Monday, November 21, 2011

This Thanksgiving, let's talk about the economy

My fellow Americans [that's how one is supposed to begin these things, no?],

This Thanksgiving, we will gather with our families and give thanks for the many good things that we have. The first thing we always put, with varying (and not necessarily related) levels of piety and sincerity, is each other. Then we enumerate, or mention, or ponder, our stuff. But while we're all here, let's have a talk. There are some folks missing Thanksgiving because they're camped out in public parks and various other public places across the country.

I don't know what to make of them. But I do know that they want us to think. And they want us to act. It's probably fair to say that they don't exactly know what action they want. But if we're to have high-quality action, we've gotta talk. You'll be sitting down at the table with those who love you, despite the fact that you each think that each others' politics are absurd. Now's the time to have a few drinks (we're tipping back the pinot noir with our turkey. Probably some white wine before, and bourbon after) and open up a conversation.

Resolve to bring up the economy. Because it sucks; we can all agree on that. And we can't vote in a new government (regardless of our politics, I'm sure we can all find someone representing us that we'd rather not), so let's start getting out of the gridlock at the grassroots level. Bring up the economy with someone you know disagrees with you.

Get past the frustration, and ponder that the person you're talking to has some rational or emotional reason for the opinions you're hearing. The explanation is not just "they're frickin' nuts." "They want to end the economy as we know it." "They're just jealous." "They're just defending the status quo."

Lefties: recall that it took the modern economy for "dignity of the individual" to have any meaning. Read Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Virtues.

Righties: recall that it takes respect for the dignity of others to make the modern economy work. Read Matt Taibbi's ongoing reportage series. Here's a good spot to begin.

Everyone, be thankful for the things that make this country great. Here's my favorite from the past couple of weeks: a bagel shop in New York, about to go out of business and getting white-knight investorship--from a pair of Pakistani cab drivers..

We come together at Thanksgiving--putting aside our differences is great and all, but how about resolving some of them?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On growing up...or not

A friend invited me to a bike race today. It's a big bike rice, a mountain bike relay race out west. Right off the bat, let me tell you, I am STOKED. This is going to be a little mini-vacation, or maybe an extra-large weekend. What's a little funny about it is that it simultaneously has me feeling like a little kid, too excited to sleep. And a Big Important Adult: I have the grown-up freedom to take a weekend off.

So you grow up, in order to be a kid again.