Can Congress Level With The Public?

We all to some extent exist in separate realities. Normally they aren’t too different which allows us to co-exist with our neighbors. Every now and then they get radically out of line, communication becomes impossible and the state has to step in and control the party that has strayed too far from the norm. What happens when the irrational party is the state?

Listening to the House inquisition of the bankers today, there appears to be a complete disconnect from reality on the part of many in Congress. Time after time they berated the bankers about not lending enough money even though the bankers presented evidence to the contrary. Stories of constituents who were having trouble acquiring credit cards or mortgages or loans for this or that real estate project tumbled forth. If only the banks would start lending again these people could get on with their lives.

Unfortunately, none on the panel of bankers had the courage to lean forward towards their microphone and speak the truth to their accusers. Namely, that many of those who felt deprived of credit needed to face a new reality. Credit as they have come to know it is not going to be available henceforth. An old ethic about lending has been resurrected and that surely means that the credit addiction of the American public is going to have to be broken. The only way to do so is to withdraw the drug.

That this truth wasn’t spoken probably says less about the courage of the bankers than it does about their assessment of their questioners. They seemed to know that these leaders have not been able to transmit the facts of the fundamental change that has transpired in American commerce and so to undress them in full view of their constituents would be a fatal mistake. Nevertheless, sooner or later the new reality will have to be addressed.

Sometimes the act of leading encompasses more than simply delivering what those who have chosen you expect. It requires instead the transmission of news that might be less than what is desired. Now is one of those seminal moments when the people we have chosen to represent us must look their constituents in the eye and say that things have indeed changed. What they have come to take for granted will be no more and, therefore, their lives are going to be subject to change. Essentially, the news that the credit will be available on new and more restrictive terms, has to be delivered. Not only delivered but transmitted with the counsel that the prior regime was not supportable and the health of the Republic requires change.

Whether or not the mandarins that paraded on the television screen today are up to that task is problematic at best. I have my doubts as to their ability. I do not doubt that this reality is beyond their control and that either they do face up to that or they will be replaced by someone who will. I also do not doubt the ability of the American people to grasp the need for change and adapt.

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