Skip to main content

Why Write?

In reflecting upon this blog, I realize that I've never properly introduced myself or my reasons for writing.  The roots of my instincts to write were born from the financial crisis of 2007/08 which caused me to re-think some long held beliefs that I realized were mistaken.  It dawned on me then that pervasive citizen apathy had become a danger to our society, with the voices of the very few who participated actively in the political process determining the fate of the large majority who had chosen silence.  Until 2007 I would have been included in that silent majority, incorrectly believing that the U.S. was so strong that political incompetence couldn't undermine our wonderful foundation.  When the world’s financial system nearly collapsed under the weight of a toxic mix of misguided social policy regarding homeownership, impossibly naive banking regulation, easy money policies, and completely unchecked government spending, I realized how dangerous it is for citizens to blindly entrust our futures to politicians.  It dawned on me that if we wish to have a country that represents all of our ideals then we each have a responsibility to make our diverse views heard, and to hold our government leaders far more accountable and on a much shorter leash.  Ultimately, I would say that this is why I write – both to share my own ideas as well as to begin to inspire others to do similarly.

Thus far I have enjoyed writing and have found that it has helped me to refine my ideas.  The feedback that I've received has been overwhelmingly encouraging.   As expected, I have received some pushback from those who have different ideas than me, formed I am sure by different life experiences. I am so grateful that those individuals have chosen to share their ideas, as they have caused me to think through many of my beliefs much more carefully, and in some ways refine and modify them.

One theme that has been central to many of my writings, and has seemed to have struck a chord in some, has been a skepticism that government has the answers to society's problems and along with that a preference for the "free market" to work things out. When I refer to the term "free market" what I really mean is people acting, to the greatest extent possible, free of authority. In voicing this preference I've gotten some pushback from individuals, whose opinions are worthy of being heard and respected, who believe that a society without significant government oversight would be horrible and that government plays a necessary role in insuring many things that we all desire, including physical safety, a financial safety net for those who fall down or need help, education, etc, etc. These folks fear that without government the rich and powerful would overrun the rest.

While I understand this point of view, I continue to generally disagree with it, mostly for the following reason. In every society there will always be power structures and there will always be those in power positions capable of abusing their power. In the case of government, those in power have armies, and police forces, and spy networks at their disposal to enforce their will upon the people. Their power is thus much less limited and the effects of their ability to abuse their power will necessarily be far more profound.

There are sure to be selfish and abusive business leaders, just as there will be misguided and corrupt politicians. People are people and power often attracts those of us with bad intentions, and corrupts many of those with good ones. Yet I will always prefer that the powerful not be armed.  To clarify, I am not an extremist who wishes to dissolve government entirely, but rather to hold it more accountable for results. Also, I have, just like our founding fathers seems to have had, a fear that power once attained is rarely relinquished and power wielded from afar is necessarily less accountable. Thus, I am always troubled when the federal government grows.

I will keep on writing. I know my ideas are just that - my ideas. They are not universal truths and are necessarily limited by my own life experiences and perspectives. Fortunately for me those experiences have been broader than many. I've been rich and poor. I've benefited greatly from the capitalist system and have also suffered at its hands, and know and have seen many who have been cast aside by it. I grew up with a single mom who struggled mightily to pay our bills.  I've been married, and divorced, and re-married. I have five kids some born to me naturally and others who came into my life by adoption. I'm Caucasian and raised Jewish, my wife is Latina and raised Catholic, and we even have a son from Ethiopia. I've worked for numerous companies and have even launched my own.  I have traveled and moved much, and this has helped me to realize that my perspective is surely limited, but I've worked hard to broaden it both by experience and by being a good listener.  I hope that my words and ideas bring no harm or insult, and instead foster growth and inspire others to share their ideas here and more broadly.

Popular posts from this blog

Greed & Laziness

In this most contentious and fascinating of election cycles, when nearly each conversation leads to politics, and when polarization runs so high, I ask myself - what is the essence of the debate between left and right?  What does it really mean to be a Conservative or a Liberal?

Why Rates Must Remain Low

There is an old bond trader joke that I first heard in the 1980’s when I traded mortgage-backed securities at Drexel Burnham Lambert.  It went like this:  “Upon dying, Albert Einstein finds himself in what he is told is heaven.  He encounters another individual there and asks him what his IQ is.  When he is told that it is 175 he is overjoyed, knowing that he’s found an intellectual peer with whom he can share much.  Upon meeting another, he discovers that person’s IQ is 140 and is pleased to have met another highly intelligent person with whom he can enjoy chess and other pursuits.  He is feeling pretty good about heaven, when he comes across a person who tells him that his IQ is a mere 90, and he is flummoxed.  What, he wonders, is this guy doing in my heaven and what can I even say to this person?  Then it comes to him.  ‘Where,’ he asks, ‘do you think interest rates are heading?’”

CMBS In Flux

The CMBS market has been in a period of upheaval, with dramatic spread widening on bonds and a resulting much more expensive cost of capital for real estate borrowers who depend upon this channel for their debt financing.Market participants today wonder whether we’ve entered a period like the summer of 2011, when spreads on bonds last widened this dramatically and then snapped back within a year to provide tremendous returns for those who were courageous enough to purchase bonds at the time when there was panic selling.Or, people wonder, is this recent downturn a prelude to a structural or systemic problem, like what was experienced in 2007, when spreads widened and sucked investors in, only to punish those early responders with a much more dramatic price collapse in the next 24 months.