a shadowy and dangerous cabal who appeal to logic. With their pointy, evil heads, they cast away the Faith of Trade and whisper Newton's heresy about actions and reactions. They argue that the economy is a massive Ponzi scheme that will eventually (some say soon!) implode.