Tuesday, April 7, 2009


This opinion piece headlines next week's edition of the New Yorker, quite possibly my favorite magazine. Packer presents a quick rundown of Barack's first hundred days and offers some perspective, however biased, on his political philosophy.

I'm reticent to express my political views through a medium such as this, as I don't intend my blog to be polemical in the least. I'd like it to be thought-provoking and dynamic, hence the occasional break in music-oriented posts (sorry, can't help wanting to share it!).

Bits and pieces of Packer's commentary slighly perturb me, but the same goes for a great many parts of conservative rhetoric. To become polarized in any one direction is a dangerous, dangerous thing. I encourage you to form your own opinions and to read everything with a grain (maybe a boulder?) of salt.

An excerpt:
"He promised a federal guarantee of warranties for owners of G.M. and Chrysler cars, but he won’t put the government in temporary control of the banks, which are at the heart of the economic crisis. He is willing to spend $275 billion for homeowners’ relief, but he won’t let the government enter into the business of making direct loans."

...a point where I see Packer's thought process erring... just the slightest bit. Drastic intervention (i.e. government control of banks) unless absolutely necessary, frightens me.

Planning to post a few super chill minimal tracks soon - totally my style. Be on the lookout ;)

And off I go to my business law course. Fitting.


Giles - The Name Above the Title said...

In addition to the Woody biography, I have another book I need to show you - a collection of New Yorker profiles by John Lahr. Good stuff. Je t'aime, Stephenson.

Nicole said...

I'm trying to decide which side you're taking on the issue...

John Y. said...

Packer doesn't argue that Obama is inconsistent but rather cites examples that his (liberal) critics have posed. Note the preface to your excerpt:

"Given the early and ample track record, there’s surprisingly little agreement over the nature of Obamaism. Obama’s signature projects defy grouping under a single heading, and, as a result, he has been criticized for inconsistency."

Because he's trying to provide a contextual backdrop for his central argument that there is an underlying viewpoint independent of pragmatism that drives the policies produced by this administration. This paradigm is what Packer calls the "attachment to the institutions that hold up American society, a desire to make them function better rather than remake them altogether." The first 2/3 of the article is actually a centrist rebuttal against the follies of drastic intervention rather than in support of it.

It's not until later that he goes on his rebuke against modern conservatism which is then open for question. That part is perhaps where Packer's thought process is erring but from overt simplification rather than lacking merit.

noappendix said...

Its not like you really want the government taking control of the banking system anyways.. the government is slow and inefficient. It would be a disaster. Its my opinion that we should just let the banks (and GM) fail.. times would be tough for awhile but we would start anew instead of rewarding people for poor decisions.

christine marie said...

like woah, tons of commentary! sweeeet.

john - nicely put. perhaps i interpreted his tone differently... i skimmed over this article quickly & put it up just to get it out there before rushing off to leb. i immediately detected a certain slant in packer's writing, and an expression of disappointment that obama has yet to intervene in a more dramatic and fast-paced fashion. i wouldn't say packer lacks merit; he has his opinions, no? and the new yorker is simply a forum for expression, though we both know which way it tilts more often than not. going to re-read the article now! (p.s. why don't you have a blog?! you're more apt to write/comment on stuff like this than me!)

henry - check check. estamos de acuerdo.

John Y. said...

Oh no, I think you may have misread me. I actually think his characterization of modern conservatism HAS merit (hence "from overt simplification rather than lacking merit") but it views the transformation of principle into policy from a narrow perspective. It doesn't give you the complete picture as demonstrated by the allocation of all but three paragraphs to the movement. In particular, it fails to address the political realities for both parties. More likely than not, Packer's "American institutionalism" is a justification rather than explanation for political pragmatism. How many times have we heard from the far right about how Obama = socialism? If anything, it's a defensive, rather than proactive, approach against institutional transformation. In the same way, anyone can define modern conservatism in lofty terms that underscore the motives for "principled" action but it's fails to address another political reality: a minority party that lacked the perception of principle in its actions over the past eight years.

I'm going to disagree on letting the banks fail for a variety of reasons but I will concede that the automakers are in a considerably more precarious position. Check out this other article from James Surowiecki at our favorite magazine:


christine marie said...

deberías desarrollar un blog, john.

not let the banks fail... but also not make direct loans... will read ze article.

John Y. said...

Haha, thanks. Sin embargo mi vida no es tan interesante como la suya para justificar la creación ahora. Quizás despúes de la mundanza a Nueva York. How was Bill Nye?

noappendix said...

We should just let natural selection occur.. all these businesses that are on the verge of bankruptcy should just be let go. As a result, stronger and leaner companies will emerge. Isn't this what capitalism is all about?

Also, you've got to wonder who's going to pay for this bailout coupled with the earmark riddled stimulus plan (and don't forget national healthcare). We're going to have to issue more debt and as a result inflation will shoot up. Its kind of sad, but China might be the first country leading the world out of this recession. They now have the three largest banks in the world.