I’ve been getting some comments along the lines that I failed to see the Internet bubble, with the implication that I only see bad things when Republicans are in office.
Ahem. I was quite clear about that bubble, too. Here’s a piece I wrote back in 1998 that I’m still fairly proud of. Also, I was a big fan of Shiller’s work on irrational exuberance, and promoted it in the Times.
Maybe Bob Metcalf was, because he was writing about it in Infoworld back then, and was looking at P/Es, which was about the first time I ever heard of phantom stocks too. The point being I suppose is that there were a lot of people calling that bubble a bubble and advising readers to bail.
So this last graph sticks out,
Actually, the political battle lines on the late-90s bubble were much the same as those on the housing bubble that followed. The WSJ insisted that it all made sense; it promoted “Dow 36,000″; it even, if memory serves, published editorials to the effect that if you don’t believe in current stock prices you must hate capitalism.
That WSJ hue and cry was repeated time after time, not only in economics, but in the lead up to various wars that have since proven to be the greatest strategic errors in American history, which one would not assume to be the case if the surges were working and Iraq wasn’t an Iranian satellite.
The very people that have proven to be wrong, and egregiously so, continue to hold positions of influence and power, both in the sphere of public opinion, and consequently in the world of real politic.
Just so no one thinks that I’m tooting my own horn here, I made decisions, and public statements on all of these matters not from any great insights on my part, or ideological bent to oppose the establishment just because it was there. That’s very romantic, but not very accurate.
There are some people that convince themselves of certain ideas that no matter what sort of evidence is presented to the contrary, will adhere to those ideas as though their lives depended on it, and no argument or persuasion can be presented to change their minds and positions on any given issue.
Those of us that hold to the Christian faith encounter this sort of thinking and reasoning in fundamentalists all of the time. The creation is six thousand years old in a universe that is over twelve billion years old. It is this mind set that burns heretics at the stake, since it is easier to that and rationalize that behavior as doing the Lord’s work than it is in actually doing the Lord’s work. If one may burn one or two for the glory of God, one might burn an entire tribe, caste, people or religion without a tinge of guilt.
History doesn’t repeat itself so much as head strong self assureds continue doing the same stupid things over and over again. Those who would never think to murder, slaughter by the thousands, as the old saw about a man who manufactured a product for a dollar and sold it for ninety nine cents on the premise he would make it up in volume.
In some sense it must be necessary to the greater bulk of men to know that they are standing on firm ground, that all they have been taught, and discerned from those teachings are firm and solid truths. It is an anchorage in the storm between the infinities. That we will be one hour after death where we were one hour before birth is a disconcerting concept. It is to ponder the greatest of non-existences, ones own.
On an intellectual level it isn’t any more profound than contemplating one hand clapping, or an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. Anything deeper than that however is to heavy a burden to carry, so the load is deposited on the shoulders of God to carry. It allows the carrying on of life and death unexamined. It also robs them of the weight and permanence they deserve. If one cannot contemplate the weight of their own life, they are in no position to contemplate and weigh the life of anyone else. The mass of mankind is a water spider on its own existence, no more aware of their own existence than the water spider is of its’ own.
Wholly unaware of Einsteins physics until a little over a century ago, the universe mankind inhabits still operated by those physical laws. The world was spherical before mankind discovered it was so. The Earth orbited the sun, the sun the galactic center, all without a single thought of a single man being necessary. No matter how much we eventually learn about our universe, we will not alter one tick of time of what is.
Some will go to great lengths to discover what that ticking is, what is occurring between those ticks, how space is unfolding matter and matter time, and yet no discovery will alter that progression. It is no big thing for the universe to unfold as it is unfolding, and it is no big thing to understand how and why it is unfolding as it does. It is not important to understand how life came to be on Earth, or how it can come to be extinct. It does not matter how man came to be, how the first tribes survived and grew and expanded to fill the Earth with human beings and it doesn’t matter where they were before they came to be and where they go when they cease to be. Nothing you can ever do, or say, or write will ever matter to anyone living, dead, or yet to come to be living and to die. Hold on to your flat earth, for it is all that you have.