September 25th, 2008

Questions and an analogy.

My previous post elicited some answers to questions I wasn't asking, e.g., "should we avoid a financial meltdown" or "what happens if the financial system melts down". One could debate those, but I'm not.

The questions which I think need to be answered are:

Are we in danger of a financial meltdown? (and how quickly will it happen?)

What do we do about it? (and is this proposed plan the right one to fix the problem?)

It's as if we're on a ship, and a crew member discovers there's water in the bilge. Crewmembers point at the water and saying if the ship sinks we'll all drown. They keep talking about all the awful things that will happen if the ship sinks (sharks, drowning, exposure), and tout this great idea of plugging a hole in the hull with a big ball of money which they're going to collect from the passengers.

When we ask if maybe the hole might be patched with something else, or if it's small enough that maybe the pumps will work, or the watertight doors can be closed to keep the rest of the ship from filling up with water, or even if the water didn't splash in in heavy seas...they go back to talking about the sharks. Moreover, it wasn't that long ago that the captain claimed there wasn't any hole in the hull at all.

It's up to the people who want our money to convince us that using that big ball of money to plug this hole in the hull is the right idea.

Polling conversations.

One of the fun things about porting my parents' old landline number is I get polled. There was one recent poll, which seemed legitimate (i.e., not a push poll) about a state senate race. I knew nothing and said so.

The most recent one identified itself as the "Republican Majority Coalition".

Interviewer: "If the election were held today, who would you be voting for? John McCain, the Republican, or Barack Obama, the Democrat."
Me: "Neither."
Interviewer: "So, you're undecided?"
Me: "Actually, I'm waiting to see if Bob Barr gets on the ballot here."
Interviewer: (slight chuckle) "I think a lot of people are going to be looking at that as an alternative this year. Thank you for your time."

I don't think that one was particularly legit. But it's fun to get them to check other boxes on their form.