Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Best of Critics 

It's always nice to see our European friends lecturing the US on its failings. It's not that we don't deserve it -- what with two financial bubbles in less than 10 years. On the other hand, it is easier to see the failings of another before accepting one's own. Getting a lecture from the Italians is particularly amusing. The country still hasn't learned how to collect taxes.

What is happening is a natural human tendency and one communicators need to guard against -- telling others what to do. The failings of others seem simple from the outside. Yes, there was greed and stupidity in the US, and yes, anyone with common sense should have seen the two bubbles as they were occurring, but millions didn't here and abroad.

Financial regulators have to deal with the reality of the moment and wait for finger-pointing later. There will be enough of that as the US financial system is re-shaped. Congressional hearings will be hypocrisy in action. Senators will excoriate the same people from whom they took campaign funds and protected against critics only a few months ago. That will be fun to watch, if one likes irony.

Meanwhile Americans can begin toting what it is going to cost them personally to clean up the mess, and those who saved for retirement can watch their investments shrink. As that happens, the US will do a fine job of criticizing itself.


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