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233: Smack My Bernanke Up


KMO is on a couch-surfing book tour of the Northeast, and he took shelter in the swank crib of James Howard Kunstler. Jim inveighs against the money-for-nothing modus of Washington and Wall Street and laments the migration of gambling from the cultural margins into the mainstream of American life. They talk about Jim's new novel, The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel, before the conversation devolves into tipsy ramblings and laughter.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 26th, 2010 08:04 am (UTC)

That musical interlude is priceless! It was better than "Cats." I'll listen to it again and again.

Andrew Ramponi
Nov. 26th, 2010 11:21 am (UTC)
Caveat Emptor
JHK really is a fantastically lyrical and entertaining talker.

One thing have struck me about what Jim had to say on the financial folks. Of course just like everyone else they are supposed to follow the law of the land, and just like everyone else sometimes they won't, but I don't see this as the main problem.

The people at Goldman Sachs job is to make money, not make moral decisions for the betterment of society and it seems to me that those who give their money to that industry do so primarily because they expect a profit. The financial structure is similar in ways to the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages in western Europe; power, entwined inextricably with politics...it can only exist as long as the mass of people support it...in this case give them money to "invest". People looked to the bishops to give them the experience of god; having money is the modern day equivalent of salvation.

I puzzled for years over one particular contradiction in the financial business, namely that when I bought something as an investment it stood to reason that someone had to be willing to sell it. Since the only reason I was buying it was was to make a profit from the price going higher, what was the thinking behind the person selling, who was the "professional", surely they too were doing it to make money? How?

There are 2 sides to every transaction. This is just as true with buying a derivative (CDO/CDS/oil futures contract or whatever) as buying a car. "Buyer Beware" is a 2000 year old bit of wisdom we seem to have forgotten. (sellers have to be aware too!) We instinctively doubt the street seller, but trust the glossy brochure.

What a pity.

Dec. 18th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Caveat Emptor
Well put.

This podcast -- and, importantly, your reply to it -- inspired me to write my own take. I quoted you, and hope you don't mind.
Nov. 29th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
I've got a guess as to why American evangelicals don't (vocally?) oppose legalized gambling. Their politics has become defined by opposition to liberals. Without a unified liberal stance on legalized gambling, they've got no where to go.

I'd guess that if progressives coalesced around a platform of blanket legalization of gambling, then evangelicals would view it as the stuff of the devil. But if progressives generally decide that gambling prohibition is a sound policy, evangelicals will claim they "hate the free market" or don't want people to be able to exercise their God-given luck.
Dec. 18th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
An excellent point.

Have you read Brightsided? Ehrenreich goes into great detail about how the Be Rich Now!!! movement has infiltrated evangelism, to the point of ignoring stuff actually mentioned by Christ.
Dec. 19th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
Have not read it, but that's been on my list.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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