Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Wrong Classroom

We begin with a quote attributed to Upton Sinclair:

It's very difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary is dependent upon not understanding it.


Onward and upwards... an interesting article in today's NYT op-ed section by David Brooks titled The Behavioral Revolution.
This meltdown is not just a financial event, but also a cultural one. It’s a big, whopping reminder that the human mind is continually trying to perceive things that aren’t true, and not perceiving them takes enormous effort.

As one who spent four fruitless years taking economic courses in a business school towards a behavioral economics degree... it is all I can do to not simply sit back, long since cashed out of my mutual funds, and laugh.

Anyone who watched this train wreck from a behavioral/psychological pov saw it coming quite a while ago. Only no one who was watching their home "value" or their stock "value" rise wished to listen.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Render Unto Caesar

In my world, you don't humour a politician who presents "Change," "Unity," and especially, "Hope," as hypnotic mantras, with the power of enchantment over very large crowds. And you especially don't humour such a politician at a time when both country and world are unstable, and hard decisions will have to be made.

Deeper than this: Obama has presented himself from the start as a messianic, "transformational" leader -- and thus played deceitfully with ideas that belong to religion and not politics. That he has done this so successfully is a mark of the degree to which the U.S. itself, like the rest of the western world, has lost its purchase on the Christian religion. Powerful religious impulses have been spilt, secularized.

In this climate, people tend to be maniacally opposed to the sin to which they are not tempted: to giving Christ control over the things that are Caesar's. But they are blind to the sin to which they are hugely tempted: giving Caesar control over the things that are Christ's.

"Faith, hope, and charity" are Christ's things. They apply, properly, outside time -- to a "futurity" that is not of this world. They must not be applied to any earthly utopia. A Caesar who appropriates otherworldly virtues, is riding upon very dangerous illusions. Follow him into dreamland, and you'll be lucky to wake up.
Messianic Pretensions

And yet, it is the Republican party who are the Jesus freaks...