Democratic Hysteria

BERKELEY – In the political impasses that recently paralyzed the world’s two largest democracies, India and the United States, both countries’ usually clear-sighted leaders, to paraphrase William Butler Yeats, lacked all conviction, while the misguided and the shallow were full of passionate intensity. Indeed, that passion shows little sign of waning.

In the US, the economically illiterate, seeing misery all around from lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and the ever more apparent decline in America’s international status, are distilling their frenzy from obsolete advocates of fiscal rectitude, while clutching their Bibles and espousing a juvenile understanding of the US constitution. But their efforts are only digging a bigger hole for the US economy, making recovery much more difficult. Even their tax-averse sponsors, while appreciative of the rabble’s efforts to protect their wealth, are now fearful of the impact of these wayward ideas on the investment climate and equity prices.