It's proving to be a rather quiet, meditative day for me. The weather is definitely feeling more Autumnal. Mrs. Geek and I have taken to carpooling three days a week to help cut down on fuel costs. While I like the fact that our carpooling gets me both to work and home early, a day like today where I can take care of a few chores before I leave for work is most welcome. All that aside, things are rather quiet at work today and I've mostly just been listening to some playlists ("harri3t mix" and "God willing and creek don't rise") and doing what comes my way.
My 10th grade European History teacher was this very unique guy; he was very smart but no dress sense. Some of his suits would make a used car salesman or Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati cringe. He did always emphasize the importance of understanding the past to decipher and lend context to the events of the present. "The long hand of history" was one of his favorite catch phrases.
With so much of the news this week being about financial bailout and other gloom and doom, I've been reading about the very beginnings of the U.S. Department of the Treasury under Alexander Hamilton and Hamilton's First Report on the Public Credit. Reading up on that, I find that everything old truly is new again. To establish a credit history for the new United States government, financially bind the States together, and bind the interests of the propertied classes to the Federal government, Alexander Hamilton proposed that the Federal Government assume all of the country's lingering Revolutionary War debts, sell bonds to cover the debts, and pay interest on the bonds. Some of these debts were foreign, and some were domestic. Some were debts owed by the states (and partially paid off through taxes collected from their citizens), and some were debts owed to individuals -- including bonds and promissory notes that were bought up by speculators from their original holders for 10 cents on the dollar or less. Congress had no problem with paying the foreign debts, but balked at the idea of assuming the domestic debts... for many of the reasons people cite regarding the current bailout plan: it's an egregious expansion of Federal power, it's rewarding greedy speculators, it's turning us into a land of financiers and monied interests. An economic recession occurred when Congress initially said no. In the end, Alexander Hamilton sat down to dinner with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and worked out a compromise: Hamilton would get what he wanted if he agreed to move the capitol of the new nation to the banks of the Potomac in a Southern state, away from the financial interests of New York and Boston. This deal held, and Hamilton got what he wanted. The country prospered as a result, and had a significant credit history when it came time to make the Louisiana Purchase.
Of course, the differences are worth mentioning too. Hamilton's Federalists represented the financial classes who were all for expanding the power of government, because a well-ordered society was good for business. Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans were the "small government" people, talking if not for the "common man", then the "common land-owning farmer". Now we have the Democrats seeking to expand regulation of the economy in order to protect the common citizen, and the Republicans talking "small government" to protect business.
Beyond that, I've been reading about the "mark to market" accounting rule and what this bailout really means. A lot of economists say that the current bailout proposal before Congress is only a stop-gap measure that will probably not fix this crisis for good. It is, however, probably the only thing that can get passed with an election in a month, and we absolutely, positively need to do something now. As Barack Obama said in his speech before Congress last night "this is what we need to do right now to prevent the possibility of a crisis turning into a catastrophe."
on 2008-10-02 at 1:31 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond