Skip to comments.Jonah Goldberg: Into the Belly of the Beast
Posted on 02/13/2009 8:29:30 AM PST by lewisglad
OK, things aren't going well. Good people are losing their jobs. Every day the deficit is looking more and more like the Great Pit of Carkoon, which, as we all remember, was that giant hole with a ravenous monster inside it that ate Boba Fett in "Return of the Jedi." "In its belly," quoth C-3PO, "you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years." In this case, pain and suffering will inevitably take the form of inflation of Zimbabwean proportions and proctologically intrusive taxes that will make every April 15th seem like a thousand years.
Our elected representatives in Washington sold the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" as a stimulant for the economy, but it is, in fact, Viagra for the leviathan state. The legislation effectively repeals welfare reform, the single most successful domestic policy of the 1990s. I must have been in the bathroom during that debate.
It's no wonder lovers of limited government and fetishists for free markets are moping like dogs whose food bowls have been moved. Alan Greenspan has repudiated capitalism. George Bush paid for Barack Obama's expansion of government with the proceeds from a fire sale on his last remaining free-market principles. Not only are we nationalizing the banks, but the legislators overseeing the banking industry regulate about as well as I play the left-handed harpsichord.
Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, who got a sweetheart mortgage from Countrywide and carried water for Fannie Mae like Gunga Din, should be testifying before his own committee in an orange jumpsuit in exchange for early release. Instead, he's spewing righteous indignation about the malfeasance of the people who used to buy him lunch.
Meanwhile, a bunch of banking CEOs appeared before the House Financial Services Committee this week. Don't get me wrong: These executives should be holding cardboard signs on the side of the road these days ("Will Float Derivatives for Food"), but they at least know what they're talking about. One congressman after another berated the CEOs for making bad loans and having shaky balance sheets. Fair enough. But they also berated them for not using bailout money to make more bad loans, which would keep their balance sheets shaking like Keith Richards at a detox spa.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who last May vowed to nationalize the oil industry if it didn't cut gas prices, spent her interrogation time sounding like the sort of person who waits in line at the DMV while having a conversation with her handbag, only to finally ask the clerk why he's wasting her time. The Atlantic's Megan McArdle writes that watching Waters interrogate the CEOs was "like watching your crazy aunt challenge your boyfriend to prove that fairies aren't real."
One of the great things about capitalism is that, unlike socialism or, say, Bobby Knight, it can deal with failure. In fact, capitalism needs failure. Joseph Schumpeter called this "creative destruction." Your grandmother called it "making lemonade out of lemons." The beauty of free markets is that firms learn from their mistakes or they lose money, shrink and then go out of business. Governments, meanwhile, grow from their mistakes and learn to make money.
Under normal circumstances, the financial inferno would cause a lot of pain, but it would also burn away a lot of deadwood. The strongest firms would survive, and newer, healthier businesses would sprout from the ashes. Plummeting housing prices would make homes affordable for first-time buyers again, particularly those with good credit who live within their means.
Sure, we would still have a stimulus bill, with tax cuts and infrastructure spending and, yes, silly pork projects. And that would be fine. We would even have some kind of bailout of the banking industry, which became a mess in part because people like Christopher Dodd and Maxine Waters tried to play the banker in their own personal game of Monopoly.
But that's not what we got. Instead, the old adage "Everyone's a capitalist on the way up and a socialist on the way down" is kicking in. The thing is, if you're a socialist on the way down, you were never really a capitalist on the way up. Capitalism requires putting your own capital at risk.
What we do have is a grand adhocracy where "government," aka Barack Obama, Timothy Geithner, Nancy Pelosi and a dozen others, will figure everything out as they go. Businesses will rise or fall based on their skill at kissing up to the government.
And as sure as shinola, when government fails again, we'll be told that only government can save us.
Why is he saying we are moping? We aren’t moping. We are mad as hell.
All too true.
now that there is funny. I don't care who you are...
I’m not moping, melancholy, or mad, as I can’t see how any of those emotions would be productive. I’m selling Girl Scout cookies, though.
Technically C-3PO was translating for Jabba the Hutt...sorry my inner geek came out. :)
Obama/Pelosi/Reid will soon be hoist by their own own petard. Porkulus is destined to fail in reviving the economy and when things get worse not better the American people will turn their wrath to those who forced this monster on them.
Actually, I’m more like a pendulum; moping, mad-as-hell, moping, mad-as-hell, moping, mad-as-hell...
The politicians will just say it is the Republican's fault. They delayed the Porkulus and reduced the amount.
They will just claim that there needs to be another round, and this time Republicans are to stay out of it.
You are correct.
This is only Porkulus 1.
LOL. I am simply mad as hell.
Too bad. It feels really good to be mad as hell.
I love girl scout cookies.
The question I would ask, for which I don’t have the answer, is if flushing a trillion dollars now is worth it if brings the country around to the understanding that government can’t solve this problem and will only make it worse. If conservative Republicans can hold the Dems feet to the fire and win back control over the next 4 to 8 years and bring back free market capitalism, will the 1 trillion have been a worthwhile investment?
It would just make me eat all the Girl Scout cookies, and then I'd have a stomach ache and owe the troop a lot of money!
We need a Darwinian flush!
I for one am invigorated. The creative juices are flowing at the idea of outsmarting the government ‘mandates and regulations’!
Liberalism is against human nature! Human nature longs to be free!
It’s like the 1970’s again (although many I ran with are now the ‘establishment’ collective. Traitors to freedom! Where’d all the ‘good’ hippies go?
I don’t do ‘collective’ that’s why I own a small business. That’s why I’m debt free and mobile!)
Weaving references to the works of George Lucas, Kipling, Schumpeter, Bobby Knight and Milton Friedman, Goldberg shows again why he’s a must-read for me.
Has Jonah been stalking Maxine again? TACKY!
Obama's fall from grace will arise from his junior high school handling of foreign policy.
Hillary won't last 2 years as Sec. State.
I think the recession will just end, like recessions always do, and unfortunately Porkulus will be given the credit.
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