Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 18

Niall Ferguson, historian and wanker, is celebrating his 42nd birthday today. In a column the other day in the Sunday Telegraph, Ferguson urged Americans to sustain their historic sense of "optimism" -- which otherwise might be termed "denial" -- as long as humanly possible, lest the world tumble from their shoulders. After sharing some grim (and rather unilluminating) economic and sociological data to the effect that Americans are wracked with debt and that the global economy floats on a sea of mindless Yankee consumption; that among other consequences, the climate just might be changing permanently in response to said consumption; and that perhaps the worst thing for the environment might be that Africans stop starving, dying of AIDS and annihilating one another in civil wars, Ferguson cheekily advises more of the same:
So long as Americans keep walking on the sunny side of the street, the global economy will carry on growing. The nightmare scenario, however, is that optimism could suddenly tip over into pessimism.

"The only thing we have to fear," declared Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression, "is fear itself." That fear has been long absent from American life. But we should never forget what a devastating thing it can be on those rare occasions when the US crosses over to the shady side of the street.

I am pleased to report that halfway through April 18, it appears unlikely that my daughter -- who remains nestled obliviously inside my wife, where she has consumed nothing but blood and amniotic fluid since her conception -- will not share her birthday with the likes of Niall Ferguson.