The Overton Window: Chapter 20
As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Ken for filling in the backstory:
1913 is code. Founding of the Federal Reserve Bank, so that (1) J. P.Morgan didn't have to bail out the entire country by himself again or (2) things wouldn't get so bad we would have to depend on J. P. Morgan bailing out the country again. It "takes away freedom" and is always mentioned by some idiot econ major (but I repeat myself) as the Real Cause of Anything That Ever Goes Wrong.
Why does everyone blame "weather derivatives" on Enron? We were trying to get them going in the early 1990s, long before Andy Fastow owned 1/3 of the State of Colorado. And while they're moderately useful for farmers (as a proxy for crop yield expectations) they're a major aid to insurance companies with exposure in areas of severe weather (think hurricanes or tsunamis*). Even with ReInsurance having grown so much, an insurance company that has to pay out what the buyers think it's policies covered for a Katrina is not in a great competitive situation. And it would have produced a much better result for the victims than the "well, the water only did a little damage, it was the winds that caused most of the destruction" defense that was used successfully by some of those insurers.
Don't get me started on cap-and-trade, save to say that if the cap in question were to be directed at several Supreme Court justices, air would be better.
*Flash flooding and the like are possible areas, but the hedging cost is probably a rounding error.
You know, I have a lot of background knowledge of random conspiracy theories and pseudoscience but, as I've admitted before, I just can't know about all of them. So bless you, Ken, for stepping into the gap with your knowledge of federal reserve related wing-nuttery. It helps, it really does. Besides, any time I can learn something as a result- however indirect- of reading The Overton Window, I really have to be grateful. Thanks, and keep at it, folks. We have a LOT of chapters yet to go.
And, with that, let's begin! As always, page/line numbers are in bold, quotes from the book are in block quotes, my commentary is in regular print, and you can navigate the whole series with the provided tag. My footnotes use the traditional star system (e.g. *, **, etc) while references included in the Afterword to the book are noted with numbered parenthetical tags (e.g. (1), (2), etc.). It was a one-eyed one-horned flying purple will-to-live eater!
Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by two monkeys playing Russian roulette with a machine gun.
Eli Churchill: Former janitor at a volcano lair. Fan of remote telephone booths. Shot in the head by parties unknown.
Beverly Emerson: Mysterious correspondent of Eli Churchill's. Molly's mother.
Noah Gardener: 28 years old. Sets the dating bar "medium-high".
Molly "Hottie McPretty" Ross: Dresses like a hippie, but not really. Looks like a free spirit. Perfectly captures the essence of womanhood. Auburn hair. Green eyes. Pale skin. Has a tattoo on her chest. Wears a silver cross around her neck. Lost her father when she was young. Impressed by fancy cars. Cocktease. Possibly suffering from bipolar disorder.
Arthur Gardner Noah's father. Owner of Doyle & Merchant. Megalomaniac. Surprisingly vigorous for a 74 year old man. Really good at power point.
Khaled: Lebanese cab driver. Sold out by Noah Gardener.
Hollis: Friend of Molly Ross. Very polite. From the country. May be a Yeti.
Danny Bailey: Some kind of YouTube celebrity. Former lover of Molly Ross. Kind of a dickhead. Loves conspiracy theories and incoherent speeches. Sodomized by inmates following the rally. Once dressed up as Colonel Sanders to infiltrate the United Nations.
Stuart Kearns: FBI agent. Works on homeland security matters. Kinda old and wrinkly.
Chapter 20: In which Noah and Molly talk very briefly.
Recommended Mood Music:
Page 152, Line 1-2:
Outside the skies were still threatening, and to accompany the frigid light rain a wicked crosstown breeze had begun to blow.
Wow! Before penning this sentence one or more of the authors must have read a chapter titled "Using the environment to set the tone" in their barely-used copy of "Novel Writing for Dummies". I'm actually pleased to see some minimally competent writing. Finally. And what does it mean to say that the skies are threatening if it is, in fact, already raining? What are they threatening, fire and brimstone? Eh, whatever. In a way I guess I'm glad to see the authors making an effort to describe something, but I'd be even happier if they made the effort to provide even the slimmest of descriptions of what Noah looks like. Anyway, Noah and Molly hail a cab and pile in.
Page 152, Line 8-11:
"Ninth Street and Avenue B, by Tompkins Square Park," Noah said. "And do us a favor," he added, passing through enough of a tip to make his point. "We're not in a rush, so just take it really, really easy, understand?"
