John Colson: Hit and Run | AspenTimes.com

John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly

Question: When is a worldwide economic train wreck a good thing?

Answer: If it wakes us all up to the fact that letting a bunch of greedy hustlers and fatback lawyers run the world without any oversight whatsoever is a bad thing.

And the good news is that we may have just that kind of scenario developing here. We’ve elected our first black president who also is the first president we’ve had in at least eight years with a brain of his own. And two of his cabinet picks happen to be people who have shown remarkable common sense in two particular areas that I happen to view as key to our global future ” health care and the legalization of marijuana.

Which, by the way, are not unconnected issues, at least not in my view.

But first, let us recap.

Wall Street and the world’s banking system quickly tanked when a couple of million mortgages came due and defaulted, owing to the highly predictable fact that the mortgages were ripoffs in the first place based on promises no one could keep.

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First the U.S. government went into panic mode, cobbling together the biggest single bit of socialistic economic engineering since the New Deal, and set about rescuing the high fliers and low dealers on Wall Street.

Then the whole world discovered that, fiscally speaking, it had jumped into bed with the greedheads who built this shaky financial house of cards, snatching up risky investments in a bid to cash in quick, which turned out to be a very bad idea.

So it turned out that the entire world economy was in danger of hanging out a “TILT” sign because the tentacles of the subprime mortgage mess were so deeply enmeshed into everything, everywhere.

Next, with a communal shrug of the shoulders and display of realism that it rarely shows, the U.S. electorate put Barack Obama in charge of fixing this mess ” along with a few other intractable crises.

And now that rascally Obama has been plucking stars from the political firmament to take up spots at his cabinet table that, in a couple of cases, have actually made some sense, at least to me.

Bill Richardson, for example, to head the Commerce Department. As governor of New Mexico, he not only has shown more wisdom than most on the immigration issue, but he also has pushed for the legalization of marijuana, potentially the wisest move this country could make on so many fronts they can’t be counted.

From reduction of criminal “justice” budgets at every level of government, to making use of the hemp plant in countless industrial applications, to providing inexpensive, effective and non-addictive medicinal herb to patients suffering from numerous ailments, this is a move that would be nothing but smart. It could help reduce our dependence on foreign oil (hemp oil is a great lubricant), cut the national debt by saving money on law enforcement and making room in our prisons for those who truly deserve to be there, and so much more.

On another, but not entirely unrelated front, Tom Daschle is a good pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, for his support of universal health care as a priority of the Obama administration. Note that I didn’t use the phrase, “universal health care COVERAGE,” which is just another way of saying we should leave our health care system in the hands of the insurance companies, who have done such a good job they should be rewarded with endless and obscene profits at the expense of everybody’s health.

Nope, the only way to go is with universal health care, which could mean many things but which at its core means that health care would no longer be simply another commodity. It would actually be a service, rendered by the same bunch of doctors and nurses and hospitals, but with common-sense limitations on costs and a payment system that would take health care decisions out of the hands of secretaries in high rises and put them back into your hands.

So, as I started out to say, this economic meltdown may turn out to be the best thing that’s happened to the world in a long time, notwithstanding a little temporary pain on the part of a lot of people who really don’t deserve it but probably will come out all right.

At least that’s the way it looks from here, right now. More, later.

jcolson@aspentimes.com

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