Was it so Great?

President Obama has gotten his first bill through, an $825B package of tax breaks, local government aid, and unemployment extensions.  They call it an “Economic Recovery” bill because the term “Stimulus” is a bit passé now.  What’s clear about it, however, is that this bill is designed to do little more than avoid Depression and turn it into an ordinary Recession, no matter what they call it.

What’s in a name?  A little, and a lot.

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In the city of Saint Paul, there are 2200 plus vacant homes, and the inspection staff at the city agree that they are probably counting about half of the total.  That means about 4% of the units are vacant in the City overall, and a lot more expected to hit foreclosure.  As bad as this is, I’m quite sure that Saint Paul has a better handle on this than most cities across the nation, and is far ahead of any suburb.

What does this mean for the future?

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Cultural Property

Globalism, as a concept, has many strange facets that can each dazzle and blind in their own way.  The basic principle is that the people of the world are somehow coming together and forming a single marketplace.  Since the start of this thing called “civilization”, however, a marketplace has been the center of social life and the two have not been easily distinguished.  Culture and commerce are ultimately, the same thing right down to the bare bones like contract law and the principles of incorporation.

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The Wheel

During the many lulls in inaugural coverage, CNN knew what would dazzle ‘em.  They had their satellite image of everyone standing around in the cold waiting for The Moment – the time when Obama would formally be worn in.  Huddled around giant screens you could see the black specs, which the CNN crew dutifully told us “look just like ants!”  Yes, from a distance, we are small, but doesn’t that miss the point just a little?  It seems to me that when the great Wheel of History appears to be turning, we have one day where we should not be focusing on where we are on the rim, but on the progress of the great Wheel itself.

That’s why I started rummaging though all the ancient texts in my library.

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The Capitol statuary hall was filled with the leaders of the land, some seated and awaiting lunch, other standing larger than life in marble.  A gentle wash of language drifted up to the gilded and painted ceilings as they all bided their time, waiting for the moment. Then, on cue, the doorman barked, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States!”  A door made small by the moment opened, and Barack Obama marched out.  The Marine Band struck up “Hail to the Chief”, the President’s own song.  It was Obama’s moment, it was his song, and all those leaders were now his.

That was when the day became real for me.  Up until then every moment was somehow its own, every word suited to the occasion.  But here, with all the trappings of the ages, he still commanded.  It really did happen.  It wasn’t just a fairy tale.

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Shadows Past

The rumor spread down Flagler Street with a sense of urgency.  Miami was a city of rumors, each of us trying to stay ahead of the latest in unrest.  There was a way these things came through, a procedure.  It came to me in broken Spanglish, filling the pause between the order of Café Cubano and the exchange of money.  “They found the shadows yesterday.  I think they’ll just leave it.”  I wasn’t sure exactly what they were talking about, but I knew it was exciting.  “It was the old Colored fountain.”  What?

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Keynes to Success

The Federal Government has thrown its entire weight into preventing a Depression through a program of dedicated spending.  The original bailout/stimulus of $700 billion is being matched by a project budget deficit of $1,100 billion for 2009, plus whatever President Obama proposes and untold amounts of money loaned by the Federal Reserve.  All together, the total debt of $11 trillion is already similar to the size of our total economy, but we have been told that the additional borrowing is necessary to keep the economy running.

One question is rarely asked:  What happens if it doesn’t work?

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