October 17, 2008

Florida's Financial Crisis

Again, unprecedented. Perhaps in conditions as bad as these Chiles could have accomplished the long-term tax reform he long sought.

Office Space

I may be getting some office space soon. I'm excited. This is one of the key logistical problems I mentioned.

Budget Season

It's state budget season again!

How silly a thing to say--it never ends. My study of mid-cycle adjustments in Maryland and Virginia this year is providing grist for the writing mill in the Senate chapters. From low-response expenditure side maneuvers like hiring freezes and one-day furloughs to big-ticket transformation like "right-sizing" government Chiles-style, it's a heady time for many a budget analyst.

The Bush I recession, or whatever you call the 1991 national economic downturn, was a bump in the road compared to our current fifty-car pileup.

Here is how Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) is dealing with the situation, for example.

Wall Street

I've mentioned the film Wall Street before I think, but the lessons from it bear repeating now especially. One of my favorite scenes in all of cinema is what you might call "The Meltdown Scene." Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, stops on the street, breathless after watching Gordon Gekko strip Bluestar Airlines apart bit by bit. The camera moves back physically as it focuses in on his face twisting in disgust. He has betrayed his real father and his "father-in-devil's-clothing" has betrayed him. As in all good movies, the memorable scrape at your pysche happens when the protagonist--who you care about--stops charging forward for once and just lets his self-doubt put wrinkles on his face. The musical cue is a nice choice, too.

I think it's this sort of tone that I'd love to capture in my chapter on Chiles' retirement from the U.S. Senate. The subject and circumstances are drastically different, but not the layers of remorse, guilt, confusion, and self-doubt that open up for us to see.

Come to think of it, I think anyone who got laid off by Enron probably had a similar feeling as Bud--probably worse. The examples are endless.

Of course, in Chiles' world, the chicanery is political and corporate.