We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Is there a post-Protestant Ethic, post-Consumption & Hedonism Ethic of Capitalism? I suspect this book review from Spiked is more interesting that the book itself. A quote:
Barber argues that the new ethic of capitalism is one of ‘infantilisation’: money today is to be made in maintaining adults as needy children, who stuff down dumbed-down films, saccharine food and video games. While in the early stages of capitalism it benefited the capitalist system for everybody to save their pennies, now it benefits the system for us to splurge every penny and borrow more. While in the time of Franklin people were encouraged to restrain themselves and reinvest, now, says Barber, we are encouraged to act on every immediate whim, to be the grasping child in a sweet shop unable to say no.
Apparently I am way out of date, as usual, because I still operate on the Ben Franklin model, more or less.
Steve Carell, who is the boss Michael Scott on The Office, says smart people…
“Engage in Reading-Type Behavior
If we were meant to read for enjoyment, would God have created television? Read as it was intended — for exercise. The more you read, the more you expand your — what's the word I'm looking for? — your stockpile of words. You must have a stockpile of words that you can pass along to your children for their stockpile.”
Also, Think even Franklin would say it is ok to splurge sometimes, especially on good wellies. Stumbled on this from NJ’s link to Tim Blair.
[i] “It took from 1914 until November 2007 for the Federal Reserve to accumulate $800 billion worth of Treasury debt. It has taken from December 17 to the end of April for the Fed to divest itself of $260 billion of this portfolio, a decrease of one-third. In its place, it has placed AAA-rated mortgages. At the current swap rate, the Federal Reserve System will be out of Treasury debt in December of 2008. But by adding car loans to the list of eligible paper, the Fed will most likely greatly accelerate this.” [i]
- Economist Gary North
To the average person this is gibberish. Perhaps this is why the Fed is able to do what it's doing: slowly nationalize the banking system. The stabilization that everyone is giddy about has its cost. The private market, with the encouragement of the Federal Reserve, has manufactured vast debt that cannot be repaid. Banks used up their capital long ago, so the Fed has to take those bad loans away from them and give them capital back.
Stabilization is not a working banking system. When you hear all the CEOs of Wall-Street say the crisis is nearing an end, it has no implication for a working banking system that will create more credit.
The Fed adds a new twist everyday. Now it's going to pay interest on reserves banks must keep at the Fed. This will allow the Fed to expand its balance sheet even more and buy even more bad loans from banks. Again, this isn't a positive: It illustrates just how bad things are.
By the way, it's the U.S. taxpayer that will be picking up a good portion of this interest they will now pay to banks.
Chairman Ben Bernanke has been given high marks for saving the system. But just what are we saving? The average person does not understand that what they are really saving is the bankers and Wall Street at the expense of the middle-class standard of living. A devalued dollar of 50% hurts the middle class much more than a 50% decline in the stock market. Why not let a failed system fail, thus re-distributing savings and income back to the middle class? Of course, everyone will suffer but in the long run that will happen anyway and saving the system will disproportionally hurt the middle class more.
The system is broken. Every action by the Fed says so. Those that anticipate a shallow recession still do not understand this. The credit crunch has barely begun affecting the real economy. We're in the very early stages of this process and the government wants to boil the proverbial toad (the middle class) as slowly as possible.