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Price Tag and Myopic Vision: It’s always darkest before Dawn

This year has been filled with significant surprises.  Most people believe they have all been negative, but I disagree.  There has been lots of disappointments but a great deal of good has transpired as well.

My biggest surprise is that I have found my most useful philosopher of the year to be an up and coming R &B soul artist from Britain named Jessica Ellen Cornish.  Those of you in the know realize that her stage name is Jessie J.  Her hit of the year that popped her to the top of the charts and a guest shot on SNL is “Price Tag”.

Most kids know the song from the refrain, “It’s not about the money, money, money…..we don’t need your money, money, money.  The lyrics that caught my attention however were:

           Why is everybody so serious, Acting so damn Mysterious

           Your got your shades on your eyes and your heels so high

           That you can’t even have a good time,

           Everybody look to their left…Everybody look to their right

           Can you feel that , Yeah! We’ll pay them with love tonight


When we watch what’s going on in Washington, we get depressed.  They’re acting mysterious and serious, and we surely aren’t having a good time.  But maybe we should look to the left and look to the right.   We also need to take a look back to what our expectations were a year ago.


When you look to the left you see a nation where the vast majority of the people are healthy.  Some need healthcare that don’t have it.  Most people are well fed.  Some people need help feeding their family, but in general, they are helped by the most generous,  philanthropic and charitable population in the history of the world.   Go around the world and see how many places you find that staff and pay for food banks without any government support. 


When you look to the right,  you see a country that projects more military power than the rest of the world combined.  Our shores are safe.  We need to be vigilant in the war on terror and we need to support our troops that are in harm’s way, but it probably makes little sense to be the unilaterally anointed policeman of the world. 


You also see a nation where the right to disagree is sacrosanct.  People can do whatever they want, every day.  They can believe whatever they want,  and they are free to pull themselves by their bootstraps from wherever they are to the most successful stations. 


A world of daily financial market tv coverage has led us all to be myopic.  We only focus on today’s developments, but put into the context of the last few years, a lot is accomplished.

One year ago mention of social security or Medicare reform was universally considered the

third rail of politics.  Now we have evolved to a position where it’s just a matter of how much we will reform entitlements.  Republicans would not consider any tax reform, now they still don’t want to raise taxes, but eliminating loop holes to generate more revenue is on the table within the context of lower marginal rates. 


It’s a convenient context to compare what’s happening in the U.S. to Greece.  The bond vigilantes could attack the U.S. shores.  They could, but really now, the largest economy in the world coming out of the biggest recession since the depression has managed to deliver better than expected earnings for seven quarters in a row.  We are taking on our biggest problems head-on.  The way we make sausage in Washington is ugly and depressing, but it just happens to work better than any other system ever practiced in the history of the world.  We will look back in a few years and see that by growth and our actions we have topped off our debt and headed in the right direction. 


Does this seem like we have turned into a theme park and are going to hell in a hand basket?   I don’t think so,  and it’s always the darkest immediately before dawn. 


Dawn is coming, soon.










                                                                                                                                        Fred Fraenkel