The Flinchum File

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Canary in a Mineshaft

Yesterday, a wonderful client of seventeen years came to visit.  Since it was a bit of a drive, she spent the night with us, which gave us time to think together, as well as to catch up.  Often, she has perceptions of such clanging clarity that I’m haunted for days.

For example, once she discussed her guilt that America had been at war for years and all she had been asked to do was “go shopping, go to Disneyland.”  A good American, she wanted to do more, i.e., to see goods rationed, to see taxes increased, to see other spending decreased, etc.  (Instead, all we ask is that her children and grandchildren pay off the three trillion dollars we borrowed to wage simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Last night, it was disconcerting to hear her rising fear of socialism.  This is a discredited economic theory, since the fall of the Soviet Union, the embrace of capitalism by China, and punctuated by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  I assume her fear began rising with the nationalization of AIG and GM, followed by equity injections into most large banks, which was done with great fanfare.  Since then, those amounts have been quietly reduced to a mere fraction of the amount originally invested.

Did the government involvement in the economy skyrocket during the crisis?  Absolutely, but it has been decreasing ever since.  Did the government began regulating with a heavy hand?  Only in financial services, most of which regulation was long overdue.  After all, financial services caused the financial crisis.

So, why the rising fear of socialism?  I don’t know!  My suspicion is that fear always rises during unsettled times like this, and we need to put a name on it.  Maybe, it is a rising fear of the unknown, because there is so much of it right now.  Whatever, I just appreciate her insight.  If she is scared, it tells me fear is more widespread than I expected.