Euripides, economists & economy

“Circumstances rule men and not men rule circumstances.” – Euripides

<a thought I hope both candidates remember in the debate & in general>

Let me be clear upfront.

–          I am not old enough to have met Euripides,

–          I am not an economist (albeit I did get a fake undergraduate economics degree – fake in that it was an essay theoretical driven degree and I have always known how to write and be theoretical …in a good grade drivel way),

–          I am not afraid of numbers (and in fact find comfort in them sometimes),

–          and, lastly, I am perfectly unclear on what is best to fix the american economy (although I am fairly sure which president we have is irrelevant to fixing).


I used to think I knew.

At least in broader strokes.

Now? I am simply confused. Ok. Not confused but rather unclear why I can’t choose some items off the Romney menu and why I can’t choose some other things off the Obama menu. And I am also unclear why they wouldn’t want to do the same.

Why do I say this?  Well. I read the Wall Street Journal (an unabashed republican skewed paper) and when going into detail … some of what “the Romney plan” suggests is good stuff. Not all (because for some reason they want to make it all about dollars and cents) but a lot. .

And then I watch MSNBC (an unabashed democrat skewed information provider) and some of what “the Obama plan” suggests (and has implemented) is good stuff. Not all (because for some reason they want to make it all about fairness) but a lot.

Then I watch CNN and get really confused because they actually try and be fair by representing all views <which apparently viewers do not like because their ratings are lower despite having the best, by far, news product available today>

— separate note (just in case CNN is reading this): they should hire me … I could change that —


I want to pick and choose ideas.

Now, whenever I get confused <on this stuff> I typically try and get some perspective by reading letters to the editor in The Economist after they have written a British point of view on the topic I may be having some confusion over. I find the letter writers, when critiquing the article, do a nice short portrayal of ‘what really is’ (and regardless of however the Economist may skew an article the letters kind of nail down truth …or as close to truth as one can get) and get to a nice clear point.

I did this … and I am still confused.

The only thing I am not confused about?  After watching night after night of negative TV ads from both sides I am perfectly clear that both candidates lie, are stupid, their plans suck and, in general, Wile E Coyote would have a better plan than either of them.


Personally? I want to pick and choose from both menus.

I don’t believe you can go 100percent to invisible hand top down economics. Too slow, not sure I trust business leaders in key segments to look beyond dollars and cents to reinvest in people and some segments just need to be infrastructurally ‘force changed.”

I don’t believe you can go “government dominated” overall. That’s not what free market is all about and, frankly, it’s not America.  We have always been about self-made and “selves” have to have an opportunity to “make.”

At crossroads moments like this … the one we are in … it seems to me we need some of both. Government to be heavy-handed where large infrastructures long term changes need to occur (healthcare was one of those in my eyes … secondary education would be another).

Government has to have a softer touch in the involvement of businesses but somehow has to identify regulatory standards to insure some type of moral code (so profit doesn’t trump “what is in the best interest of the people”).

Maybe, in the end, all of what I typed is the reason I don’t get involved in Romney-Obama bashing … it is all complex and quite complicated and each has valuable ideas & thoughts.

The economy situation is one where short term decisions may have minimal short term results with massive long term implications … and at the same time we need long term decisions which maximize some short term results (without massive long term negative impact).

It is a fine tuned dance of which simplicity seems nowhere within any of the plans.

And what makes it more complex? People. Citizens. Us. You & me.

Similar to the business world if we don’t immediately see positive results everyone starts running around like chickens with their heads cut off looking for someone to blame or suggest something is wrong.

I do not envy either candidate … for a variety of reasons <some just listed>.

However … despite the fact I do not envy them I will watch the debate tonight.

Yeah. I know. No one ever wins an election from a debate and, in fact, no matter what happens in the debate afterwards Democrats will wave their hands in the air while chuckling over some Romney miscue and Republicans will pound their fists on tables everywhere saying “see, Obama is a spineless jelly fish” and Libertarians will smoke some pot and mumble something about Ron Paul.

By the way … I predict the media will claim Romney a winner <regardless of what he actually says … unless he drops some verbal bomb pissing off over half, or 47%, of the country or drools or wets his pants or something>. My prediction is based on the fact there is too much Obama positiveness currently going on and they will want to keep the story alive for as long as possible <boy … that was cynical, wasn’t it?>.

In the end … I will watch for 2 reasons:

candidates explaining the economy

–          Presenters. Debate format aside … this is really about a string of mini-speeches. What I mean by that is, as a presenter, there are some things that you really, really want to say. Therefore you are always seeking the opportunity to say it. Now, that can lead to trouble. It means you are partially not really listening but simply looking for the verbal cue from which to leverage. It also can get you to create some incredibly absurd links to get to what you want to say. Part of being a great debater/presenter is what you are willing to “leave in the bag.” That is the fun art of watching this.

Plus. Because the economy is so topical I love to watch both of them get twisted in knots trying to explain the math <see chart to left> in a way that doesn’t make anyone think they will have to sacrifice anything.

–          Soul. I began with Euripides and will end with him:

“The company of just and righteous men is better than wealth and a rich estate.” – Euripides, Aegeus

Now. I am not foolish enough to believe we will really see the ‘real, authentic’ man but debates have a habit of creating situations where you can get backed into the corner. And to quote that infamous movie Dirty Dancing it can become a “”nobody puts baby in the corner” moment. It is within those fleeting moments you can get a glimpse of what’s inside the person. And how he/she handles the moment. I seek a glimpse of the just & righteous.

Plus. No matter what anyone tries to tell me … a presidential election is not about the economy. Both candidates have a viable plan of action <in some form or fashion>.  What I want is one who will pick & choose off the menu to lead America and … well … someone even remotely inspirational … let’s call that someone a dealer in some pragmatic Hope.

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Written by Bruce