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10/13/01

VIEW FROM THE MOUNT

Sober Thought Provoking Essays
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and the TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE . . .

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Making capitalism out of socialism is like making eggs out of an omelet.
Vadim Bakatin

The Harsh Economic Costs of 911

I got friends in high places !
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Too bad you don't . . .

Now that the task of recovery has begun in earnest, we need to evaluate the after effects of the earth shattering massacre. With estimates well over 100 Billion Dollars for New York City alone, we are in store for some major realignments in the national economy. The federal government will subsidize and grant a large portion of these funds. Coming out of our pockets is nothing new for most of us. But the underlying changes to the functions of the Capitalistic order, may well be much more significant in the long run.

First it needs to be noted that the economic system that now goes under the 'so called' title of Capitalism, no longer conforms to even an expanded definition of Free Enterprise. The reality of economic life in the United States can best be understood as an alliance of the Corporations/MoneyInterest/Government Axis. The central structures that serve as the positional referent, is the nature of this axis. The beneficiaries of this confederation are owners, managers, employees, investment bankers, security brokers, speculators, investors, politicians, bureaucrats, judges and lawyers. Their degrees of benefit are not equal, but each has a vestige interest in protecting the functions of the present 'status quo'. Resistance to meaningful reform or fundamental realignment is at the core of most policy decisions.

The American public was roused from their long narcolepsy, and has awakened to risks that were seldom considered. Agreement that we will rebuild is virtually unanimous. Dislocations and fall out to the national economy has spread with the speed of email. Resolve has been stiffened for the work that lies ahead. But the consequences and alterations to the comfortable mechanisms of commerce have not received much attention.

Since the beginning of the bust in the equity bubble, came on the day that the DoJ filed their antitrust charges against Microsoft, we have been experiencing a bear market. Let no one underestimate the coming role of federal authorities in the 'new economy' that will emerge from the debris of the World Trade Complex. Targets for terror were American symbols. Likewise icons of 'The Deal', will play a pivotal role in their alliance with the AXIS. During the go-go 90's the Trump name dominated the New York vista. From every vantage point the message went out: the sky is the only limit! For the common man, the inspiration that enterprise could achieve monuments to excess, became an apparition that many dreamt. Few could reach, but all could believe . . .

The reality of this fiction was much different. The expansion of central authority and control over the economy is now on a pace that will rival the collapse of the Twin Towers. The direct causalities of the rebuilding process will be small business, the entrepreneur and the hired help. Corporate America will receive the major share of business, and in the process will sever their remaining higher paid employees. Loyal and experienced personnel will be pushed aside for youth that will work for half the cost. Functions formally considered as automatic, will fail. Services that were once rudimentary will become optional. Business practices that are essential for success, will go undone. Problems that require solutions will be multiplied with new ones, stemming from incompetent staff. The products for growth, will be ineptitude.

Couple this with the added involvement of government programs and you will have all the ingredients for a 'social democracy' economy, EU style. Minimum wage jobs will not be an entry level, but a way of subsistence existence. Instead of releasing the genius of American ingenuity, government will increase their role over every aspect of enterprise. The work will become, a government contract. The banks will get a guaranteed repayment, the unions will get federal and state work, the bureaucrats will get their intrusion authority and the tax payer will be sent another bill.

As long as this Corporate/Money/State Axis is allowed to make all the rules, our economic lives are not our own. One example illustrates the absurdity of the current practices of the capital markets. Options, Futures and Selling Short a stock you do not own is shear lunacy. There is no redeeming economic value for any of these practices. Markets need to exist to raise new capital for meaningful economic ventures. Its other purpose is to allow the investor to buy equities and to sell from their portfolio. The present perversion of valid market purpose, is NOT CAPITALISM. Free enterprise has been extinguished, and with it our LIBERTY.

Attention paid to the anthrax scare needs to be focused on Amtrak. The economy is the engine of achieving the 'Idea of American'. Fix the train service, return it to private ownership, and we will have an option for independent travel. Bail outs for poorly run airlines only compound the problem. Polaroid was the Microsoft of the 60's. It has gone into chapter 11. So should go, other parts of the AXIS. The global economy has destroyed the opportunities of the public to be in change of their own economic destiny. Security is not found in a 401 K, mutual funds or an IRA. Independence in not achieved in managed accounts. The solution is to create a 'Main Street' economy, and reign in the 'Wall Street' casino, a game that only benefits 'masters of the universe' elites.

The 'Donald' is no Henry Ford! Nor is he a Howard Roark. He is more like a Gail Wynand in the Fountainhead in Ayn Rand's novel, from a different era. No longer is the path to wealth and power, a journey of risk and wits. It has become a courtship of AXIS relations with the intent of marrying into the family. Trump represents the fruits of 'The Bailout', more that the 'Art of the Deal'. So will be the course for the recovery of NYC.

An emergency call was made to 911, on that date. But the response team for our ailing economy does not have the EMS skills of those who rescued the injured from the scene of the disaster. Congress rushes to flood money on a problem that begs for fundamental reform. The swell from this hurricane will not abate with more central planning and control. The tides will return to normal, when nature re-establishes her dominance over reality. The AXIS is man's failed attempt to alter the character of the universe. People need to be Free and that includes economic opportunities. Guaranties are left to the realm of the divine. At first light, it seems that this distinction has still not been learned.

SARTRE - October 13, 2001

The far right seeks to retain the material progress of American capitalism while removing some of its crucial causes and consequences - as though a bridge could be made to change part of its function by blowing up part of its supports and part of its exit.

Ronald Segal

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