Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are we French and Socialist?

The financial crisis has raised many issues. Two of the more pressing issues for some folks are our national and economic identities. Are we French, or American? Are we capitalists, or socialists?

Senator Richard Shelby, who used to be a Democrat and became a Republican, and who was and is from Alabama, wonders about our identity.

GOP's Shelby Leads Conservatives Against Bailout As a Republican, Mr. Shelby would normally be the one to defend a Republican president's policies. Instead, he's the leader of a mounting chorus of conservatives who think President George W. Bush has sold out conservative principles. "I think we're going down the road of France now," Mr. Shelby told one television interviewer Tuesday, before quickly adding, "in all due respect for my French friends."

With all due respect. Of course. Yet, just how salt-of-the-earth does the Senator remain?

The son of a Birmingham steelworker, Mr. Shelby, 74 years old, remains true to his Southern roots. At the same time, he has adapted to the culture of Washington, securing huge amounts of money for his state and developing a taste for opera, among other things. His wife is a professor at Georgetown University.

Just how true, and to what roots?

Another American is skeptical, even angry, about all this identity business. He made a bundle on Goldman Sachs stock, then got a bad taste about it, and is making his feeling known.

You would think that would count as a pretty good paycheck for the Houston energy trader. Instead, the experience left him so angry about the demise of capitalism that he says he has decided to spend his profits on advertisements attacking President George W. Bush's planned $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

His ad explaining his ire appeared in yesterday's NY Times.

"I see it as trickle-down communism," Mr. Perkins said. "We have a communist action where everybody is paying for the benefit of the few and hoping the benefits will trickle down to everyone else."

I thought that was Reaganomics. A, well.

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