Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Amalia Negreponti Headshot

The Glass Wall, 50 Years After JFK

Posted: Updated:

When residing in the U.S., an aspiring but not yet permanent resident, the first crucial step to acquiring the American-ness I have come to love and desire -- you find yourself caught up "between worlds." No longer part of the world you came from, neither however are you -- officially at least -- yet part of the world you fell in love with and came to, the U.S. So you become more sensitized to the world around you, more observant to the people and situations that usually do not register in your consciousness, sometimes slipping past entirely unnoticed.

A simple example: any given day just take a walk down Broadway -- it doesn't need to be in the not-so-affluent nether regions of the city below midtown, or west Harlem -- its pavements are peppered with homeless people. Two things stand out: how young or old they are; and how they are immersed in books -- either reading, and/or peddling them. They sit quietly on the pavements, demanding nothing, expecting nothing, probably not hoping for anything any more, inured to despair encapsulated in that all-too-convenient Western rendition of karma "It is what it is." Through them weave the successful of this city: seemingly untouchable and impermeable suave men, and women so perfect it's kind of scary; girls, no more than 25 or so, sporting diamond rings of the kind you estimate as a percentage of my homeland's GDP and spouting unintelligible gab about futures, and IPOs and fluctuations in bonds of companies only for the financial cognoscenti.

Seeing all this, aside from you feeling a fool -- and useless to boot -- evokes what Norman Mailer's described in the Presidential Papers, when referring to the time when Kennedy came to power: the "fissure in the national psyche," a divide between two worlds co-existent in America, always parallel, never colliding or contacting -- the "official" America, and that of the "inner life of the U.S." Nowadays, 50 years after President Kennedy's assassination, the two worlds are that of that the increasing majority of impoverished former middle-class, as well as the have-nots; and that of the big-time behemoths of our social and political establishment in their penthouses and mansions. The glass wall between the two seems impermeable, unbreakable, yet both these universes are intimately linked, sometimes through cause and effect, others through sheer randomness; yet one single rock can suffice to bring the wall down, shatteringly revealing us all to be inhabitants of the one same, interchangeable world.

Well, recently reading a book called The Age of Oversupply (Portfolio/Penguin) I got the feeling its author, Daniel Alpert, was one of the few who both care and are in a position to actually get actively involved in solving this problem those supposed to be solving, don't seem to. Not as a politician though, nor as a financier gone philanthropist. Starting out as an investment banker, he is now one of the country's foremost economic thinkers writers and commentators and a Fellow of the Century Foundation. Featured in the 2010 winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Inside Job which tells the story of the 2008 global financial crisis, he is also a founder of the World Economic Roundtable program of the New America Foundation -- its board includes Google exec Eric Schmidt, former Presidential Adviser Anne-Marie Slaughter, and many illustrious others. In 2011, Alpert conceived of, and co-authored a white paper entitled "The Way Forward" universally credited with providing a clear and concise explanation of the issues that gave rise to the global financial crisis.

His book proves even more enlightening. Alpert manages to prove how "economic enfranchisement is key to maintaining stable, democratic governance... ultimately the best ensurer of private-property rights and the rule of law," rights the rich, the poor, as well as the middle class all desire, need, and should have in stable constitutional democracies. Managing to combine bashing the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, politicians' procrastination, and the "too big to fail" financial organizations whose risk-taking almost threw us into global havoc in 2008 and "inflicted great suffering on people who had nothing to do with the reckless borrowing, both private and public," he reveals the endless ramifications of inaction on changing financial policies, domestically and throughout the world: from the Newtown Connecticut massacre, to spiking suicide rates in Greece and the rest of Europe, and the rise of extremism. This guy seems to provide credible, "common sense" solutions that even our two parties in Congress and Senate, would be hard-pressed to disagree about!