From a fascinating article in the January 2010 issue of The Atlantic:
…We really have only two choices. Doing more, or doing less. Trying to work with our flawed governmental system despite its uncorrectable flaws, or trying to contain the damage that system does to the rest of our society. Muddling through, or starving the beast.
Our government is old and broken and dysfunctional, and may even be beyond repair. But… our only sane choice is to muddle through. As human beings, we ultimately become old and broken and dysfunctional—but in the meantime it makes a difference if we try. Our American republic may prove to be doomed, but it will make a difference if we improvise and strive to make the best of the path through our time—and our children’s, and their grandchildren’s—rather than succumb.
I’m no economist, but I can’t shake the feeling that Goldman Sachs is just the winner of a zero sum game. Do they create wealth, or are they just really good at siphoning wealth away from the rest of the economy?
David A. Viniar, the chief financial officer, was on the defensive Thursday. Talk of bonuses, and whether they were justified, dominated what in another era might have been a celebratory call with the media.
“We are very focused on what is going on in the world,” Mr. Viniar replied to a barrage of questions about whether the bank should pay outsize bonuses in these hard economic times. “We are focused on the economic climate. We are focused on what is going on with other people.”
That last phrase–“we are focused on what is going on with other people”–struck me as either disingenuous or completely out of touch.