Things might blow up, but we can prevent it

12May10

I almost bought into Margaret Wente’s column today.

Almost.

But somewhere between writing that “everybody breathed a huge sigh of relief” after the almost universal financial bailouts “saved” the economies of the world’s economic superpowers last year, and her insinuation that Greece’s current financial meltdown is akin to not paying its taxes, I realized that the longtime Globe and Mail scribe was indulging in that most odious of journalistic sins: the gross generalization.

Things blow up, Wente states plainly. Further, even the brightest of minds don’t know how to fix these things, she says.

Wente says even the best minds cannot compensate for human nature. On this, I agree, as even them most noble intellects cannot make up for the greed and willing short-sightedness that plague the human condition.

But Wente loses me with her generalizations.

“No politician was ever elected on a platform of belt-tightening,” she says in regard to the pie-in-the-sky promises that many politicians have made, even in the midst of crumbling economies.

Really? How about Mike Harris? Ronald Reagan? Margaret Thatcher?

These three cleverly tempered their tough economic policies with promises of a bright economic future begat by the very social spending cuts — at the expense of the lower classes, of course — they were going to implement.

Right-wing politicians have been selling spending cuts to people for decades, wrapped neatly in little packages of scapegoating and finger-pointing; again, at the expense of society’s least fortunate.

Wente also asserts that nobody could see the economic collapse coming. Again, a huge generalization. Many economic analysts had predicted a global financial meltdown for several years. Further, even the most economically challenged people understand the cyclical nature of trickle-down economies.

So, yes, things do blow up, but it’s not like many people don’t see it coming.

It isn’t so much that the smartest minds have no idea how to stop things from blowing up, but rather that they can’t compensate for the weakest minds — those that continue to place the wrong people in power.

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