Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm Talking the Spanish Inquisition

Fr. Frank leads nicely today with the failure of account- ability, the failure of outrage for widespread federal mismanagement, and the absence of signs that the Bush nexus will be brought to justice. Since regular folks have only the law - no power, that is - this suggests that Obaman government will not be more responsive to the majority.

We need more than a figurehead. We need the bourgeois virtues of accounting and accountability.

We need a process, and mass support for investigation, explication, storytelling, and convicting - the great procedures of democratic process and crime fiction alike. As people like Joseph Stiglitz add up the Bush bill, the numbers are big enough to crush all recovery activities - if payback and just sourcing of funds doesn't start happening fast. We need inquests and investigations. We need the Spanish Inquisition.

One of Fr. Frank's links pointed me belatedly to the work of Eric Janszen, who has a good piece in this month's Harpers on the "next bubble," which includes a lot about our recent bubbles. Even more importantly, Janszen was as ahead of the curve on toxic assets and hedge-fund problems as Dean Baker was about the housing bubble. See his "Myth of the Slow Crash" from June 2006, which has some tasty charts about the Great Depression. It's true that the professional discussions are not as far behind as the public debate - see then Fed governor Ben Bernanke - now Federal Reserve chair - talking in 2002 about deflation after the housing bubble, as Greenspan was still priming it. But that's the point. The public is cut out until everything is decided.

Nothing will change until the investigation creates both answerability and a full tilt public debate.

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