From my admittedly modest knowledge of American history, I’m pretty sure of one thing: If Thomas Jefferson had been alive and in attendance at Tuesday’s debate, the first thing he would have done is walk up on stage and punch both candidates in the mouth.
In the midst of our country’s largest financial crisis since the early 20th century (if not longer), these candidates offered no real solutions. In fact, neither candidate has even given us the slightest clue of how their sloganesque claims could mathematically become reality. They haven’t even tried, being so strong in the (correct) belief that they don’t have to. The followers of their respective parties, of course, ignore this and continue their Orwellien worship of this pair of slogan dispensing disgraces.
Ron Paul correctly predicted our current housing disaster in 2002, and even correctly predicted what our government’s knee-jerk reaction would be, but was virtually laughed out of this year’s presidential race for being too “extreme”. Let’s take a look at who we wound up with instead – Obama started off strong with this polling-driven nugget about our current economic crisis: “…the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Sen. McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild…”. If this doesn’t sum up presidential campaigning, I’m not sure what would. Let’s see if we can determine what the goals of this scripted line were:
1) Use “eight years” to pin the problem exclusively to the party of the current president.
2) Use “supported by McCain” to tie your opponent to the unpopular president.
3) Use the “strip away regulations” Republican stereotype to add credibility to the comment.
That’s all well and good except for a couple things: first of all, “stripping away regulations” is exactly the opposite of what caused the problem. The U.S. Community Reinvestment Act, passed by and several times amended by our congress over the last few decades, adding more and more risk, “encourages” banks to lend to “all segments of their community” since having banks decide what loans would lead to profitability on their own would be “discriminatory”. The federal reserve controls interest rates through its own regulation, as opposed to letting the market set them. In 1995, Fannie Mae and Freddic Mac began receiving “affordable housing credit” for purchasing mortgage-backed securities (for low-income borrowers) from none other than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. All of these factors, which combined to form a perfect storm, operate outside of market-driven conditions and directly under the regulation of the United States government and Federal Reserve.
Further, the assertion that McCain wants to “strip away regulations” gives way too much credit. In fact, McCain’s first reaction to this situation was that a new agency should be created to deal with such crises. This is the typical government approach: reward yourself for your own ineptitude by making yourself larger. Resistence to this kind of garbage used to be the strength of the Republican party. Today, they bring about irrelevent arguments about earmarks that are determined after spending levels have already been set and then talk about how they will lower taxes despite not cutting any programs from a budget that’s already out of balance. The Democrats are no better in this category, feigning that a reduction from the $100 billion spent annually in Iraq would fund massive socialization of health care that already costs over $700 billion (largely do to the inefficiency of its centralization, which would only be increased) and hasn’t even increased care rates for the poor and elderly. And of course, no significant program cuts to speak of. What would Jefferson have said about this? He is, after all, the man who said: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
And of course, both candidates supported a bill to tax the American people as part of an injection of close to a trillion dollars into a failing industry that was basically deservedly seeing the results of its malinvestment. This comes at the expense of the American people not only in terms of the direct taxation, but also in terms of the resulting devaluation of every dollar they’ve saved (even before this bill, $600-$700 billion had been added in liquidity from thin air), not to mention every dollar they are payed by their employers until salaries adjust for the resulting inflation. This is why I’m pretty sure Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t have cared for these guys. His desire was for “a wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.” Of course, given Jefferson’s opinion on sound money in general (“Never spend your money before you have earned it”) one has to wonder what he’d think about debt-backed securities, debt-backed currency, and a debt-ridden government.
What personally distresses me is that so few people even seem to care. Maybe John Adams said it best in a letter to Jefferson: “All the perplexities, confusion and distresses in America arise not from defects in the constitution or confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, as much from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.”
At any rate, you can start to see a couple patterns in these candidates’ positions: fix problems created by intervention with more intervention, and count on your quasi-religious following to forget fifth grade math while they’re fawning over you. It’s worked so far.