Friday, March 27, 2009

I Wish I Didn't Know Now What I Didn't Know Then

It's a sad day when you think you're reading satire or some piece of phony humor, and it turns out that it's really an article from ten years ago in the New York Times that contains the following quote:

The article is worth reading for a host of reasons. For one, it exposes our political system and highlights that some legislators do, in fact, understand our complex economy -- even if they're unable to stop the train of stupidity that they're riding on.

Another quote from the article that's telling:

That sounds like a commercial, if there ever was one, for economic destruction. Of course, my rear-view mirrors are spotless, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Remember this when someone decries the role of government and casts them as regulators holding back innovation. Remember all of this because there are a lot of people that make loud noises as great pundits that think that "simple" answers to complex questions are substitutes for history and intelligence. Remember things like the events, documented for posterity, by this article for what they were.

Hopeless, stupid mistakes by people that had all of the facts, the history and the understanding to know better, and yet they still proceeded to enact legislation that would be our downfall.


Anonymous said...

Dropping Glass-Steagall was not a significant factor in the credit crunch. Dorgan was wrong about it 10 years ago. Looking back 10 years a lot of people got things wrong.

How about this one from 10 years ago, when the Linux desktop was about to arrive ....

Imagine a scenario on the freeway. Microsoft is a large, slow, lumbering truck that -- even though it's a fairly recent model -- has seen better days. It's crawling along the freeway, inefficiently belching smoke. In the cloudy distance behind it, a Porsche 911 (Linux) emerges. Even though the Porsche is based upon 40 year old technology, it's gaining on the truck at unbelievable speed. In this scenario, just before it whizzes by, one of your public relations people jumps out into the road, and yells to whoever might listen that the truck is still ahead. One can only speculate as to what's going to hit him unexpectedly in this hypothetical situation.

Paul Ferris, Oct 9, 1999

FeriCyde said...

Hey Anonymous,

I will gladly concede that out of the 200 or so points that article made, this one was wrong.

Linux has yet to take over the desktop.

In the mean time, Free Software has dominated something else -- this thing we call "the Internet."

But, yeah, I guess I was wrong ... about the desktop.

On your point, however, I have to strongly disagree. Repeal of Glass-Steagall was extremely significant -- along with other types of regulation -- basic policing of the law even -- the SEC has been more or less out to lunch for years.

Even Greenspan concedes that the idea that the markets could regulate themselves was short-sighted:

A lot of people can easily see this (including Greenspan) -- now. At the time, the idea of self-regulation seemed sound. But it's obvious now, that it was a bad idea.

This is easy to tell for the same reason your critique of my article is easy to make -- the rear-view mirror picture of looking back at what happened is much easier than looking forward. My guess is that lots of people look at the repeal of Glass-Steagall and take it out of context, IMHO this and a lot of other analysis is an example of simplistic thinking. Take my article (or the melt-down) in a holistic view. You might get a different picture.

I wrote that article in 1999 and a lot of the talking points still have merit today.

The only difference today is that I'm writing this response, believe it or not, on a Windows computer. I use both Linux and Windows a lot these days.

I still think similar things about Linux in the context of solution. The only difference is that these days, I'm far less pissed off than I used to be :-)

Some people even think that it's harmed my writing style.

Regardless, you made my day.

I barely remember writing that piece and it still makes me laugh.

Thanks again,