Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Know-Nothings are in Charge

By Alan Caruba

Briefly in the 1850’s there was a Know-Nothing movement that went by the name of the American Party. It was composed of anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant, white Anglo-Saxon morons and faded fairly quickly. It was yet another example of how dearly humans love their prejudices.

It seems to me and a lot of other folks that we might label the current bunch of bozos in Congress the Know-Nothing Party because, Democrat or Republican, they have reached a point at which they can be stampeded into voting for the expenditure of huge amounts of money without a clue why or to whom.

Now it appears they are getting ready to “stimulate the economy” with a giant, political grab-bag in excess of a trillion dollars. Much like earlier efforts, it is likely to fail while at the same time plunging the nation into deeper and deeper debt. At some point, the U.S. dollar may come to resemble its counterpart from Zimbabwe, a million of which we buy you a loaf of bread. Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi cannot wait to repeal the tax cuts, but tax cuts are known to every economist as the best way to respond to a recession.

A recent Rasmussen poll revealed that “Just 37% of Americans are even somewhat confident that their political leaders know what they’re doing as they try to address the nation’s economic problems.”

Very close to 60% lack confidence in the current crop of elected leaders, including 20% who say “they are not at all confident that policymakers know what they are doing with regards to the troubled U.S. economy.”

Need it be said that of those polled “Democrats are more confident in policymakers than Republicans”? Republicans are famous party poopers, always insisting on frugality, transparency, oversight, et cetera. Well, at least, they used to. Now, without any power in Congress, their voice and their votes count for nothing.

We are not only not getting the quality of governance we voted for, we are being subjected to an appalling demonstration of Congress critters voting more and more money be given with no indication it’s having had the desired affect on banking and insurance recipients.

It may be too soon to make such a judgment, but the tottering of both Citigroup and Bank of America is sufficient to make a lot of people question whether these bailouts are working.

What I know about banking you could put in a bug’s ear, but one is forced to wonder how such giant financial institutions could have engaged in practices that have proven so imprudent? One is tempted to say, well, there was government regulation, but it is obvious, particularly with regard to the Securities and Exchange Commission, that in reality there was none.

I have a relative who has worked a quarter century in a famed brokerage house. It has undergone new ownership or mergers so often that he literally has a collection of more than 30 different business cards to reflect the changes.

This is the price we pay for capitalism, the free market, and the massive movement of capital around the nation and the world. Given the alternative, socialism or communism, I will always take capitalism because, from my observations a government-controlled economy is always a disaster. It can only be maintained with coercion and invariably a great deal of corruption.

This is why, in a capitalist society, the quality of leadership we elect is vital to the maintenance and growth of wealth.

What we appear to have, however, are a group of people that are utterly overwhelmed by events, subject to the discipline of a handful of highly partisan, but incompetent party leaders, and easily driven to ignore the genius of the U.S. Constitution which instituted a deliberately slow process of lawmaking.

The thing I fear most in the first days of the new Obama administration will be the rush to enact bills that most of the members of Congress have not read, nor have understood if they did read them.

That’s not lawmaking. That’s magical thinking.

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