I haven’t written about the Economic Crisis, aka Depression, for a long time. There just hasn’t been anything to add to what I said a year ago when this was starting. Thing is, if you watch local nooze you realize that at some point a complete lack of nooze is nooze in itself, and the whole lack of anything becomes worthy of comments. That goes double when you’re in the middle of a Depression and no one seems to get it.
A good example of this came on MPR a few daze ago. A panel of economists was discussing the situation and how they now, repeat now, predict things won’t get better until middle to end 2010. But the fun didn’t stop there. They went out of their way to repeat how no one saw this coming, later corrected to an “insignificant number of people” – apparently, I’m one of the insignificant! But incredulity aside, the content of the show was far more interesting in what they didn’t talk about:
The word never made it onto the show. At 41 minutes or so it was briefly mentioned that some of the jobs being lost will never come back as whole industries retool forever. That’s a big part of restructuring, but it misses out the fun part – when the people get new jobs and we all live happily ever after. While that’s the good news, it gets glossed over for one very good reason – it’s too hard. What will the new economy look like? We can’t say, so we don’t. Meanwhile, this same show spent a lot of time on word they liked a lot better:
Now, I shouldn’t pick on one show on MPR. In fact, as shows go, this one was pretty good and quite worth listening to. But to talk about Recovery without mentioning Restructuring is to say that there’s really nothing wrong with things as they are – we just hit a little bump in the road. This show was very much like everything else today in this sense. Restructuring is awfully hard and scary, so they talked about good things, like how no one saw this coming and how terribly unsure of everything we are. Never mentioned is how much confidence this instills in the population struggling to understand whether they should invest in the stock market all over again or put everything into junk silver and tuna.
Restructuring is not only the hard part, it’s the part that our leadership hasn’t been willing to tackle so far. We’ve poured trillions of dollars into boosting up the structure that was built for the last economy, but very little even creating the outline of the new economy. Promises of energy independence and health care reform are great, but there’s little reason to believe that this or anything else planned by a central government will make up the bulk of the new economy. While the free market has its limitations, especially when it’s in the grip of a mania, it’s still gonna be what we have when we get through to the other side of this problem.
Then again, it’s not only the marketplace that has an interest in restructuring. In his last Encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth) Pope Benedict said:
“The current (economic) crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences and to reject negative ones. The crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future.”
Restructuring is what we need to be talking about, not a magical restarting of what has already failed. If the only people talking about this are the Pope and I, well, I hope you all are ready for a very interesting world. But if you like you can join us, as long as fixing the world sounds like a lot of fun. It is, and if nothing else it’s better than the other “Re” word: