Friday, July 8, 2005

Decadence, corruption and decay

Salt Lake Tribune - Opinion: "Silverstein details the ballooning of the practice called ''earmarks'' in the federal budget. As it is true of much of what is wrong with our politics, the practice is not new - pork barrel politics has a venerable history - but it is spiraling out of control. The same thing has happened with gerrymandering, also an ancient practice, and campaign contributions. They've always been part of politics, it's just that now they are so much more so. Indeed, what have been just deplorable flaws in our system are now eating the whole system - the flaws are getting bigger than the functioning, with the result that serving the public interest is rapidly disappearing. "

Whether connected to the prospect of a cleansing storm or not, an alternative vision of the trends facing the political culture is one in increasing corruption, corruption, which is eating away the foundation, hollowing out the institutions of American life.

Here's Billmon noticing the decline of pundritry:

Whiskey Bar: Forever Blowing Bubbles: "There is no doubt in my mind that the existence -- and seeming indestructibility -- of 'analysts' like Jim Glassman is one of the key reasons why we have asset bubbles. Since the collapse of the Nasdaq bubble in early 2000, I've watched, first with amazement, then with a kind of morbid fascination, as Glassman has continued his flourishing and no doubt lucrative career as a financial pundit and supply-side snake-oil salesman, instead of being banished to the get-rich-quick infomercials on late night cable, which is where he belongs.

"Perhaps if the collapse of his Dow 36,000 theory had done more lasting damage -- if we had breadlines and soup kitchens instead of a booming real estate market -- Glassman would have gotten his just rewards: universal ridicule and a well thumbed page in the history book of error, like poor professor Irwin Fisher, who never lived down his pronouncement, just days before the '29 crash, that stocks had reached a 'permanently high plateau.'

"Or maybe not. Glassman is a product of the closed loop of modern punditry, in which career success has absolutely nothing to do with being right about anything, and everything to do with being ideologically au courant and politically well connected. In other words, Glassman is to the financial markets what Charles Krauthammer is to Iraq -- a symbol of the triumph of a consensus fantasy over a subversive reality."

Billmon extends his thought, by reflecting on a gathering of rich people, to contemplate "ideas.":

Billmon: "If you want supporting evidence for my thesis that the American 'marketplace of ideas' is in an advanced state of decay, you could do worse than read some of Liquid List's posts from the Aspen Institute's 'Festival of Ideas' conference."

If I had some links available, I would link to people contemplating the decline of corporate America, where once great organizations have been stripped of their expertise and worn to a frazzle. The collapse of Enron and the debacles at WorldCom, Adelphia, Tyco, and the rest, are merely symptoms of the greed and incompetence, cases, where things got so bad that they became actually felonious. Much of the rest of corporate America is teetering on the edge of the precipice, because of decades of bad leadership and budgets tightened to send the bonuses due to top management into the stratosphere.

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