Sometimes a strikeout means that the slugger’s girlfriend just ran off with the UPS driver. Sometimes a muffed ground ball means that the shortstop’s baby daughter has a pain in her head that won’t go away. And handicapping is for amateur golfers, not ballplayers. Pitchers don’t ease off on the cleanup hitter because of the lumps just discovered in his wife’s breast. Baseball is not life. It is a fiction, a metaphor. And a ballplayer is a man who agrees to uphold that metaphor as though lives were at stake. Perhaps they are. I cherish a theory I once heard propounded by G.Q. Durham that professional baseball is inherently antiwar. The most overlooked cause of war, his theory runs, is that it’s so damned interesting. It takes hard effort, skill, love and a little luck to make times of peace consistently interesting. About all it takes to make war interesting is a life. The appeal of trying to kill others without being killed yourself, according to Gale, is that it brings suspense, terror, honor, disgrace, rage, tragedy, treachery and occasionally even heroism within range of guys who, in times of peace, might lead lives of unmitigated blandness. But baseball, he says, is one activity that is able to generate suspense and excitement on a national scale, just like war. And baseball can only be played in peace. Hence G.Q.’s thesis that pro ball-players—little as some of them may want to hear it—are basically just a bunch of unusually well-coordinated guys working hard and artfully to prevent wars, by making peace more interesting.
David James Duncan
...the centrality of competitiveness as the key to growth is a recurrent EU motif. Two decades of EC directives on increasing competition in every area, from telecommunications to power generation to collateralizing wholesale funding markets for banks, all bear the same ordoliberal imprint. Similarly, the consistent focus on the periphery states’ loss of competitiveness and the need for deep wage and cost reductions therein, while the role of surplus countries in generating the crisis is utterly ignored, speaks to a deeply ordoliberal understanding of economic management. Savers, after all, cannot be sinners. Similarly, the most recent German innovation of a constitutional debt brake (Schuldenbremse) for all EU countries regardless of their business cycles or structural positions, coupled with a new rules-based fiscal treaty as the solution to the crisis, is simply an ever-tighter ordo by another name.If states have broken the rules, the only possible policy is a diet of strict austerity to bring them back into conformity with the rules, plus automatic sanctions for those who cannot stay within the rules. There are no fallacies of composition, only good and bad policies. And since states, from an ordoliberal viewpoint, cannot be relied upon to provide the necessary austerity because they are prone to capture, we must have rules and an independent monetary authority to ensure that states conform to the ordo imperative; hence, the ECB. Then and only then, will growth return. In the case of Greece and Italy in 2011, if that meant deposing a few democratically elected governments, then so be it.The most remarkable thing about this ordoliberalization of Europe is how it replicates the same error often attributed to the Anglo-American economies: the insistence that all developing states follow their liberal instruction sheets to get rich, the so-called Washington Consensus approach to development that we shall discuss shortly. The basic objection made by late-developing states, such as the countries of East Asia, to the Washington Consensus/Anglo-American idea liberalize and then growth follows was twofold. First, this understanding mistakes the outcomes of growth, stable public finances, low inflation, cost competitiveness and so on, for the causes of growth. Second, the liberal path to growth only makes sense if you are an early developer, since you have no competitors—pace the United Kingdom in the eighteenth century and the United States in the nineteenth century. Yet in the contemporary world, development is almost always state led.
Mark Blyth