American Elephants


There’s a Lot of Misguided Thinking Going On Here! by The Elephant's Child
July 18, 2011, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, History, Humor, Liberalism, Literature | Tags: , ,

There is a disturbing tendency among many towards straight-line thinking.  If the stock market is down today, it will only be down more tomorrow and we’re all doomed.  I just saw an article claiming that a house is no longer a good investment now or in the foreseeable future.

A bad food crop means world starvation and a slight warming trend means catastrophic global warming. Peak oil falls into the same category. This only seems to work with negative events. Nobody seizes upon a wonderful day and writes about it’s being the harbinger of constant wonderful days. Is it just a gloomy disposition?

President Obama has been insistent upon comparing his recession to the Great Depression.  Whether that’s because he wants to be compared to FDR, or wants people to understand the terrors he faces, I don’t know. The actual recession is far less serious than the Great Depression, and has only been made worse by administration ineptness, and adherence to discredited economic policies.

Then there is the problem of confusing cause and effect. The New York Times’ David Leonhardt goes off on the real culprit — consumer spending.  Discretionary spending on restaurant meals, entertainment, education and insurance is down in this slump almost 7 percent, when it’s never fallen before more than 3 percent per capita. It’s all the consumers’ fault.

I have been rereading a wonderful essay by Tom Wolfe from the 1970s — Radical Chic which describes the courting of romantic radicals like the Black Panthers, striking grapeworkers and the Young Lords by New York’s socially elite.  He focuses particularly on one symbolic event: the gathering of the radically chic at Leonard Bernstein’s Park Avenue apartment to meet spokesmen of the Black Panther Party, to hear them out and talk over ways of aiding their cause.  The players and the event have changed, but the strange phenomenon continues.

You had Jane Fonda celebrating the brave Viet Cong peasants, and heroin chic in which fashion decreed that the in look was that of an addict on the street.   Everybody is wearing Sadat’s keffiyeh, We have torn jeans, worn-out jeans, clothes that look that they came from your grandmother’s ragbag.

Destroyed cotton t-shirt , Balmain, $1,624, collection at Jeffrey, NYC.  Canvas shorts, Bottega Veneta $590.  Shell earrings, Celestina, $780.  Webbing Belt, Burberry $325.  Ribbon ID bracelets, Mianstal $120 each. The Look : total cost $3,559 (plus tax).     (Photo and prices from American Digest)
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Diversity reigns on the nation’s campuses, which oddly seems to mean only color of skin and ethnicity — which are only the most diverse things about a person according to those who are deeply fixated on race.  The rest of us think that two people of whatever color and ethnicity who are both Army brats probably have a lot more in common than two people who happen to come from different parts of Africa.  A couple of young moms who had their babies on the same day in the same hospital probably care more about that fact that about the difference in the color of their babies.

I don’t venture to connect all the dots, nor to pose some philosophic truth. I’m just noticing that there’s a lot of fuzzy thinking going on.

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