I suppose I get my delightful mean-spiritedness from My Old Man. Yes, that's it: it's genetic. I can't help myself. A deviant chromosome makes me mean. I'm a victim!
The Old Man was sitting up front of the audience at a farm meeting when someone in the back complained that he could not hear the speaker. Father turns toward the back and shouts, "Well I can hear. I'll change places."
The other relevant quote came at the expense of Gaylord Nelson. The good Senator was detailing all the wonderful Great Society legislation he had sponsored to help the farmer when the host, the proprietor of Stately Blaska Work Farm, thanked the Senator for his comments but pleaded, "Please, no more help. We can't afford it."
I feel that way about the latest bank bailout detailed by the tax-cheating Treasury Secretary. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 381.99 points, or 4.6 percent on Tuesday. And as I write this on Thursday morning the market is off another 180 points as the stimulus package nears completion. The Down is cratering below 7,800.
Doesn't it seem that every time Washington announces some fix or another, the market makes a flushing sound.
That still doesn't factor in the "stimulus" package. Please, no more help. We can't afford it.
What did Reagan say after the 1982 recession followed the double-digit inflation of Jimmy Carter? Time's up. The Gipper said: "Stay the course."
Dan Rather nightly called it "the Reagan Recession." And Reagan said, "Stay the course." No phony bailouts. No throwing good money after bad. He let the system bleed itself out.
The Same Old New Deal
You may remember the cover of Time magazine, the one that displayed The New President in pinz nez glasses and a cigarette holder jauntily held in his mouth. At the core of the Democrat(ic) impulse is the belief that the federal government can do anything. So, it is an article of faith that FDR "cured" the Great Depression. Economists and many historians know better.
Fortune magazine, no stranger to economic issues and - as from what I can tell - pretty fair and balanced, has the final word on the New Deal. Yes, entities such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Security and Exchange Commission (the latter headed by that old stock manipulator, Joe Kennedy) served as watchdog agencies. But remember this - the FDIC wasn't begun until most of the banks that were going to fail had already done so. Then FDR instituted a bank holiday, examined those that remained, and reopened only those that passed the smell test - which, by then, was most of them.
Roosevelt's programs were first passed in 1933 but economists generally agree that the Great Depression did not end until 1939, when the country began preparing for World War II. Unemployment rates, which reached as high as 25%, took several years to recover and did not get below 9% until 1940.
A central culprit was the National Recovery Administration (NRA), from 1933. ... It's hard to find anyone now who will defend the NRA, which academics agree was a bad program because it stifled competition. It was obvious to people even then that the NRA was seriously flawed; in 1935, the Supreme Court ruled the program unconstitutional.
I happened to catch Charlie Rangel (who has to be the most distinctive guy in Congress) as C-Span televised the House-Senate Conference Committee last night admit that he did not know what was in the stimulus package.
... Roosevelt and his New Deal were not as saintly or ruinous as either side claims. As usual the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The biggest thing we have in common, perhaps, is that like Roosevelt, we can only take our best guess at what will work. [ Fortune: The truth about stimulus and the Depression]
As I have written here before: some projects, if they are big enough, can serve as an economic stimulus. Ike's interstate highway system, Kennedy-Johnson's space program, and (probably) FDR's Hoover dam. The New York Times did a groundbreaking study of the "lost decade" in Japan where remote villages have all kinds of nice amenities - children's art museums, aquariums, bridges to nowhere - but no economic recovery accrued to them.
In the end, say economists, it was not public works but an expensive cleanup of the debt-ridden banking system, combined with growing exports to China and the United States, that brought a close to Japan's Lost Decade. This has led many to conclude that spending did little more than sink Japan deeply into debt, leaving an enormous tax burden for future generations. [NY Times: Japan's Big-Works Stimulus Is Lesson]
The Culture of Death
If you missed the comments to the previous edition of Stately Blaska Manor. I will repeat it here. One Harris Lemberg, who identifies himself on the Isthmus Forum as "harrissimo," has this to say about my blog on second-trimester abortions:
"I figured he was just an asshole. But now I see with much nausea and disgust that he is mentally ill, not fit to live among civil and decent people."
"Not fit to live ..."? For one setting standards of civility and decency, my interlocutor lacks a certain sense of irony. Perhaps Mr. Lemberg has in mind for this First Amendment advocate a fourth-trimester abortion. If this space goes dark, tell my story to the world.
Should I survive, catch my mental illness speaking into the microphone on the Week In Review, with guest host Gene Purcell, from 8 to 9 a.m. this Friday, February 13 (YIKES!) on WHA, 970 AM.
A new era of personal responsibility
Change we can believe in, garbage someone else can pick up.