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Government Stimulus and the Slough of Despond

Appearing with Dennis Miller, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform drew a brilliant analogy of government attempts to stimulate the economy. Here’s a slightly amended version:

Government stimulus is like taking a bucket of water from one side of a lake, walking around the lake, pouring the bucket back in and saying you’re stimulating the lake to a great depth and soon the waters will rise…

Mr. Norquist named current members of government, but the underlying problem is bigger than the current government. It’s not really about a lake, either, at least not a real lake like Erie or Titicaca. If we take a step back from Mr. Norquist’s metaphorical lake we see that this is man-made and fed not by the mainstream economy, but by a diversion sluiced from that mainstream. That sluice is the federal revenue stream.

The problem with our central government is that it’s come to focus on that sluiced off revenue and the slough created by it as the real economy when it’s not. The economy that creates real jobs and real prosperity is the one back upstream, the one they’re tapping to create federal revenue. While it doesn’t excuse their excesses, the behavior of statists becomes understandable in the light of this gross misunderstanding. Naturally, they think stimulus projects that benefit the slough will benefit the economy because to them it is the economy. Naturally, it doesn’t occur to them that closing the sluice brake, diverting less, shrinking the slough will help. Naturally, they think higher taxes is good for the economy because it makes their stream flow faster and the slough they’ve created at the end of it bigger and deeper (and so harder to see the garbage and waste polluting it).

What is happening, of course, is that the real stream of the economy is being shrunk to a dribble by the amount being diverted into the government slough — which is rapidly becoming a swamp.. People who could be drinking from the real stream are now dependent on the slough-water. The hard task ahead of us is to lift the eyes of the nation from the swamp and turn it back to the living waters of a truly free economy.

Pure Evil

Remember this episode of Boston Legal? It featured a ranting summation by James Spader (the literal mouthpiece for show creator David E. Kelley) on how the credit card companies don’t really want to be paid back but prefer to keep debtors paying into the companies’ bulging coffers ad infinitum. Pure evil, right?

Mark Steyn, speaking on The Dennis Miller Show, notes that the payments on our debt to China are enough to fund 80% of its military and soon will be the equivalent of 100% of that communist dictatorship’s military funding. Of course, they don’t really want to be paid back, either, they want us on the string until they use us up the way Robert Prosky wanted to use up Jimmy Caan in Thief. Pure evil, right?

In both cases, however, consumer responsibility for borrowing has to be addressed at some point. On Boston Legal a contrived debt restructuring prompted the case and made the credit card company appear to be a bad actor — not unlike the way Spader appeared delivering the summation, but I digress. In the case of the US and China we have to own our nation’s culpability as a reckless spender and wastrel borrower. We’ve brought our problems on ourselves. We have to change.

Don Soretoro

There’s actually enough money to pay the military and all entitlements. The president is trying to hold those funds hostage to scare people and leverage support from 2012 incumbents. The only budget the president put out had so much overspending his own party’s solons rejected it. Raising the debt ceiling is like buying fat clothes: sure, you’re not naked but you’re still destined for a heart attack. As far as taxes go, only a flat/fair tax that kills loopholes will work but the president wants a raise without those reforms - at least to start. It’s an offer we can refuse…and should.

"Government can’t control the economy without controlling people."

…so said Ronald Reagan in his famous speech A Time for Choosing. In What Social Classes Owe Each Other, William Graham Sumner wrote:

If any one thinks that there are or ought to be somewhere in society guarantees that no man shall suffer hardship, let him understand that there can be no such guarantees, unless other men give them–that is, unless we go back to slavery, and make one man’s effort conduce to another man’s welfare. Of course, if a speculator breaks loose from science and history, and plans out an ideal society in which all the conditions are to be different, he is a law-giver or prophet, and those may listen to him who have leisure.

Two of the three branches of our Tree of Liberty are full of rot — and they are beginning to spread their rot to the third branch. It is natural for the federal government to grow and for those who work in it to see their work as good and necessary and so applaud the growth.

This tendency is why so-called RINOs who have come to power in the central government are unable to see the need to deeply prune it back to the form envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Where we can we must open their eyes and change their minds, in cases where they refuse to see what must be done, then they, too, must be pruned via the ballot box.

What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong?

The expression is “your goose is cooked, @dscc”, not “your cake is baked”…

The expression is “your goose is cooked, @dscc”, not “your cake is baked”…

In Blackest Night: GL Confronts Terrorism

I’m a Green Lantern fan from the Silver Age, Hal Jordan era. I know a little about the Golden Age GL, Alan Scott and more about John Stewart, especially as ably voiced by thinking-man’s actor Phil LaMarr in the animated Justice League series. I knew pretty much nothing about the new explanation of the GL power rings’ inability to affect the color yellow — until I saw the two most recent Green Lantern movies.

With a GL feature in the theaters I had my oldest grandson over for a Green Lantern movie festival. We watched the animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight — a story combining Hal Jordan’s GL origin with Sinestro’s betrayal featuring Chris Meloni (Law and Order SVU) and Victor Garber (Alias) in those roles. In this story the green and yellow power batteries were powered by green and yellow “elements” whose power opposed each other. It was in the second animated movie, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights — an episodic offering with Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan — that I learned that in current lore yellow energy represents fear which breaks the will needed to wield a green power ring.

This concept is also at work in the live/cgi action adventure Green Lantern which opened this month. In that story the Guardians who created the Green Lantern Corps considered but rejected moving to fear as a power source but one Guardian refused to give up and in his experimentation becomes Parallax — a creature who feeds on fear and destroys whole worlds in the process.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration… — Frank Herbert, Dune

Intentional or coincidental, the relationship between Parallax and terrorism is obvious. Terror itself is more important to terrorists than the destruction they cause. They seek to break the will, the resolve of those they target far beyond the destruction they cause. To defeat them we must not only root them out and kill them, we must not let them break our will and our resolve.

Unfortunately, our current policies reflect much fear and little will beyond a willingness to limit the freedom of many for fear of offending someone. We grope children and old ladies at airports because we fear to follow the successful, profile-driven methods used by Israel. Terrorists attack and we fear to even name them as jihadists no matter how much those ideas influenced them, how loudly they yell, “Allahu akbar!”

It is a black, if not the blackest, night for the United States. While our soldiers defend our freedom from foreign enemies, on the home front we cower in a little, fitful, fretful yellow light and pretend that it is the light of freedom while the shadow grows around us.