Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oration & Consternation!

The president’s speech concerning economics might better have been left unspoken. This is not to speak disparagingly of an effort to somehow rev up the atmosphere in the country since he had spent weeks proclaiming enough doom and gloom for a couple of centuries, let alone what will most likely be a fairly normal, though perhaps much lengthier than usual, recovery.

The Anointed One spoke too rapidly, giving the impression that he didn't believe a lot of the speech – maybe most of it – and this made his passion (quite a lot of that) less believable. He promised the moon, universal health-care, and lowered taxes for 95% of the population, meaning, one supposes, that the whole deal will be done on the backs of those who make too much money. He also promised to halve the deficit in four years, in the bargain. Considering that the nation is collectively bankrupt now and wallowing in the "stimulus" package, how all that will be done...except through printing money...seems problematic. If that happens, a wheelbarrow will be needed to carry the cash to the store for a loaf of bread.

Speaker Pelosi was sitting right behind the messiah and jumped to her feet constantly, as if on cue, so that everyone in the chamber had to do the same, loudly clapping. A lot of folks, especially old codgers, probably got tired of this but...hey, cheerleaders her age are hard to find. Biden, also sitting behind him, tended toward sleep, so Pelosi had another reason for stirring up the noise. It’s a wonder that, after he said his “God bless America” at the end of the too-long oration, she didn’t somersault over the railing and give Obama either a hug-and-kiss combination or just kneel and genuflect.

The speech was political theater fit to make Berlin look like small bananas...the usual ear-tickling "three cars in every garage" thing, with the caveat, of course, that EVERYONE must do his/her part. He made it very personal – in-your-face personal – that HE would see to it that everyone stayed in line, though he mentioned that Biden would be the great overseer, notwithstanding his new position of Chief Performance Officer just established by executive order to do the same thing. Apparently, the prez didn’t spend enough time in the Senate to learn how it actually WILL be. Just keeping his own party halfway in line will be nearly impossible, let alone getting any non-partisan help.

The speech was not billed as a state-of-the-union oration probably because neither Obama nor anyone else actually knows the state of the union, notwithstanding that he has spent since at least 2007 talking about the sad state of the union. The average “Joe Blow” has a fairly good idea of the state of the union in his household but Obama’s declaiming about that would put a damper on the let-the-good-times-roll atmosphere of the occasion.

So...$1.6 trillion has been voted up in the last four months to provide a “stimulus” to the economy. This was the backdrop for the speech, in which was mentioned again the millions of jobs it would create. Nobody believes this if for no other reason the fact that a multitude of the people who have lost jobs will eventually return to them – just filling jobs already in place...but they’ll be counted as new jobs, of course.

Now...Congress is set to consider the budget for 2009. The latest statistic is that government spending (added to the “stimulus”) will be $3.66 trillion, while federal tax revenue is expected to be $2.29 trillion, or a shortfall of $1.37 trillion. The shortfall, then, is a hefty $2.97 trillion when the “stimulus” is added to it. How the nation digs out from under this while at the same time installing universal health care, making it possible for everyone to go to college, build new schoolhouses, and come forth for some $7.7 billion in earmarks, of which the messiah said there would be none approved by him, is yet to be determined.

Henry Morgenthau was Treasury Secretary 1934-45 during the Great Depression of the 1930s and said this in 1939: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong…somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises…I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started…And an enormous debt to boot!”

Morgenthau didn’t lose his job. He passed judgment in advance on the “stimulus” plan of President Obama, as presented in his speech on economics. He has a democrat-controlled Congress to do his bidding. It’s doubtful that his constituency will have the gumption to face up to what Morgenthau laid out back in 1939, when conditions were immeasurably worse. The alternative then was to let nature take its course – free market economics – but World War II came along, and the rest is history. Disallowing nature to take its course in the housing market and during the last few years otherwise has caused this crisis, and the president’s method will prolong it. Bush warned many years ago and Congress didn’t listen. Now, it’s too late.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

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