In my previous post, I pretty much said everything I could ever say regarding my limited understanding of the financial crisis, so this has a slightly different spin.
The BBC today have carried an interesting quote from the illustrious George Bush:
Mr Bush said at the White House: “We are in an urgent situation and the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act.”
Taken at face value it is quite frightening. But here in our comfortable Ivory-WhyDontYou Tower we have heard this before. Lots of times. On both sides of the Atlantic. About lots of different situations.
For those of you have been bored enough to read high pressure marketing crap, you will recognise some of this. A staple of a scam is the call to urgent action. The sales idea is that by telling you to “Buy now while stocks last” is a great way of over-riding your decision making process. I am sure most people can remember when, idly surfing, you would be confronted with a pop up window saying you were a winner and you only had 10 seconds to click before you lost you wonderful prize.
Now, unusually for Bush, this is slightly more sophisticated. It is very true that we are in an crisis situation. It may even be urgent. However, none of this supports the second half of the statement. Even more crucially, not one part of the statement supports the proposed bill.
If you accept that the situation is urgent and delay will make it worse, you are still left with having to find out what the solution is. Simply doing anything is not the answer. Oddly, this is what the English speaking politicians seem to be crying for. The idea appears to be that doing anything is better than nothing.
Doing something useful is better than nothing. Simply acting is not. In fact, doing the wrong thing can be worse than doing nothing. Bush again:
“We’re facing a choice between action and the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans,” he warned.
“Action” – don’t you just love it? Sounds so dynamic and heroic. In fact it is so masterfully-leaderlike, who cares what the action is! More importantly, who cares what nonsense it is.
The choice is not between action and economic hardship. Even with the bail out plan, economic hardship is in store for millions of Americans – just a different set of millions than the one he wants to protect.
The choice is between a knee-jerk reaction and doing anything in the hope it will work, and trying to discover what will actually work.
Anything else is selling snake oil to the American public. Do people still buy that stuff over there?