February 2004
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Day February 29, 2004

The future of liberalism, part 3

In two earlier posts, I followed up on a thread by Kevin Drum entitled “The future of liberalism.” I decided to continue this series of posts after a discussion with a good friend in San Francisco last weekend. Our talk ranged widely, but one comment in particular stuck with me – that the left loses support in some quarters because it fails to provide the linkage to morality that many, if not most, people need.

My first reaction was denial, but at root what my friend said is true. As I mentioned in my first post in this thread, liberalism has been a politics of issues, not worldview. Conservatism, especially those strains with a religious social agenda, definitely provides a “worldview” and not just a series of positions on issues.

I think it is worth understanding whether this is a necessary structural difference between the two, or whether it’s possible to have a liberal worldview which includes a “moral compass.” The answer, I believe, will have a great deal of impact on whether Judis and Teixiera’s “emerging Democratic majority” really will come to pass.

An Interim Constitution for Iraq

 Well, Iraq is close to having an interim constitution, after the Governing Council finally agreed on a draft.  Bremer says he’ll sign it, at which point it’ll be the law of the land (at least until June 30th, but it could be additionally ratified at that point, or modified).  

I haven’t seen a full released copy yet, but it appears to have a bill of rights, softened language on the relationship between Islam and legislation, and compromises for Kurds (including retention of militia and extensive self-rule in Kurdistan).  25% of the seats in the provisional legislature will be reserved for women, which is a pretty good step away from true fundamentalism.  

I’m going to be rooting for this over the next couple of months – if this can be a start of a real shot at constitutional government for Iraq, it’ll go a long way towards furthering reconstruction and rebuilding.  

We’ve still got the “bubble” monkey on our backs…

 Stock market bubbles are like pure opium…even though we all say we’re clean, and we don’t want to indulge anymore, in our secret hearts we still do. 

Further evidence of this came in Forbes Magazine, which recently listed Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page in their 2004 list of world billionaires.  In spite of the fact that Google is not a public company and Google stock is non-negotiable in public circles.  Doesn’t that strike anybody as odd?

I’ve been through two IPO’s, and the day before each of them, in the outside world, my stock was worth…nothing.  The day after, it was worth something, because somebody could buy it from me (I’m skirting the lockup issue for clarity).  Google hasn’t even announced its IPO nor filed with the SEC yet (as far as anybody can tell).  What’s really going on here is that everyone desperately wants Google to have their IPO sometime soon, to possibly re-ignite an IPO market for technology companies.  Heck, I’d like the same thing, but this time, let’s hold the side order of insanity.  Brin and Page will be billionaires when and if Google is a publicly traded stock. 

To Forbes:  wishing doesn’t make it so. 

And congrats to J.K. Rowling, who did join the ranks of billionaires this year, and frankly, deserves it a hell of a lot more than Mikhail Khodorkovsky or some of the other folks on the list.