There's Been Way Too Much Use of the "C" Word Lately

Do you have a friend or family member for which nearly everything seems to be a crisis? Isn't it annoying? Doesn't it eventually become depressing? Have you noticed that almost none of these "crises" really is that big of a deal?

Your federal government has taken lately to calling nearly everything a crisis. If you're as sick and tired as me of one presidential administration after another running from panic to panic, perhaps you'll agree that it's time to get someone in the federal government who actually knows what they're doing.

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9/11. To me it seems like crisis mode began with the attacks on September 11, 2001. The dust had barely settled when the Bush Administration dusted off the several-hundred-page U.S.A Patriot Act. No one had a chance to read it, because according to the conventional wisdom of the day, we had no time to waste. Only if we passed this draconian new law would another attack not be imminent. It was critical to cede to government vast new powers in order to ensure that the homeland be protected from future attacks.

Have these new powers made any difference? Absolutely. Major ones. Those major differences between September 11, 2009 and its counterpart of eight years ago will be that (1) government has far more legal authority to pry into your life than it had before, (2) far more people in the world hate the increasing harlotry of American empire, and (3) Americans are far less safe than on 9/11.

9/11 seems, in retrospect, to have been the pretext that allowed the federal government to open the floodgates of "crisis". The chicken little elites have been having a field day ever since.

Bailouts. In 2006, fully a year after "untrained me" saw that the housing market was way out of kilter, Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke said
We do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy
As recently as 2008, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said
Our financial institutions are strong. Our banks are strong. They're going to be strong for many, many years.
Generally, with the exception of a government-induced housing bubble, things were fine. Had the A few days later, however, according to Paulson, the economy was on the verge of collapse--as though a legion of spaceships were en route to earth to haul part and parcel of the economy away to some far distant galaxy.

The reality was that the only part of the economy that was really unsound was Wall Street. In his book "Meltdown", Thomas Woods notes that
In fact, credit continued to be available to the creditworthy. [The large Wall Street] firms who we're told are too big to fail, are actually to big to be kept alive. The longer they are kept on life support, the more they drain capital and resources away from fundamentally sound firms that could put those resources to much more productive use...
Stimulus Packages. At change.gov, President Obama's official web site for the change we are supposed to be able believe in, the the very first statement on the subject of the economy is this:
Our country faces its most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Have you ever heard of the Depression of 1920? It's not much talked about in the history books, mainly because the government did not get involved in that one, and, very predictably and unmiraculously, it took care of itself in very short order. The Great Depression, however, was one that the government did assert itself right in the middle of. Because of this assertion, a recession became a depression, and that Depression then became "Great" as government refused to stop tinkering with all the wrong levers and subsidizing all the wrong activities.

Our current economic situation is not a crisis, but it will become one if government keeps thinking that it is the economic savior.

The general solution for our supposed crisis, according to change.gov is
A Rapid, Aggressive Response to Our Financial Crisis, Using All the Tools We Have.
Apparently, "we" refers exclusively to government, because the Obama administration has no faith whatsoever in the ingenuity of the American people to work together to solve our economic problems. Rather, here's what must happen if, according to President Obama, we have any hope of emerging from this crisis:
The [National Infrastructure Reinvestment] Bank will receive an infusion of federal money, $60 billion over 10 years, to provide financing to transportation infrastructure projects across the nation. These projects will directly and indirectly create up to two million new jobs and stimulate approximately $35 billion per year in new economic activity.
Two means exist for financing economic activity: (1) the accrual of savings by millions of Americans, or (2) the creation of funny money by government. Only one of these will sustain itself and lead to a truly healthy economy. Can you guess which one? Yet the correct solution is greatly discouraged by the inflationary policies of government, which causes government to see itself as the only solution to the problem.

Swine Flu. As much as I informed myself about the true facts surrounding the "Swine Flu Crisis of 2009", I still, a time or two, allowed myself to get worked up into a mini-frenzy of worry about the health of my family. Governments around the world seem to be deeply saddened that their predictions of dire crisis did not come to fruition. Meanwhile, in the United States, questionably reputable pharmaceutical firms are set to reap billions in profits on the back of the growing fear regarding that pandemic that never was.

Health Care
. Large projects--especially those that haven't been properly studied--a prone to failure. Regardless of all the warning signs surrounding the as yet largely unread thousand-page health care bill that the Obama administration endorses, until recently Obama and leaders in congress were in a state of panic to ensure that the behemoth become law.
"We've got to get it done this year," Obama said. "We don't have any excuses. The stars are aligned."
In other words, "this is a crisis, because the stars will soon be out of alignment, and they may never align again."

How about we start small, with a couple of one-liner bills that say, for example,
"Americans shall be able to purchase health insurance from any insurance provider in any state."
Alas, however, when people are in a state of perpetual crisis, the first thing that seems to go is the capacity for perpetual thinking.

Cap and Trade. America is doing a crappy job of stewarding the environment. In fact:
  • China is outpacing us in the construction of ultra-clean coal-fired power plants.
  • After the Oil Crisis in the early 1970's Denmark decided to wean itself from Middle Eastern oil dependency. It has been "sober" for nearly three decades. With America, however, reliance on oil from the Middle East seems to fuel an Establishment power fetish.
  • Spain now generates 11.5% of all its energy needs from wind turbines.
So how do we catch up? Well, scare tactics of course! That always works doesn't it? In his book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" Thomas Friedman says that
Too many environmentalists oppose any growth, a position that locks the poor into poverty. [As a result, t]oo many critics of environmentalism characterize any conservation as some flaky anticapital ideological dalliance.
The sky, contrary to what government power augmentation advocates would have you think, is not falling. Much like the gross inefficiency that obtains from a sixteen-year-old boy who is constantly told how worthless he is because he doesn't ever clean up his room, the the tactics of the bulk of the environmental lobby are very counterproductive.

Let's stop talking crisis all the time, especially because there is none. Let's instead talk about opportunity.

. . .

A government that thinks that it has to take care of everyone and everything will eventually become exhausted from being in a constant state of crisis. The Soviet Union eventually failed as the ever widening gyre of crisis broke apart and ultimately could not hold.

Many open-minded economists and other Americans saw our economic deterioration coming months before its most outward manifestations began to present themselves. I'm beginning to think, however, that when representatives of current and former presidential administrations claim that no one could have seen it coming, that they really didn't see it coming. That is, among other things, a sad indictment of our ability to vote with intelligence.

We can do much better. The leaders of our federal government are making an increasingly large mess of things. That could only mean that they are either inept or criminal. Either way, they don't deserve to be in office.

Americans deserve to not have to live in perpetual crisis mode.



Comments

  1. It's never a crisis, until it effects you personally.

    We should be careful when oversimplifying, and acknowledge our personal experience does not equate to a broad statistical sample.

    I'm glad you have been fortunate. Many I know have not. And to their credit, they aren't attempting to undermine your fortune, please refrain from marginalizing their misfortune with such limited information.

    ReplyDelete

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