Let us start with an analogy in the music business.
Imagine that you could read and write music. That you could sing, dance and have mastered an instrument. Let us say further, that you have managed to become a rather powerful player in the music industry. What rules would you apply to the Grammy Awards knowing that 99% of the popular artists have only one of your five skills. If you actually truly did appreciate the best music and musicians in the world, maybe you have box seats at the Vienna Opera House, you hang out with Gustavo Dudamel and every once in a while Yo Yo Ma comes by for dinner. What exactly do you care about American Idol? The question is, do you allow the Grammys and American Idol and Britain's Got Talent etc to get corrupted or not? Can you actually reconcile your musical talents and sophistication with the crowd of fans and groups who have neither? So dig the following video and parse its governance given your understanding of the need to decide 'Record of the Year'
Now if you're like me, and you are thrilled to recognize Daniel Barenboim's style in the elevators at the Venetian Hotel, but really can't name one song by Adele, then you probably don't give a rats about the Grammys. But surely millions of people do and like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, they're not going to be ignored. Whatdya do?
Well, if you're a fancy enough attorney or a clever enough candidate or an able enough lobbyist, you play both teams. That is to say you walk the impossible line of satisfying the appetites of the madding crowds while at the same time decrying their insufferable taste. Yet you indulge the sophisticated machinations of those who truly understand the game while at the same time wishing they might do more to help the crowds. And yet you know with all of you heart that the crowds are never going to become any more sophisticated than they are - otherwise they wouldn't be crowds, they'd be players.
You thus take comfort in your ability to keep your head above water and compromise yourself into oblivion. Or you get out of the game while you still have some integrity left. But there's the rub. If you get out of the game, you concede the field to the power of populism knowing any jackanape who would bother to replace your seat at the big boy table is not bloody likely to care two cents about Barenboim. In fact, it's Kanye West who wants to be the broker.
So maybe you tell yourself that there's enough room for everybody. We can have Big Macs and foie gras. Until you don't have room any more. But nobody can predict if or when that's going to happen.
Enough with the analogies. Understand that I'm talking about national politics in America, which is decidedly populist, unsophisticated and untalented. Rather like popular music. Rather like many, if not all things that require expertise to create but no talent whatsoever to consume and vote for.
According to the paranoid over at ZeroHedge,
"The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises.
If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time."
- Simon Johnson, The Quiet Coup
OK so what of it? Has anybody considered the probability that there is actually no greater good that our current brand of politics can do? Let's just turn the clock forward in speculation with the simple idea in mind that everything that is being corrupted in our government is actually unsustainable. That it cannot and will not continue at its current pace until things start getting bankrupted and broken - that there can be and will be no kicking the can down the road forever. That like the Savings & Loan industry, malfeasance will inevitably break the process and the system will collapse. Not all at once, but decidedly, piece by piece. Like Wang Computers. Like Trans World Airways. Like Adelphia Communications. Like DeLorean Motors. Like Pablo Escobar.
Sooner or later what stays wrong will become so odious, so oppressive, that it will only take a modicum of common sense and courage to stand against it. If you cannot have this much hope for mankind, then you're a whiner and I hate to tell you but even illiterate slaves know that they are slaves. In other words, after it ends in tears, then it really ends in guns. Right now there aren't enough tears, so it's not ending.
The smart money always wins. It's not easy to find out what the smart money knows, but smart money does not panic. The smart money understands human nature and risk. The path of righteousness requires smart money to defend its interests, not wishful thinking, not magic realism. Smart money understands the longevity of the Record of the Year, of the legislative agenda of a new class of Congressional Reps, of the charge and counter-charge of candidate debates. The smart money understands the value of real estate when the market is focused on collateralized debt obligations. The smart money understands how to find evidence of colliding black holes at the edge of the known universe. The smart money understands the extent to which all fictions can be believed, and the difference between conviction and commitment.
I can't tell you how much oligopoly or monopoly is too much because I can't tell you how much democracy is enough. But I know that if common sense were enough to sustain the common man, then government wouldn't be necessary and most people would live to be 100. But people make dumb mistakes and commit to foolishness. They play with fire and believe in impossible dreams. They satisfy themselves with being good instead of being excellent and then lament that bad things happen to good people.