Magazine article The Nation

The F.M.: Fear Strikes the Soul

Magazine article The Nation

The F.M.: Fear Strikes the Soul

Article excerpt

The F.M.: Fear Strikes the Soul

One of the choicest moments in the enjoyable joint television appearance of the First Lady and the First Man came right at the start, when the F.M. said that much had been achieved in recent years, citing "economic recovery" by way of uplifting illustration. This came hot on the heels of a 141.03-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average the previous week.

i wonder how the F.M. reacts to the reports of chaos on the exchanges when he watches the evening news--assuming that he does watch it. At one level, far below the macadamed threshold of his consciousness, they must be disturbing to him, stimulating far from pleasant memories of his drunken father following the collapse of capitalism and his own fortunes in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Small wonder that the F.M. insists with such vehemence that it is morning again, despite all evidence to the contrary. It's as though he were still trying to prove to his dad it can't happen again.

But evidence that it's morning again is hard to come by. Over the past two years the average rate of growth in the United States has been less than 3 percent. The only positive sign recently has been the increase in car sales, with the introduction of low interest rates. If it weren't for military spending, mainly on the east and West coasts, the situation would be bleak indeed. Externally there's no sign that either West Germany or Japan has much interest in reflating to the point where it might become a locomotive for the world economy, as the United States was in Reagan's first term. …

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