What else can you say? I’m 51 years old, and I’ve never volunteered for a candidate before. We’ve canvassed voters two weekends, my wife will work be working the polls on election day, we contributed to Obama’s campaign fund. He has the skills, the message, and importantly can restore the hope and faith of this country. I’m out of town at a conference, and I missed the broadcast version of the Obamercial, but I just watched it on YouTube. It just makes you want to run out and do whatever you can to help actualize the vision…
In this blog, I generally try to avoid talking about controversial things, things were I don’t feel that I can effectively contribute, and things that that just feed the 24×7 news cycle. However, as this political season marches on, I feel that I need to make a statement (to all two or three folks who might stumble across things here). I make no secret that I’m a lifelong democrat, albeit one who’s a believer in globalization, capitalism and the free market ;-). Friedman’s “The World is Flat” should be required reading for every high school student. Heck, I subscribe to The Economist and the Wall Street Journal. I try to be an informed citizen, and try to spend my time reading things that help me understand the political and economic landscape. One of my recent favorites is Alan Greenspan’s biography.
I am discouraged by the tendency of people to want things to be simplified to a short sound bite, to be told what to think without critically examining what and why, and favoring style over substance. Today’s world is an exceedingly complicated place. While it may be satisfying to think that our leaders are just like us, frankly, I want them to be wiser, more reasoned, more thoughtful, more insightful and willing to reevaluate their beliefs when confronted with new information. What’s wrong with waffling? I’ll change my mind if someone presents me with compelling countervailing facts. If I don’t, I’m foolish. Staying with a bad decision because you don’t want to change is not a sound way to run your life or to run the country. Remember what they teach in business school, the concept of “sunk costs?” It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve put into a solution, you have to look forward at revenues and expenses and not be hung up on the financial and emotional capital you’ve put into a project. Running the government is like that, only much bigger and more complicated.
So, here’s my “virtual yard sign” — I unabashedly, enthusiastically and fully support Barack Obama for President and Joe Biden for Vice President. I’m cautiously optimistic about their chances. I think that they can restore the faith in our government and restore the confidence in our country. They are the Change we Need!
PS: Did I mention that I’m a gun-loving liberal? I grew up in Eastern NC, and hunting is a way of life there. I’ve belonged to the NRA for a while now, but I’ve decided that I can’t enjoy the firearms articles in the American Rifleman due to the incredibly myopic, single-issue litmus test politics of the NRA, and I won’t be renewing my membership. The current issue was the final straw.
So, I’m sitting on the deck of the beach house on a wonderfully cool July evening…upper 70’s, nice breeze, low humidity. Listening to Skynyrd on the iPod, piped to the speakers on the deck…Free Bird is on right now; for a southern country boy, that’s good stuff 😉
It’s been a great beach trip so far. Weather is good, crowds are less this year than a typical 4th…maybe the gas prices are having an impact? Actually seemed to be many fewer boats on the water. Have been to Hammocks Beach State Park twice so far, and may go again tomorrow. The beach there is so nice…a 3 mile long island with only the one set of park service structures, and the only way there by ferry or private boat. Took this picture of a live Atlantic Cockle on Sunday…
Great food so far. A wonderful Paella on Saturday, and a Scallop Frittata tonight. RecipeZaar gave it 5 stars and I do too. Tomorrow it’s shrimp & scallops on the grill…can’t wait! Trying to walk enough to burn off the calories!
The Harrier Jets are doing simulated carrier landings tonight over at Bogue Field. Quite a bit of noise when one goes over just a few hundred feet up, but as they say in these parts, it’s the sound of freedom. I’m a liberal, for sure, but I do think that Teddy Roosevelt had it right when he said “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” We’ve had only half of this right for the last 8 years…
Almost time for some shuteye…
One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a while is “The Age of Turbulence.” I’ll confess up front that I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for the seeming stability with which Greenspan ran the Federal Reserve Board, and while I consider myself a political liberal, my undergraduate degree is in business, and I think I absorbed too much capitalism to be an economic liberal. I’d heard that this book was a very readable peek into global finance & economics, and I certainly concur.
Greenspan starts the book with two chapters on his childhood and education, and from there goes into the beginnings of his career as an economist. I think there’s something I related to in his account of his academic years…he left his doctoral studies for his career and life. While I started graduate school after I began my working career and I did finish a Master’s, I left the doctoral program with the coursework behind me before starting a dissertation. The fact that Greenspan finished his PhD in later years gives me hope.
After discussing his schooling and his years at Townsend-Greenspan, he turns to his introduction to politics on the campaign of Richard Nixon, and then his work with and admiration for Gerald Ford. Greenspan went back to private life during the Carter administration, but was tapped for his Federal Reserve post by Reagan.
The book was informative on the workings of the Fed, but the parts I found most fascinating, personally, were the descriptions of the workings of the government and politics and their intersection with the economy. Greenspan was very comfortable with Bill Clinton, and found him not only engaged in and caring about economics, but understanding this and making good decisions. My take-away was that while Clinton indeed presided over the “dot com” boom, that this was not entirely good fortune and serendipity…the economic policies and decisions by the Clinton White House has much to do with this boom in economic history.
We all know the phrase “irrational exuberance” that was uttered by Greenspan in 1996 as the Dow charged ahead. I found it quite interesting to read the context of this and the way those words have become part of the popular culture.
The beginnings of the downturn in 2000 and the change in the presidency was a pivotal time. I found that Greenspan actually didn’t think much of Bush 43, particularly as he insisted on doing what he said vis-a-vis taxes and the economy, rather than adapting to the strategy warranted by the change in economic conditions, and that Bush 43 also did not try to rein in spending and maintain the balanced budget left him by Clinton.
His assessments of the other significant and growing world economies are quite readable and thought-provoking. America cannot be an isolated island. While de Tocqueville rightly attributed much of the early growth and stability of this country to its fortuitous geography, we no longer have that luxury. This is a global world and global economy. Decisions have to be made that are consistent with that framework. Globalization, as Greenspan says, is a positive factor “…all credible evidence indicates that the benefits of globalization far exceed its costs, even beyond the realm of economics.”
We must think about the future, Greenspan says. We have to engage the world, and we have to have an educational system that addresses the need to supply skilled workers to keep competitive and to help address income inequality.
This is an excellent book. Engaging, interesting and well written.
I attended a John Edwards for President rally today in Chapel Hill (my hometown as well as Edwards’). I am particularly enthused by his candidacy, and believe that the things he stands for to be of tremendous importance in solving the problems faced by our country.
- Provide moral leadership in the world
- Strengthen our middle class and end poverty
- Guarantee universal health care for every American
- Lead the fight against global warming
- Get America and other countries off our addiction to oil