Oh, good! A break from all the action to take care of a little exposition. Just what we need! And for anyone who is curious, they're headed right about... here. I guess they have a dog they need to exercise? Leaving that aside, they pull away and drive around very slowly, Molly stares silently out the window, and Noah tells her that there's no reason to believe that the plan outlined in his father's loony power point will happen any time soon.
Page 153, Line 6-13:
She shook her head. "It's happening now."
"How do you know that?"
"Because I can see it. The economy is crashing, Noah. There's no net underneath it this time. That's why they're rushing through all this stimulus nonsense, both parties. All the cockroaches are coming out of the woodwork to grab what they still can. It's a heist in broad daylight, and they don't even care who sees it anymore. That's how I know."
Yeah. What do you even do with that? There's room for debate on policy and there are definitely questions about how wise portions of the stimulus were. We should also, however, have a keen awareness that if you let too many banks fail and too many people lose their jobs at once, a bad recession can become a depression. Given that, what would even high minded public servants do? Tell major institutions to suck it, or try desperately to salvage the situation?
Page 153, Line 14-21:
"They've doubled the national debt since 2000 (1)*, and now with these bailouts, all those trillions of dollars more- that's our future they just stole, right in front of our eyes. They didn't even pretend to use that money to pay for anything real, most of it went offshore (2) (3). They didn't help any real people; they just paid themselves and covered their gambling debts on Wall Street." She looked at him. "You asked how I know it's happening now? Because the last official act of any government is to loot their own treasury."
Okay, Noah, here's what you're going to do: you're going to turn to Molly, put a hand on each of her shoulders, and ask her very calmly, "Molly, who the f-ing crap are 'they'?" Now focus, focus! You can do this!
Page 153, Line 22-23:
He couldn't think of a thing to counter that, at least nothing that either one of them would believe.
Damnit, damnit, goddamnit! Sigh. Noah, he's such a brilliant boy, eh? But, brilliant or not, he decides to follow up with an indecent proposal.
Page 153, Line 26-30:
"And look, I'm [Noah] not talking about any commitment you have to make, or a relationship, or whatever, I know we just met so let's take all that out of the picture and not worry about it right now. I'm just telling you that I'll help you, you and your mom, no strings attached."
"Yeah, I mean, when the economy crashes you and your mom can come live in my apartment, cook me bacon, do my laundry and, you know, when the time is right, cuddle the hell out of me. And, you know, maybe I can touch one of your boobs sometime? Please?" Honestly, I don't know what's worse: the offer that pretty much inevitably leads somewhere sleazy, or my bedrock certainty that Noah still couldn't close the deal. Regardless, Molly refuses, but Noah tells her to think about it since this "thing" won't hit everyone the same, and he reckons people like him will get off easy.
Page 154, Line 7-9:
"You're wrong- you won't be okay. No one will. If they accomplish half of what we saw on those screens then money won't protect you. Nothing will."
All I have to say is: that was apparently one f-ing ominous power point they watched in there. Just... damn.
Page 154, Line 10-15:
She turned her attention back to the window and the dark, blustery night beyond the glass.
After a time her clasp on his hand tightened for a few seconds, but it didn't really feel like affection. It was more like the grip a person might take on the arm of the dentist's chair, or the gesture of unspoken things an old love might extend at the end of a long good-bye.
Aaaaand what the hell was that? It was like how you say goodbye to an old love or it was like how you grip a chair while some dude scrapes your teeth with a metal spike? Are those grips even remotely similar to each other? As analogies go, it's better than the weird incest analogy from a few chapters ago (Page 56, Line 5-8), but it still registers as some major whatthefuckery.
But, weird or not, it's also the last lines of the chapter. And yes, that means that the "chapter" began on page 152 and ended on page 154. Hell, it began at the middle of page 152 and ended at the middle of page 154, so it was basically two pages long. And why the hell was it even included? So we could see them react? Did we need to see them react in a damn cab? This is the worst book ever. And with that endorsement, come back next time when finally- finally- Noah gets a small bit of what's coming to him.
It'll be fun!
* I feel compelled to point out that the article the authors reference has a big picture of Obama and the headline that the debt is up $2 trillion on Obama's watch. But, and here's the thing, Obama hasn't been President since 2000. Gosh, who was president from 2000 to 2008 or so? Granted, in this book the authors aren't shy about making a show of blaming both parties, but they're less genuine than we might like.
Labels: The Overton Window