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Signs of Hope

This week, on Tuesday, a friend forwarded to me an editorial printed in the New York Times entitled “When Wealth Disappears.”  The article is a clarion call for honesty and unmasks a reality of how the false promises made by politicians for many decades that can never be delivered upon has entrapped all of us, America and most other nations, into a terrible future of economic decline. 

This is indeed an excellent article and highly worth the read.   I must admit that I found it a bit shocking
that it appeared in the NYT, which for many years I’ve believed have been an outlet for the deceit and misdirection that have led us to this gloomy place we now find ourselves in.  Yet, unlike the author who sees a dark future, I find recent signs for real optimism, perhaps for the first time in a long while.  For example, the printing of the article is itself a definite positive sign inasmuch as it will bring a new and heightened sense of awareness to its many readers. 

In my mind, the biggest risk we have is to go silently into a global depression, glibly continuing to believe in the false promises and rosy forecasts of government officials who are either completely clueless or terribly conflicted from being truthful for fear of being driven out of office.  As an aside, I’ve always found it curious that media and markets pay any attention at all to the speeches of leaders like our Fed Chairman or President when they discuss our economy.  Even if he believed it, could you imagine a Fed Chairman being truthful and testifying that the economy is a disaster and that if he didn’t continue to print an historic amount of new money we’d surely find ourselves in the midst of Great Depression II?

While this current partial government shutdown is indeed difficult for us to swallow regardless of our ideology, and is horribly displacing for the men and women out of work on furlough, I find it to be further cause for optimism.  Many may disagree with Ted Cruz and the other Congressmen who are holding out, but it is important to realize that they are merely spokespeople for their constituencies, and that there are those in America who have had enough of the tax/borrow/spend system that has led us to historic levels of indebtedness.  Taking away the punch bowl is never fun, generally leads to a brawl, and the guy who does it is not terribly popular in the moment. 

Last night I saw a roundtable discussion on Bloomberg TV where three intelligent CEO’s, including my friend Mort Zuckerman, discussed the prospective horrors that might befall us if our government should default and fail to make a scheduled interest payment on its bonds, which is possible if the debt ceiling is not raised soon.  The mere fact that this show aired, and reflected the alarm of these brilliant leaders who might otherwise have been at the Carnegie Hall for the symphony or a lovely dinner party was itself a very positive sign.  Alarm is called for and it seems like the alarms are sounding loudly enough to create the cause for real change.

I’ve learned firsthand that it is only when a person is down that one learns what he/she is made of.  America is definitely down (and so are most other nations).  If we Americans can face our reality and our worst fears with honesty and courage, which I believe is possible and is true to our nation’s heritage, we will emerge in a decade or so stronger than ever.  It will be fascinating to watch how it all plays out.

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