Well, I had to laugh just now reading tomorrow’s op-ed page, which contains this Paul Krugman column.
Paul Krugman is, according to his billing, an actual economist. Most of his columns might read as though they were written by a summer intern at the National Democratic Party — he is my nominee for Most Partisan Writer Currently Published in Major Newspapers. In fact, I had to double-check to make sure this column was actually written by Paul Krugman, since it did not blame anything whatsoever on George W. Bush. But it actually is a Krugman column. And he actually is an economist.
Anyway, the part of his column that grabbed me was this part:
The most important of these privileges is implicit: it’s the belief
of investors that if Fannie and Freddie are threatened with failure,
the federal government will come to their rescue.
guarantee means that profits are privatized but losses are socialized.
If Fannie and Freddie do well, their stockholders reap the benefits,
but if things go badly, Washington picks up the tab. Heads they win,
tails we lose.
Such one-way bets can encourage the taking of bad
risks, because the downside is someone else’s problem. The classic
example of how this can happen is the savings-and-loan crisis of the
1980s: S.& L. owners offered high interest rates to attract lots of
federally insured deposits, then essentially gambled with the money.
When many of their bets went bad, the feds ended up holding the bag.
The eventual cleanup cost taxpayers more than $100 billion.
Did you get that? "Someone else’s problem…" As you and I and Zaphod and Ford all know, there is a concept involved in the understanding of Bistromathics called "recipriversexclusons," and recipriversexclusons are essential in the generation of an SEP field, or "Somebody Else’s Problem" field. What’s that? Must I explain everything? Oh, all right:
"An SEP is something we can’t see, or don’t see, or our brain doesn’t
let us see, because we think that it’s somebody else’s problem…. The
brain just edits it out, it’s like a blind spot. If you look at it
directly you won’t see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your
only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye."
So there you have it. And if you can’t see what I’m saying, just blame it on the recipriversexclusons.