Wednesday, January 11, 2012



Much to the dismay, or at least the surprise, of my readers, I haven’t commented on either the Iowa caucuses (other than reacting to the smart-aleck insult delivered by Jon Huntsman to the people of my second favorite state; see my 12/31/11 piece, WE CERTAINLY KNOW ONE THING IOWANS AREN’T GOING TO PICK…) or the New Hampshire primary. This apparent deficiency has arisen from a dearth of anything especially new or insightful to say and because my 7/19/11 piece, MICHELE AND SARAH, MAKE ROOM FOR THE FAT LADY, in which I presciently predicted that Mitt Romney would get the nomination, has spoken for itself. But the mewing and bleating of all but one of the Republican candidates has prompted me to write today not on the horse race aspects of the campaign but rather on what is laughingly called the substance of the campaign.

This morning, I heard Rick Perry fulminating about a government that has grown so big and presumptuous (The latter is my word, not his, of course; polysyllabic words are not Mr. Perry’s stock in trade, or at least that is what he would like us to believe.) that it tells us how we should educate our children, invest our money, run our businesses, manage our health care, etc. This sentiment is not the least bit unique among Republican candidates and it is not one with which I would disagree in the least. But I wish these guys would stop pretending that this problem started with Barack Obama. This fulsome growth in the size and arrogance of government is at least fifty, and probably more like eighty, years in the making. And the guy who preceded Mr. Obama had a great deal to do with the figurative Vigoro with which government has been infused over the last decade or so; Mr. Obama is just shoveling the fertilizer with a greater degree of vigor than his hapless and completely discredited predecessor. Yes, I know that most of the GOP candidates now profess to oppose the government supersizing antics of the Bush administration, but where were they when that nincompoop was in office and yours truly, along with a lonely pack of like-minded colleagues, were flailing away at the overmatched frat boy’s big government approach? That’s right; they were being loyal Republicans, supporting, if not burning incense to, the buffoon whose name is rarely, if ever, spoken in this campaign.

I also wish this gormless gallery of geeks would stop attributing all of our economic problems to the Obama administration. In fact, you can’t even pin this one on the pathetico who preceded him. We went into what is now being called the Great Recession for two reasons: First, people borrowed money they couldn’t pay back to buy things they couldn’t afford to impress people about whom they didn’t care. Second, we have created a financial system under which those who encouraged and facilitated and this debt debauch were not held to account for their role in the debacle, a system in which the upside is privatized and the downside is socialized. Politicians were only ancillarily involved in destroying this economy, primarily through the latter of the two aforementioned and then primarily through an obsequious Fed. (The culpability of the hyper-politicized Fed for our economic difficulties lends further credence to the economic wisdom of one of the candidates, but I digress.) It wasn’t Bush or Obama or even Barney Frank who bollixed up our economy, though they and their cronies all played their parts; it was the economic illiteracy, combined with the sense of entitlement, of the American people and the understandable “Where’s the downside with that net just inches under my feet?” attitude of quarters of our nation’s “financial services” industry that drove us over the falls. We see none of the Republican candidates (and no Democrats, but that goes without saying) figuratively holding up a mirror when the talk comes to fixing our economy and telling the people that maybe not everyone is entitled to live like a millionaire, that we have to be more prudent with our money, to spend less than what we earn, if we are to avoid returning to the precipice, if indeed we have left it. No, instead we hear that it the people are blameless, victims of the politicians or the evil bankers (again, both of whom have their measure of culpability here), and if we only change the administration, everything will change because America’s greatness is somehow sacrosanct, foreordained by God and thus will endure no matter how much we fail to pay attention or do our duty as responsible participants in a democratic republic and a free market economy.

The logical conclusion of this well reasoned analysis of the issues is that anyone who thinks anything is going to change if we put one of these carnival barkers in the White House is either hopelessly naïve or completely out of touch with finance, economics, history, or the world around him. We are talking about, at best, changing the rapidity of our inevitable headlong descent into dystopia.

But we still have the entertainment value of this year’s political horse race…at least for the next two weeks or so.


matt said...

Well said sir.

The Pontificator said...

Thanks, Matt, for reading and commenting.