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Griftopia and parenting

21 Mar

Griftopia front coverI recently finished reading Griftopia.  For those not familiar, be warned that it is a far left-leaning book that does contain the strong opinions of the author, a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.  Although I lean left in my politics, I still had to look past the some of the stronger sentiments of the writer to get to the central theme of this book-that various forces have come together to make our economy into one speculative bubble after another.  Tabbi does a great job of going over the bubbles of the past 20 years, including the housing, internet and commodity bubbles of the last decade.  The writing is intended to get you upset at the powers that are causing these wide fluctuations that result in huge money for those in power, but a huge amount of grief (to put it mildly) for those of us on the ground.

How in the world does this relate to parenting?  As a pediatrician and parent myself one of the points of emphasis in raising kids is that actions have consequences.  If you don’t try the new food on your plate, you may get hungry before it’s time to eat again.  It’s easy as a parent to see your kids hungry and give them a snack that you know they like, but it’s harder to help them to learn the lesson of trying new kinds of food.  Of course, I don’t advocate keeping your kids hungry, but on occasion pushing your kids comfort zone is needed.  I’ve seen many, many kids whose parents take the easy road and end up with children who will eat only a few items.  At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin there’s a specific 2-week program to help kids that are at the extremes of this scenario.  In a great number of instances it takes as long to train the parent in this skill as it does the kid!

The lesson was not missed when Taibbi discussed issues such as the financial crisis.  The very notion of “too big to fail” goes contrary to every action has a consequence.  Another example is our current political system.  The idea that we have elections every four years means that presidents (and other elected officials) have to prove their worth in the short term without regard for the long term consequences of actions.  In fact, by the time those negative consequences are realized the politician is out of office and onto a consulting job with a major company, often with astronomical salaries.  A similar situation is seen with large corporations, where you can simply replace the elections with quarterly reports.

Just as the bailout laid the pain of corporate bad deeds on the taxpayers, many other industries have put their consequences on the American majority.  The insurance companies often will get the federal government to claim areas ravaged by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like as disaster areas.  This means federal dollars have to support the clean up, absolving insurance companies of payments from their pockets as was seen in Katrina.

The political and financial ramifications of this are far-reaching, but once again, some of the most common sense, simplest rules in life are often the most powerful if not followed.

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Posted by on 03/21/2011 in Uncategorized

 

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