I'm forced to the conclusion that our legislators are either blind, or mad, or both. They seem intent on utterly destroying the foundations of the US economy.
I'm not targeting only the present Democratic administration and majorities in the House and Senate, either. Republicans have done no better when they've been in power. It seems to be a sickness in the Washington air - to gain power means to become corrupt, incompetent and cynically uncaring.
Consider these few examples (out of many I could cite):
- The US Government dictated to financial institutions (in the 1990's) that they had to loan money to those not worthy of credit, or be punished by loss of access to markets and other penalties. Not surprisingly, the banks caved in to the pressure. Now that those chickens have come home to roost, the US Government wants to bail out those same banks with OUR money. Note: we didn't cause the problem, but we're sure as hell going to have to pay for it - or so say our politicians. Do they care what we think? Like hell they do.
- In 'bailing out' the banks, the US government is offering support to those banks that can't keep afloat without it - in other words, those who made the worst business decisions. Those who made good business decisions, who don't need help, aren't getting any. That means that the poorly-managed banks are being subsidized by Uncle Sam at the expense of the well-managed banks. Is there any sense in that? Like hell there is.
- The US Government supported the unions who feathered their nests, and those of their members, at the Big Three auto manufacturers, Chrysler, Ford and GM. The upshot is that those companies carry a multi-thousand-dollar overhead on every vehicle they sell, to pay for union and retirement benefits - something their competitors don't have to pay. Having been run to the edge of bankruptcy, the US Government has bailed them out to the tune of billions upon billions of dollars of OUR money - and is now talking about imposing new fuel economy and emissions requirements that will make the Big Three even less competitive. Insane? Deluded? You bet! - but that's our politicians. Will they listen to reason? Like hell they will.
- The currently-proposed bailout package (the third) making its way through the halls of Congress and the Senate includes billions upon billions of dollars for projects that may prove ineffective and/or won't have any effect on the economy for some years to come. We need expenditure that will boost the economy in the short term - months if possible, one to two years at most. Instead, the politicians are talking about throwing money at their pet constituencies (including some highly corrupt and partisan organizations) that will benefit the politically connected, but do damn-all to help the rest of us. Other proposed expenditures will trickle down to the wider economy only over a five- to ten-year period - too late to do us any good in the current crisis. Do the politicians care? Like hell they do.
- The current leadership of the House and Senate look set fair to undo many of the tax breaks brought in over the past decade, and are talking about increasing taxes in many areas. (Don't be fooled by their claims to be reducing taxes on the middle class. Instead, follow the numbers - which the mainstream media are conveniently not reporting. For every tax 'cut' or 'break' they talk about, they're adding dozens more taxes and charges and duties and levies on things that are less in the public eye. Net result - more and higher taxes.) As Winston Churchill famously said: "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." Do our politicians understand that? Like hell they do.
- Speaking of taxes, we have a senior member of the House (Rangel) who's a tax cheat. We have a newly-appointed Secretary of the Treasury (Geithner) whose evasion of taxes came out during his confirmation process. We have another senior member of the House (Frank) who was instrumental in forcing banks to advance loans to non-credit-worthy customers - while engaged in a homosexual affair with one of the senior administrators of a State-guaranteed organization that would benefit from those loans. Conflict of interest? You can say that again! And don't blame only the Democrats - Republicans have Cunningham, Foley, Stevens, and a bunch of others of whom to be ashamed. Many - most? - of our politicians (of both major parties) are fundamentally dishonest and dishonorable, and they're surrounding themselves with appointees and lackeys of their own ilk. Can this possibly be good for our nation? Like hell it can.
- Our legal system is mired in lawsuits, regulations, and restrictions that cripple the innovative, hobble the entrepeneur and reward the litigous. Vast numbers of lawsuits are settled before they ever come to trial, because it's cheaper for companies to do so than to pay legal costs, even if they're sure they'll win. Plaintiffs are encouraged by venal
sharkslawyers to file such suits, in the virtual certainty that they'll get at least something for their trouble - whether or not they're entitled to it. Attempts to pass tort reform are stifled in Congress and the Senate, because the vast majority of our lawmakers are themselves lawyers, and won't go against their comrades in crimefellow lawyers. It's become so bad that if you legally shoot a scumbag wannabe rapist who breaks into your home to assault your wife or daughter, the odds are pretty good that the deceased scumbag's relatives will sue you for anything and everything they can get. They know your homeowner's insurance carries at least some liability protection, and they're banking on the fact that your insurer is likely to settle rather than fight the case in court. Result? Evil wins, you lose. Is this healthy for America? Like hell it is.
- We're dealing with an illegal immigration crisis of epic proportions. For every one of the millions of Americans currently out of work, there are two to three illegal aliens in this country, taking jobs that would otherwise be available to our own citizens. And don't give me any crap about "Oh, they're only taking the jobs Americans won't do". In an economic downturn like this, when the priority is to keep one's family fed and clothed and off the street, I'm willing to bet most Americans with any spine would be willing to shovel manure if they had to, if that was the only way to provide for their loved ones. However, our politicians - seeing an influx of future voters who might be persuaded to vote for them - can't be bothered with that reality. Instead, they want amnesty, and 'immigration reform', and plan to open the floodgates to even more illegal immigration. Do they care that it's harming the country? Like hell they do.
- The Social Security system, as well as programs like Medicare, are bankrupt by any logical accounting judgment. The income from Social Security taxes has been raided year after year by Congress to pay for other things, leaving the program with a drawerful of IOU's and no assets. It's highly likely that future generations - including my own - will get far less in the way of benefits than they were promised when they paid their taxes. Will this affect the politicians who shamelessly stole Social Security's assets? Like hell it will. They've passed their own retirement plan, vastly more generous than the rest of us can expect, and don't even contribute to Social Security. Go figure.
- We're facing an implacable, determined, completely merciless enemy in militant Islam (note that I emphasize MILITANT Islam, not the broad mass of Muslims as a whole). These fanatics don't care how nice we try to be: they'll only be satisfied with the destruction of Western civilization. For our new President to give his first major foreign media interview to Al Jazeera TV, and make nice conciliatory sounds to the Muslim world, is something they regard (probably rightly) as a sign of weakness. We're at war, people, and it's not going to go away during our lifetimes - probably not during our childrens' lifetimes, either. That's the reality. Get used to it. But will you hear our present leaders acknowledge that fact? Like hell you will.
In 1957 a visionary woman by the name of Ayn Rand published a novel called 'Atlas Shrugged'. If you've never read it, you'd better get a copy, now, and do so. If you've already read it, get it out of your bookshelf and re-read it. It's almost uncanny how the State she portrays is coming into being, right before our eyes - and with the same catastrophic consequences she foresaw.
A review of 'Atlas Shrugged' in the New Yorker, soon after its publication, said that the novel's theme was unbelievable and pointless: “After all, to warn contemporary America against abandoning its factories, neglecting technological progress and abolishing the profit motive seems a little like admonishing water against running uphill.” Well, guess what? All the bailouts are doing is rewarding those who committed all those faults.
I don't endorse all elements of Rand's philosophy of life, but her prescience is frightening. Her 'fiction' appears to be turning into fact in many ways. If you're wise, you'll take that into account when you plan for your future, both short- and long-term.