Skip to comments.Santa Claus Politics
Posted on 01/01/2008 4:27:05 AM PST by Kaslin
Senator Hillary Clinton's Christmas commercial, showing various government programs as presents under a Christmas tree, was a classic example of calculated confusion in politics.
Anyone who believes that the government can give the country presents has fallen for the oldest political illusion of all -- the illusion of something for nothing.
Santa Claus may turn out to be the real front-runner in the primaries, judging by the way candidates are vying with one another to give away government goodies to the voters.
Santa Claus is bipartisan. The Bush administration is unveiling its plan to rescue people who gambled and lost in the housing markets when the bubble burst.
We now have a bipartisan tradition of the government stepping in to rescue people who engaged in risky behavior -- whether by locating in the known paths of hurricanes in Florida or in areas repeatedly hit by wildfires over the years in California or by doing things that increase the probability of catching AIDS.
Why not also rescue people who gambled away their life's savings in Las Vegas? That would at least be consistent.
Apparently the only people who are supposed to be responsible are the taxpayers -- and they are increasingly made responsible for other people's irresponsibility.
Military conscription is long gone. But taxpayers are still being conscripted to play Santa Claus.
If taking our money and wasting it -- or, rather, using it to buy votes -- was all the damage that politicians did to the economy, that would be Utopia compared to all the damage they actually do.
What's more, politicians can picture themselves as the solutions to our economic problems, when in fact they are the biggest economic problem of all.
To this day, there are people who believe that the market economy failed when the stock market crashed in 1929 and that the Great Depression of the 1930s that followed required government intervention.
In reality, the stock market crashed by almost exactly the same amount on almost the same day in 1987 -- and 20 years of prosperity, low inflation and low unemployment followed.
What was the difference?
Politicians -- first President Hoover and then President Roosevelt -- decided that they had to "do something" after the stock market crash of 1929.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan decided to do nothing -- despite bitter criticisms in the media -- and the economy recovered on its own and kept on growing.
o people who think the government should "do something" -- and this includes most of the media -- it would never occur to them to compare the actual track record of what happens when the government does something and what happens when it lets the market adjust by itself.
Back in 1971, President Richard Nixon responded to widespread demands that he "do something" about rising prices by imposing wage and price controls that got him re-elected in a landslide. Moreover, the later damage to the economy was seldom blamed on those price controls.
Recently, Professor N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, noted that people in Congress and the White House were wondering what they should do about the current economic situation. His suggestion: "Absolutely nothing."
It is not just free market economists who think the government can do more harm than good when they intervene in the economy. It was none other than Karl Marx who referred to "crackbrained meddling by the authorities" that can "aggravate an existing crisis."
Ronald Reagan and Karl Marx did not have much in common, except that they had both studied economics.
After the departure of Senator Phil Gramm and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Congress has been an economics-free zone. There is not one economist among the 535 members of Congress.
But, in an election year, that is not a political handicap. Santa Claus has won far more elections than any economist.
Too darned sensible! Hats off to Mr Sowell once again. He is required Republican reading material.
Anyone gullible enough to believe that government can deliver all these goodies is delusional. We have lots of gullible Americans and even Republicans want their "entitlements" to keep coming.
That commercial sums up American liberalism perfectly.
It is an argument for Fred or Duncan for president.
Happy New Year
Bumping the clear thinking of Dr. Sowell.
I'm honestly surprised that no politician has offered this up as an idea. My guess is that there are not enough people who have lost their life savings in Las Vegas to make for a viable political constituency.
On the other hand, people with student loan problems are starting to number in the sizes need to form a promising constituency. I think in a few years, we'll see at least one presidential candidate offer some sort of student loan bailout plan as a campaign promise.
The Santa Claus thing was exactly what I thought when I saw her commercial. However, she won’t buy the gifts, WE WILL! It was disgusting!!!
Thomas Sowell is on of the brightest, and most concise writers in the country when it comes to economics. In this column he also shows a good understanding of history.
For those who would like more information on the Great Depression, see the recent, excellent book by Amity Schlaes, which patiently lays out how foolish government policies were in the 1930s, and how they prolonged the Depression, and left us with a heritage of Social Security and a raft of other bad policies and bad habits, all touted by the media (and in your public schools!) as the story of how FDR “brought us through the Depression.” (He then “brought us through the war,” and messed up that, too.)
In all fairness to FDR, I think he did the best he could during World War 2, even though he will forever be the absolute worst president in regards to domestic policy. I credit FDR for starting our nuclear weapons program. It was too bad that we did not have a usable weapon until 1945. If we had had nuclear weapons in 1942, we could have ended World War 2 in hours, not years, and lost far fewer lives in the process.
I also believe that had we had nuclear weapons early on in World War 2, it would have prevented the USSR from occupying Eastern Europe after the war. I do disagree with FDR's "selling out" of Eastern Europe to the Soviets, but I think that decision was only made out of pragmatism, as we needed their help to defeat Germany (as we did not have nuclear weapons).
Not me, Dr. Sowell.
Wait ‘til CON-gress “fixes” the sub-prime mortgage problem and the up and coming sub-prime auto loan problem (Upside down in your car loan? Don’t worry, big mommy gov’t will fix it!)
This is a great piece. Thanks.
What a great message. Too bad we cannot get more Americans to subscribe to the message.
Here’s a warm SANTA Salute 2-U...
had we had nuclear weapons early on in World War 2, it would have prevented the USSR from occupying Eastern Europe after the war. I do disagree with FDR's "selling out" of Eastern Europe to the Soviets, but I think that decision was only made out of pragmatism, as we needed their help to defeat Germany (as we did not have nuclear weapons).
First, FDR was a failed president in the sense that in his first two terms he failed to get the country going again and he failed to prevent WWII. All other presidents are judged on at most two terms, and FDR was in that sense a monumental failure.
Second, if you read The New Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II you will have no illusions that anything the US did that helped the USSR to our detriment was an accident.
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