pattern language, politics

Are We In A Permanent Recession?

Are We In A Permanent Recession?

Matthew Yglesias writes:

… if the recession ends, then it seems likely that we’ll slip right back into a new recession. I wish that weren’t the case, and that everyone would just react to an oil price spike by biking to work, but realistically we don’t seem to have made nearly the scale of adjustments that would be necessary to let the country shrug off a return to oil that costs over $4 a gallon. SOURCE

In essence he is saying what we should have known when Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, wrongly, that we would all plant vegetable gardens in our suburban lots. Mother earth incarnate. No takers.

My impression is that Yglesias is all for some incremental moves that would signal some acknowledgment of the need to move beyond slavery to an oil economy. But he also knows that incremental moves will not achieve the change that is called for by the current crisis.

The perfect storm in the world is created by the collision between finite oil and continued slavery to the notion of private automobiles. Both these forces create a dysfunctional society that eats away at the possibility of a humanity that is not itself profoundly dysfunctional.

At the center of what is dysfunctional is the suburb which is entirely subservient to the requirements of the car. The combined costs of the car, the detached house and the costs created by reliance on the automobile is indeed the origin of a permanent recession. This is why there has been no bounce-back in valuation of either cars or detached houses. In essence, these are becoming less and less marketable.

The solution to this conundrum would be simple enough if our vaunted designers and architects and planners could do what Wright failed to do — stop being naive about human nature and stop building the car into everything. In fact, eliminate the car from the areas where people live. And reintegrate into living areas all the institutions and services needed to create well-rounded lives.

The thought of Christopher Alexander and the constellation of ideas we associate with the phrase pattern language is the answer to the economic crisis which is at bottom not economic but evolutionary.


Seen differently. we are not in a permanent recession but in the throes of a move in the market away from what hurts us to what helps us. It is that simple. What helps us is not something we can buy with money but what we can earn by the application of common sense and some smarts to the problems we face.

barack obama

Big Government A Red Herring


This discussion could be dealt with in fewer words. Essentially the size of government is not an issue in an Obama Presidency. The President has no interest in this. Size does not matter.

Workability does. Does it work?

Government works big time when it builds mig projects like our highway system, the Ike contribution to big government. It works less well then it throws money into an already clogged drain of evil. That would be the prodigal big government of George W. Bush.

The current MSM discussion of  the stimulus neglects that we are not merely trying to get the economy moving, a huge and long term problem of mindset and values and priorities; we are also seeking to maintain and add jobs that have nothing to do with long term. We are in a sense trying to prop up things that largely do not work. To that extent the real winners in the recovery package are the elements that work against this result.


I am inclined to argue that the biggest need is for government to direct the private sector to work on the innovative elements of a genuinely new economy.

Actually, we are the government, so it is want we want that government can be.

Serving directly as needed,

resourcing as needed,

and being a catalyst as needed.

Big government is a red herring. Effective government is the big kahuna.


From Maddow to Yglezias

I have seen and read enough from these worthies. Both have the seeming House debacle wrong.

Rachel went into an extended umbrage session because Barack got not one vote for his pains. And Matthew does the same in this brief post from which comes this even briefer snippet:

The lesson I would hope the administration learns here is this: He needs to spend less time seeking political cover to mitigate the downside to possible policy failure, and more time trying to implement the best policies he can.


Fortunately, if you read the comments on this, there are plenty of readers who understand that this is a dance and that President Obama does not submarine his own intentions, though he may look as though he is doing just that. There is a sticky path to the final bill but neither Maddow nor Yglesias got beyond the BIG ZERO REPUBLICAN VOTE. They are supposed to be smarter than that.

This all goes back to my money pit-confidence issue. If anyone thinks this problem will be solved by getting people to buy more of the same old. they are whistling in the wind.

Think more infrastructure, more green, Senate bill, conference and President Obama honing a fail safe argument. And both Rachel and Matthew getting it right anon.