Economy: Shut Up and Help

These are unusual times.

I’m dismayed and frightened by the venomous divisiveness surrounding presidential politics, attempts at recovery, stimulus, and bailouts. Is it not obvious that the whole world is threatened by an economic catastrophy at a scale suitable for a major disaster movie? Is it not obvious that this country, which, public and private sector, Republicans and Democrats, greedy, spendthrift, immediate gratification-sated for decades, played a lead role in getting us into this mess,  now has to play a lead role in getting us out of this mess?

This is not the time to play politics and look for what to criticize in emergency measures that are trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. If the new president is wrong, there w width=ill be time later to analyze and criticize and evaluate. Right now, though, the whole damn ship is sinking. We should be helping, not arguing. We can argue later.

I’m not an historian by any means, but I’ve been watching the world and particularly this country for a lot of years, and I’ve never seen anything like it. A new president inherits a perfect storm of collapsing banking system, mortgages, stock market, major industries, and skyrocketing unemployment. And it feels like three out of every four talking heads want to complain that he’s doing the wrong thing to get us out of it.

Why don’t we take every one of those talking heads and ask them to show us some good faith. What are they going to do to help? How much did they influence the sub-prime mess, or the deregulation of derivatives and the banking system. Let’s listen to the people (if we can find any) who were trying to pull things back to sanity before the whole thing blew up on us.

It’s hard to write about my normal topics while this is going on.

Photograph from “notsogoodphotography” via Flickr


  • Tim Berry says:

    Derrick, if I were going to just pick your arguments apart in a dishonest way, I'd edit your comment to take out the last sentence.

    You're sort of restating BK's point above, that dissent is valuable. And I'm troubled by that point, basically because I agree, dissent is part of our process; just not at this critical moment. That's the jist of my earlier comment, after BK's comment.

    However, I'm not asking who's accountable, as you suggest. What's done is done. I do know one person who isn't the cause: Barack Obama. He will be accountable, later, in the best case; but not in the worst case, which would be if we can't pull together for a while and let him lead. Then we're all rowing in different directions, in which case we're all to blame for the catastrophe we cause.

    Thanks for the comment, Tim

  • Derrick Gumble says:

    You are asking who is accountable, but isn't that part of the debate you don't want to hear? If the current plan is a bad idea, aren't those opposing it helping with their alternate ideas? You seem to say "It doesn't matter what the truth is, just do anything." But if I differ with you I'm sure you'll pick apart my arguments if you can, too.

  • Small Business Tools says:

    I've often found good criticism is very helpful. I agree, though, that partisan criticism for purely ideological reasons is unhelpful.

  • Sagacious says:


    Thanks for writing this post, I feel the same way and probably could not have articulated it half as well. Second guessing is human nature and hindsite is 50/50, and there will be plenty of time to disect the outcome when this is done. I never like to give leadership a hall pass, I think the fact that we can freely question our leaders is one of the best things about the US, but to your point there is definitely a time and a place. Obama was elected to solve the problem, and I have to believe that he has one of the best comprehensive views of what is going on. Making judgments through filtered lenses will not get you the entire picture.

  • Tim Berry says:

    @BK I like what you add here.

    You're certainly very much in line with my underlying logic, which is that these are very special times, during which we temporarily suspend disbelief. I suspect you and I would be on opposite sides of a lot of political arguments, but I agree with your basic thought on it. In fact, although I opposed every other war in my lifetime, I too felt on board with the invasion of Afghanistan, and I actually did suspend my disbelieve at that time, much like I think people on the opposite end of the spectrum should at this time.

    My daughter Megan added to this post in email this morning with an important warning: she said I sounded vaguely like the "my country, love it or leave it" folks, which she knows is not my view on the long term. I believe in loyal dissent.

    I also believe, though, that dissent should be tempered by reflection of the specific case and context. Easing up on a sitting president should happen on very rare occasions. The idea is dangerous most of the time.

    And, @BK, back to your comment, pushing it back to the context of 9/11 is a good way to clear the air. I agree with you that pulling together was necessary then. And, for the record, I did. And I hope you agree with me that pulling together is necessary now. My opinion, frankly, is that what we're threatened with now — and not just us, the whole world — is even worse than what we were threatened with in 9/11; but I do agree with you that it was valid at that time.

    So if the clamor against the current president's struggle to avert a major catastrophe isn't just venom, and wanting him to fail, but rather a matter of revenge for the clamor against that president after 9/11, let's agree that both were destructive and dangerous, and break the cycle, and pull together now.


  • BK says:

    I agree with your sentiment except for one thing: this didn't start with our current situation. It started immediately after 9/11. Rather than rally behind the president to do whatever was deemed necessary to prevent another attack, policies were viciously attacked by politicians, talking heads, etc. The lack of unity gave the bad guys further resolve. In fact, the more I think about it, the parallels of then and now are almost perfectly aligned.

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