Belmont Club

Sing for change

The resemblance between these two videos is purely coincidental. Between events like this, promoted by a “grassroots” activist in suburban California …

And happy relaxation in places of entertainment in years past …

The Chinese character for “crisis” was inaccurately described as an amalgam of the concepts of “danger” and “opportunity”, but the characterization represents a useful way of thinking about critical points in history. The Depression provided the opportunity for the New Deal. Weimar created the setting for the rise of Hitler. Michael Scherer argues that the failure of the recent bailout proposal in Congresss indicates that the voters are no longer willing to trust politicians with their wallets or their futures. Nor are many willing to trust the financial professionals much either, after what has happened.  Rich Lowry quotes a former Lehman banker who says that a withdrawal of confidence sucks the oxygen out of the financial system.

Here’s the wider problem: the solvency of financial institutions, unlike that of industrial companies, doesn’t depend merely on their being able to generate cash flows sufficient to service their debt.  Their solvency requires that they maintain enough confidence among lenders, depositors and counterparties that these parties don’t lose faith, suddenly pull their money out all at once, and initiate a Lehman-style run.

But the loss of trust will not be universal.  In situations where complex and tough choices are put in front of an electorate that is alarmed, misinformed and in some cases confused, a certain number of people are going simply going to transfer their confidence from discredited professionals to someone who promises to “save” them.  Hope is what you sell to those in despair. It is understandable that some people want to “sing for change”. It may help if they bring a tin cup of pencils to sell along too. They may need the money in the end.

BTW, the original YouTube video was withdrawn from public sharing and the embedded video stopped working for a time, but someone has reposted it (HT Sobieski) and I’ve re-embedded. There may be a struggle to keep the video visible to the public in the coming days. Who could have foreseen it would be harder to keep a video criticizing Obama up than one criticizing Hitler?

Anyhow, here’s another video of children singing in the same vein.