Did Paulson’s wife have to get up early?

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I can just picture the scene in the Paulson household, poor old Hank’s wife having to get up early to prepare his “snap tin” so he could off to work shifts at the weekend.

He would then take his lunch, walk out of his door, “through the mansions of fate and the mansions of pain” and walk “through those factory gates in the rain”. Might seem corny to some or not “trendy” enough, but Springsteen is always passionate, sincere and the antithesis of the materialistic empty heads who make up a sizeable percentage of the music and showbiz communities.

The US Treasury Secretary and the rest of that other materalistic “community” (what an ironic word to use given the circumstances) – the financial one – bear a huge responsibilty for the almighty mess the world finds itself in.

The good news (and we knew this already, didn’t we?) is that the supposed bastian of capitalism is not pure capitalist at all (is there such a country and would we ever want such a country?) – but an economy that’s occasionally managed, but mainly only as a knee-jerk reaction to the failures of capitalism.

Long term market-distorting management does occur in some area when there are votes at stake – for example, the corn-based ethanol, auto and airline industries, resulting in very little if any benefit for the common national and global good.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a properly regulated economy to avoid catastrophes like this in the first place? Or this impossible because of the US political system which is so heavily shaped by the lobbyists?

The old-style Labour Party in Britain used to believe in the Marxist doctrine of “nationalising the commanding heights of the economy”, which in those days meant the mining (see the picture above – UK miners with their “snap” or lunch tins), utility and steel industries.

In America’s case it’s the banks and the housing markets that represent the commanding heights of its economy, and so what’s the difference? Risk has been well and truly socialised and the potential for huge moral hazard created so the greedy can get away with it.

And the main point – hence my sarcasm at the beginning – is that Paulson and his like will be financially fine regardless of what happens. The people who will suffer are the rest of us who stand to lose our jobs, or worse could be pushed into severe poverty in many parts of the world if his rescue plan fails.

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