Saturday, February 7, 2009

Viagranomics and the Stimulus Package

Allowing the feds to goose the money supply to keep the economy from going over the edge is like playing Russian roulette, and this is what the bank holding companies have done with the consent of Congress and the other branches of the government they are in collusion with. It can be likened to a man who is sick from a lifetime of bad habits who can't get an erection but is so intent on getting himself and his partner satisfied that he takes the blue ovals even though he's well aware that he's also taking nitrates for heart failure. The interaction of these two medications is known to cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure but the man chooses to use a short-term fix anyway in order to hop up the sack action for a few moments at the risk of incurring a coronary event that could prevent him from working ever again. Of course, anyone at any time could suffer a heart attack from a variety of causes, even if one tries to stay healthy but the chances of living a long life are strongly in one’s favor if moderate lifestyle choices are made. Of course, one can be totally healthy and still need that extra push in bed that a Viagra sometimes makes happen but that is not really the issue here. (pun unintended)

Politicians have cried 'wolf' so many times, over the past eight years or so that no one on the street believes them anymore. They say that if taxpayers don't cough up another trillion in borrowed money that the economy is going to fall off a cliff and so they scare us into believing that without their indispensable help we are surely doomed to a repeat of the '30's with its bread lines and huddled masses of unemployed warming themselves by trash-can fires. Yes, there is reason to conclude that pouring vast amounts of money in the short term could revive American jobs and free up credit to businesses but what would be its effects in the long term?

Congress is debating how and where to spend those multi-billions so that they do the most good and is just now hammering out a compromise package that will assuredly have a combination of a good helping of swine fat along with a small helping of lean meat to please the more conservative and fiscally health-minded among us. We are used to putting up with those kinds of things from Washington. The problem is that we are not in a run-of-the-mill recession. We are really in a soft depression and the economy with all its dynamic energy can’t seem to ‘get it up’ this time despite all the rabbits Bernanke and Paulson (enter Geithner) through slight of hand have and are now pulling out of their top-hats. The process remains secretive with little accountablity as to where all the money is going that there is a palpable lack of confidence that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. With the exception of good folks such as Peter Orszag from GAO, lying prophets abound who continue to confuse and confound the American people by telling them only what they want to hear. We oh so want to believe that government largesse can fix anything but when we look at what stares back at us, the loss of jobs, the decline in personal wealth, the mounting state and local deficits, etc. our hopes turn to fear and there is trepidation when we think back on how good many of us felt listening to Obama’s inspiring pre-election “Yes, we can” rallies. So, the American ‘heart’ is in crisis and is not so young and strong as it was in its youth. Too much rich food and a lack of an economic exercise program has drained us of strength and we seek short-term economic solutions so that we can “fire it up” one more time regardless of the long-term consequences.

The great experiment of imprudent banking practices has done much damage and if we continue to allow our ‘leaders’ to reach into that same old bag of quick fixes we are likely to see our worst fears realized as the real condition of the economy becomes nakedly apparent.

No one will admit to having a magic bullet that will extricate us from what is likely to befall us but there are pebbles on the road we’ve walked that can (and must) lead us back to a sounder, healthier condition. That road back will be painful and will require the fiscal common sense the Founders had as their guide. They had pebbles of their own to follow, a sense of conscience which moved them to spend, tax and govern judiciously and that which guided them kept the ship of the nation on an even keel. Back then they made their ships strong because they knew they would have to be solid enough to withstand the storms that would inevitably follow.

Obama, I believe is right when he asks everyone to be a part of the solution and that is the very challenge that John Kennedy asked us to take on and it is incumbent for all to pitch in to get the country back on its feet. What will not work, however, is the status quo where elected and appointed bureaucrats fashion legislation that only ends up enriching the political class. Be wary of them. They will be the ones who will create and run the new civilian service programs, mostly top-down affairs and bright gems of socialistic central planning to help those who supposedly can’t help themselves. When the initiative finally launches, they will tell us where to go to work, how the job will be done, when to wake up and when to sleep. We will, in essence be their servants since they have a vested interest in staying in power and we will have no choice but to trust them to get it right, just one more time. We must insist however that they serve us. We must gather up our energy and create some of our own solutions, not as loyal party members, but as patriots who care deeply about our families, neighbors and fellow citizens, not in knee-jerk fashion where we follow legislative dictates, but where we recognize that each individual has the ability to harness their unique abilities to get the country back up and running well.

Government programs run by Viagra-crats offer us only ad-hoc solutions and a temporary relief of symptoms. Only people can help people. Cure the underlying cause of our ills with heavy doses of healthy competition, personal responsibility, courage, and liberty, where people are free to develop their own solutions with minimal government interference and we will ramp up our productivity and begin to thrive as a nation again, working together to solve its many problems.

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