You know times are hard when Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is dragged in front of a House committee and forced to admit previous trangressions, like some old Bolshevik at a Stalinist show trial. On October 23, Greenspan told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he had loved too deeply, held too close to his wizened old man-bosom (I’m paraphrasing here), his belief in the power of the free market to self-correct. “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief,” he said.
Greenspan, bless his heart, still managed to put in a good word for the free market, suggesting that it would turn itself around. “Whatever regulatory changes are made, they will pale in comparison to the change already evident in today’s markets,” he said. “Those markets, for an indefinite future, will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime.”
Now, I’m no economist, but I wonder if Greenspan, at 82, hasn’t gotten a touch senile. Was he not paying attention to government’s helping hand in the growth of capitalism in the last hundred years? Alan, baby: There is no such thing as a free market. The government, since the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933 following the bank panics of the early 20th century, has explicitly (as in the case of the FDIC) and implicitly (as in the case of Greenspan’s decision to keep interest rates low throughout the final years of his Fed chairmanship) guaranteed this country’s business sector. The recent bailout of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, and AIG merely underscores, again, the government’s role as ultimate guarantor in our economy. Last I checked, that’s not free market capitalism.
Now that Greenspan, once Washington’s economic Svengali, has been run out of town on a rail, the writing—or blood splatter and bullet holes—is on the wall: Panic! What many businesspeople don’t realize, however, is that a recession is the perfect time to expand their business. That’s why the forward thinking board of directors at Luminary Publishing (Chronogram’s evil corporate overlord), has directed me to cook up ideas for new magazines suited to this climate of economic turmoil. Allow me to sketch out some titles you might be seeing on the newsstand in 2009:
In these troubled times, we’re all looking for assurance. We all want security. We crave information from a source we can trust. Look no further than End Times. Each month our staff of pessimistic prognosticators, bleak forecasters, and paranoiacs will chart the path of impending doom with diligence and insouciance. Admit it: The end is nigh. Subscribe today and we’ll even send you a placard that says so. Better hurry, your first issue could be your last!
(This title should not be confused with the already existing Endtime magazine, “one of the most widely circulated biblical prophecy magazines in the world.” Recent articles from Endtime include “Will the Real Antichrist Please Stand Up?” and “The Good Side of Armageddon.”)
Ease the pain of life in reduced circumstances with this monthly primer on transforming your garage into an alchemical miracle factory. Did you know that you can make vodka from just about anything fermentable? Recipes guaranteed against blindness!
Mending & Darning
In a knitting and quilting market dominated by ladies’ titles, this one’s for the fellas. Since you can’t afford to go out and buy a $50 shirt every time you pop a button anymore, M&D will offer straightforward no-nonsense advice on needle-and-thread work. No fancy patterns or quadruple-crossover stitches here, just easy-to-ignore directions outlining simple household tasks, like how to turn on the iron, and the myriad quick one can make with Scotch tape.
This title, about raising chickens on one’s back 40, already exists. Drat!
Home Labor Force
Got kids? Time to put them to work, just like in the good old days. We’ll offer tips on home-based business opportunities designed with your child’s small hands in mind. Those nimble little fingers can do work you or I just can’t do, and why should we continue to outsource it to Asia when we have untapped potential—human resources!—right here in our homes?
Archeologists have found tools that date back over a million years. But if the grid goes down tomorrow, you won’t be able to pop out to Home Depot to buy a tool, not even a simple rake. Why, if you want to rake those pesky leaves in your backyard, you’ll have to make one yourself. And TD will show you how, offering the latest ergonomic developments in Stone and Bronze age tools.
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Back in the real world, you’ll find our annual Literary Supplement (p. 53) in our current issue. Thanks to Nina Shengold and Mik Horowitz for editing the section and pulling together an impressive selection of hometown talent, including Laura Shaine Cunningham, John Darnton, Robert Kelly, Jonathan Gould, Frank D. Gilroy, Anne Gorrick, Gretchen Primack, Ronald Baatz, Michael Perkins, and our short story contest winner, Mimi Lipson.
And join us for our “Eats, Reads, and Leaves” party celebrating the Literary Supplement on Friday, November 14 at 7pm. We’re holding the event in our new downstairs gallery below HQ here in Kingston at 314 Wall Street (we’re calling it—forgive our narcissism—Chronogram Space). It’ll feature readings by local literati, including our short story contest juror Jana Martin (Russian Lover and Other Stories), John Darnton (Black and White and Dead All Over), Gioia Timpanelli (What Makes a Child Lucky), and Gretchen Primack (The Slow Creaking of Planets). Did I mention free hors d’oeuvres and (not free) booze? Anchoring the evening will be Mikhail “Cultural Czar in Exile” Horowitz and Gilles “What, Me Worry?” Malkine, who will perform their satirical mash-up of literature, politics, and pop culture. I hope to see you there!
Get your weekly dose of Chronogram on Monday mornings at 8:15 with Brian and
Greg Gattine on “The Morning Show with Gattine and Franz.” WDST 100.1FM.