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Neil McCarthy

Posted April 3, 2009 | 12:47 PM (EST)

Sounds of Silence


I have not written a blogpost in almost two months.

A cousin in Colorado wondered if all was well. She was used to receiving my monthly (or, during the recent election, weekly) missives and thought something might be wrong. I told her everything was fine and filled her in on some family news.

Another friend mentioned that he, too, had gone to the blog recently and had seen nothing since early February. He was worried that I would "lose my audience." With his finger on the pulse of 21st century internet based media, he issued a dire warning. "If you want to get hits, you have to do it all the time. Good bloggers blog every day. And theirs are shorter than yours." Translated for my 20th century literary based mind, "get hits" is a synonym for having been "read," and "good bloggers" are those who, tautologically speaking, "get hits." On his view, reading appears to be more or less beside the point. A "hit", I have learned, is anyone who accesses the blog, whether or not they actually read it. Shorter appears to be better because it merely increases the chances that some of the "hitters", as it were. will also turn out to be readers.

What's a neophyte blogger to do?

I told my cousin I had not written anything lately because I was still trying to get a bead on what is going on in the economy. Said I: "The whole banking plan is very complicated and I am not quite sure I understand it yet." Said she (tongue firmly planted in cheek): "You mean you actually want to understand what is happening before you write about it?"

But this is not a laughing matter.

Bloggers (and others) are weighing in en masse on the Obama-Geithner plan to create a public-private partnership to begin purchasing the so-called toxic assets, largely mortgage backed securities which are not trading anymore (and thus can't really be priced) along with those killer credit default swaps and options that piled leverage on top of the way overly leveraged mortgage backed securities. No one really knows whether the plan will work (except Paul Krugman, who -- for reasons I do not understand -- pretty much says it won't, and Tim Geithner, who -- for reasons I very much understand -- does not promise it will but is officially reduced to the position that it has to).

I don't know either.

And so have been reduced to silence.

Which is another word for "thinking".

Along with the other "weigher-inners", I could break my studied silence and take a position. As far as I can tell, that would not really require "weighing in" on the actual economic effects of the plan. Instead, I would just need to make some aphoristically cute atmospheric point. Like . . .

Why is the President doing a town hall meeting in California when he should be 24/7 on the banking plan? Or . . .

Why is the President talking about universal health care, or universal pre-k, or -- frankly -- universal anything, when the universe's entire foundation (aka the banking system) is not functioning? Or . . .

Why didn't Geithner or Obama know about those AIG bonuses, and anyway how will we stop them, which has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the banking plan will actually work but otherwise satisfies a "weigher-inner's" felt urge to say something that appears to be related even if it isn't? Or . . .

What's the point of passing a back to the '70s larded by liberals' budget that raises taxes and refuses to delay on-going green and a whole host of Democratic platform planks which will just balloon the deficit, when we are already committed to ballooning the deficit to bail out the bankers and hedge funders (and, just for edge and moral superiority, those AIG bonus babies)?

Or I could just say nothing.

And keep thinking.

I won't get any "hits" this way.

But my cousin in Colorado still loves me.