November 24, 2008

All my economists say, "On the one hand ... and on the other hand ..." Someone give me a one-handed economist!
- Harry S. Truman

I must admit, I am very curious how this inauguration will play out. For security reasons president-elect Barack Obama will no longer be allowed to walk, of course; but in times of crisis, presidents used to chose something much more austere than what we have seen in recent years.

The growing financial crisis has forced president-elect Barack Obama into the classic dilemma faced by all neocracies swept into power on a platform of change. On the one hand, he can choose to sweep the rafters clean, bring in entirely new people who will certainly have such academic knowledge of economic mechanics as are compatible with a country's founding ideology, but they will be utterly ignorant of what it means to wield such power and of the ways of political manoeuvring. On the other, he can bring in people who are familiar with the politics and the power ... but then where is the change?

Given the five to ten years which lie ahead of us, we can hope that his leadership will be up to the opening scenes of this test. It is in darkest crisis that greatness and inadequacy both blaze most brilliantly.

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