Monday, February 16, 2009

Busting the money trusting

Adam sends word of a good Bill Moyers interview with Simon Johnson of IMF fame. It is refreshing to see someone of importance and clear intelligence outlining the problem in a way that anyone can understand.

I remember trying to explain to an Argentinian friend a year ago how the US was going to go through the same sort of debt restructuring that has happened to so many emerging markets. He probably understood it better than most Americans can. He was also pretty familiar with the idea that the political apparatus of a country can be captured by the business world in general, and by a subset of that world in particular. So the irony of the head of the IMF getting up there and recommending that the US government nationalize a corrupt banking system and additionally go into debt to provide a counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus would certainly not be lost on him.

In the end, every time I think of these things I find myself coming back to Lawrence Lessig's formulation of the problem: the influence of money on politics is not our only problem, nor is it even our most important problem, but it is our first problem -- if we do not solve it we will not solve any of the other problems, no matter what you think those problems are. Here's his most recent restatement of the issue:

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