Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

I was watching Hardball early today and the always-idiotic Jim Cramer and the usually-reliable Steven Pearlstein were both completely eliding the distinction between the following propositions:

  1. If we do absolutely nothing in response to the current situation, terrible things will happen.
  2. Unless we do exactly what Hank Paulson proposed over the weekend, terrible things will happen.

These are, clearly, very different claims. And (1), while perhaps open to debate, is a lot more plausible than (2). But proponents of the Paulson Plan have an obligation to either make the case for (2), or else to canvass some alternative ways of doing (1) and explain in clear terms why the Paulson Plan is superior to other alternatives. Merely citing the urgent need for action is a transparent effort to foreclose debate.