The squirrels jump around in the lawn of the late afternoon and are (hopefully) oblivious to the fact that they are nut hunting and burying in the shade of the building which best symbolises the power of America, perhaps even more so than the White House. That is only the working office of the President. This is the seat of Congress. Where the course of America and all who sail in her is charted. Wandering past at the end of the business day with the setting sun luminescing the stone it was hard to imagine the storm inside as this government wrestles with what to do with the financial bailout planned for “Wall St.” Outside, the tourists pose in front of statues, parents play with their kids, the ubiquitous joggers jog and the office football teams play on the mall, at the foot of this monstrous building. I find it interesting that part of the bailout debate is now reduced to whether or not the government should, or even it it has the right to, intervene. There is a strong argument that presses for the so called Darwinian market forces to be allowed to play out, regardless of the consequences. The home of free wheeling market forces and “natural course capitalism” is now urging this mess to find its own level and play out as it comes. I am firmly in favour of intervention, for intervention is not about dollars but about leadership, and leadership is about inspiring confidence in the domestic US market as well as those markets impacted by the US. Which is pretty much everyone – though Europe and Japan seem to be nicely positioned to ride in and snap up bargains if the bailout does not go ahead. I suspect the idealists who advocate no intervention are not those who are going to find themselves homeless in downtown Baton Rouge or similar, or whose maize growing operation somewhere in Africa is going to be affected. Ultimately that is the responsibility of leadership – the well-being of the led. The human variable not the ideological one needs to be in the mind of the government and those considering intervention. Squirrels should be on their mind as well – not a bad example two days into Fall about not taking risks with things you do not own.
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