Três reportagens e uma questão pendente

Para o pessoal que lê em inglês.

Primeiro, esta matéria da Rolling Stone, do Matt Taibi, sobre a AIG e o Bail-Out. Lembrando sempre, o Matt Taibi um dia acordou e decidiu que ia tentar ser o Hunter Thompson. Ele tem falhado sistematicamente nesta missão.

“But wait a minute,” you say to them. “No one ever asked you to stay up all night eight days a week trying to get filthy rich shorting what’s left of the American auto industry or selling $600 billion in toxic, irredeemable mortgages to ex-strippers on work release and Taco Bell clerks. Actually, come to think of it, why are we even giving taxpayer money to you people? Why are we not throwing your ass in jail instead?”

But before you even finish saying that, they’re rolling their eyes, because You Don’t Get It. These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they’re on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.

O resto tu lê aqui.

E esta matéria sobre a postura da Europa diante da crise, e da “safety net” que as políticas sociais européias podem estar representando:

To begin with, the biggest European countries, which have the most influence on policy, have not been crushed by this recession. In countries like Ireland and Spain, where huge housing bubbles burst, the devastation has been immense. But in Germany, where there was no bubble, fewer people are struggling with debt or watching their wealth go up in smoke. To be sure, Germany’s economy, which is heavily dependent on exports, is not in good shape; it looks set to shrink more this year than the U.S. economy. But the unemployment rate in Germany has risen much less than it has here. Indeed, in most of Europe job losses have been less severe, in part because unemployment was already quite high. The U.S. unemployment rate has risen nearly three percentage points since January, 2008. Europe’s is up barely one per cent.

In addition, since most European countries have an elaborate social safety net, a recession has a less dramatic impact on people’s daily lives. In the U.S., unemployment insurance pays relatively little and runs out relatively quickly, so losing a job usually means a precipitous decline in income. In European countries, unemployment benefits are typically substantial and long-lasting. This is not entirely a plus—it probably makes unemployment higher than it otherwise would be—but in hard times it keeps money in people’s pockets. (And paying for it means that European government spending automatically rises quite a bit during recessions.) Furthermore, universal health care enables Europeans to see a doctor even if they’re out of work.

None of this means that Europeans are indifferent to recessions or unemployment. But it does reduce the pressure to get their economies moving again at any cost. Furthermore, there seems to be an underlying difference in psychology. Americans talk a good game about the need for balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, but we’ve proved ourselves happy to borrow trillions in order to maintain our life styles. And, while Americans hate inflation, they love economic growth more: the Federal Reserve’s mission is not just to fight inflation but also to maximize employment. Europe runs a much tighter ship: if an E.U. member has a deficit of greater than three per cent of G.D.P., it’s subject to disciplinary action. And the European Central Bank has only one mandate: keep inflation low.

Matéria altamente recomendável, por sinal. Dá uma dimensão da diferença entre o modelo não-regulamentado que foi estabelecido nos Estados Unidos, e o modelo regulamentado, na Europa. Interessantíssimo.

Ainda na New Yorker, outra matéria sobre economia. Desta vez sobre o que está em jogo nesta crise, e como Obama pode olhar para alguns dos exemplos do F.D.R.

The problem with the budget isn’t its size or its underlying philosophy, which is one of pragmatic progressivism. The problem is that unless the deterioration of the economy stops, the Administration’s ambitious multiyear plans could end up being purely symbolic. Last week, businesses across the country were shedding workers and sales at frightening rates: General Motors sales are half what they were this time last year; sales at Saks have dropped by a quarter. On Wall Street, A.I.G. revealed new losses of more than sixty billion dollars, the Dow dipped toward 6,500, and Citigroup stock traded for less than a dollar a share. If you haven’t looked at your 401(k) statement lately, this is not the moment to get brave.

Aqui, na íntegra.

Finalmente, uma reportagem para a qual eu quero dar mais atenção no futuro, sobre se a idéia da punição da prisão solitária constitui tortura. Em uma descrisção digna do Vigiar e Punir, Atul Gawande escreve:

He missed people terribly, especially his fiancée and his family. He was despondent and depressed. Then, with time, he began to feel something more. He felt himself disintegrating. It was as if his brain were grinding down. A month into his confinement, he recalled in his memoir, “The mind is a blank. Jesus, I always thought I was smart. Where are all the things I learned, the books I read, the poems I memorized? There’s nothing there, just a formless, gray-black misery. My mind’s gone dead. God, help me.”

He was stiff from lying in bed day and night, yet tired all the time. He dozed off and on constantly, sleeping twelve hours a day. He craved activity of almost any kind. He would watch the daylight wax and wane on the ceiling, or roaches creep slowly up the wall. He had a Bible and tried to read, but he often found that he lacked the concentration to do so. He observed himself becoming neurotically possessive about his little space, at times putting his life in jeopardy by flying into a rage if a guard happened to step on his bed. He brooded incessantly, thinking back on all the mistakes he’d made in life, his regrets, his offenses against God and family.

His captors moved him every few months. For unpredictable stretches of time, he was granted the salvation of a companion—sometimes he shared a cell with as many as four other hostages—and he noticed that his thinking recovered rapidly when this occurred. He could read and concentrate longer, avoid hallucinations, and better control his emotions. “I would rather have had the worst companion than no companion at all,” he noted.

Este artigo é meio que leitura obrigatória.

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