In another of those top-ten surveys we love to take about ourselves, a new one lists our 10 “worse states” in terms of their costly vulnerability to natural disasters:
4. New York
Wait. That’s only 10 states. What about the 11th….? That would be the state of our economy….! Right now every politician, pundit and especially economist is pounding a drumbeat of bad numbers on the failing state of our national economy. Things are bad on every front — jobs, production, export, GNP. So bad it becomes almost compulsive to look for a seeable reason (AKA, something or someone to blame).
If you’re a secularist, the usual suspects are: President, Congress, the Fed, or China. If you’re a religionist, you may instead point to: God, Fate, Nostradamus, or China. However if you’re a realist, you won’t look to a Who, more to an It.
In this case “it” is the natural rhythm of a free-wheeling capitalist economy. Throughout our history we’ve usually rolled the dice and come up a winner. But not even a hot dice-player can do it every time. Check the record to see how the nation has lurched from bubble to bust, from hot to cold. Dozens of little times; plus some very big one. Like 1837, 1893, 1929 and now 2008.
The Craps table metaphor is a useful one. No matter how smart the player (we’ve had Alexander Hamilton to Alan Greenspan as examples), no matter how smart the formulas (we’ve had Keynesian to Tea Party ones), capitalism is intentionally a glorious casino in which anyone can win. Or lose. Something the players must understand before entering, because streaks are never forever.
So regardless of how smart the player, how good the roll, how hot the game, in the long long run it’s still Craps. Not an exact science, more often a random game of win or lose. Some come out big winners, some hurting losers. But blaming the house or the game or the dealer or the shooters around you doesn’t change anything, really. Only helps you actually believe there’s some someone behind all your bad luck.
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