Opinions: Fun, Fun, Fun, Until?

Well, here we are. Those halcyon days of the never-ending Internet economy have shriveled away and the secrets of the astronomical stock market records of the late 1990s have been revealed: inflated numbers, blind speculations, and accounting chicanery. Amidst current flurry of revelations, investigations, and editorial outrage, it is almost funny—if one forgets for a moment about the pension plans tied to Wall Street’s fortunes—to remember the wide-grinned celebration back when the Dow broke 10,000. Back then, naysayers and doom-peddlers were shooed away just as a jubilant guest might wave away a determined housefly.

But things are different now, or so it seems. The ongoing exposes of financial duplicity and the declines in retirement funds for middle- and working-class American have caused a sea change in the vernacular. Suddenly, even our “MBA President” seems unable to manage any kind of damage control. A new populism is breeding and those once-vaunted corporate executives—and, along with them, the notion of deregulated capitalism so much in vogue since the Reagan years—are looked upon with increased skepticism by wide swaths of the American public. Perhaps this is inevitable: those rich guys sure do look bad when you realize they got rich with your pension.

Over the past two decades, both of the major political parties have comfortably embraced the neo-liberal/neo-conservative nostrums that market deregulation is the key to all success and that corporate America can regulate itself. This era appears to be sputtering to an end. Yet will it be replaced by a period of genuine reform, marked by real public oversight and accountability? Like WorldCom stocks, talk of such changes is cheap. Out of the crisis a new populism is being born, and its adherents demand action.

The Fall Election Season

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More Editorial Notes

It is the Rail’s policy to conjoin articles by two or more using “and,” then list the names in alphabetical order. This practice assumes equal input on the part of the writers. In cases where there is a, say, 60-40 or more ratio in terms of input, we prefer to use “with.” Our use of “and” and in the last issue posed a problem, as we credited Christian Parenti and Heather Rogers equally with for the feature article, “The Politics of Garbage.” Actually, the byline should have read “Heather Rogers, with Christian Parenti.” However, it does appear, judging by the duo’s willingness to become Rail contributing editors, that both parties have forgiven us. And, of course, we are delighted to have them on-board.

Less happily, we must announce the departure of our durable city columnist Jonas Selagnik, who has moved to Baltimore due to job promotion. His rare ability to combine pugnacious opinions with butter prose will be sorely missed. We wish him swell. Meanwhile, though it may be too early to tell at this point, an eventual successor to—sometime in the late 2020s—may be Pep Humberto Viveros-Johnson. In the meantime, he is a most welcome addition to the Rail’s junior staff.

One More Thing

In the spirit of democracy, we invite responses to each and every piece published in the Brooklyn Rail. Write a letter, cook up a longer response, send it by courier pigeon—we’re here to start discussions, not end them. Thank you.

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