By Alan Caruba
Not since Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy has this nation had a President so blessed with the gift of oratory.
There is no doubt that, if words alone could lift this nation out of its current financial crisis, its wars, and other problems, President Barack Obama could make that happen.
We need, therefore, to cast our eyes backwards to those earlier presidents to remind us that, for all his eloquence, his power to encourage and inspire Americans, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not resolve the Great Depression and, indeed, prolonged it with a misguided New Deal. Inaugurated in 1933, he was still struggling when World War II began for the United States in 1941.
As John F. Kennedy urged us to ask not what the country could do for us, but what we could do for our country, it was mere months before the die was cast for growing U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Other than the space program, his administration was a series of stumbles. His assassination eliminated any further opportunity to judge his brief term in office.
So oratory is a fine thing and our new President delivered a fine speech. But! If Americans discover that we are in for a “first 100 days” that involves a great flurry of ill-conceived, ill-considered, and utterly political legislation, we will rue the day we gave power to him and those on Capitol Hill.
“There are some who question the scale of our ambitions,” said President Obama. He’s right because the greatest failures always follow an excess of ambition. It happens to individuals and it happens to nations.
The proposed stimulus bill reeks of all the errors and ills of FDR’s New Deal programs that wasted millions paying farmers not to plant crops, fixing prices within industries to kill competition while driving up the cost of goods, and initially handing out money without requiring that people work to earn it.
The proposed $825 billion “stimulus package” is pure pork. It has no more relationship to economic recovery than previous efforts. The real change America needs is for government to stop interfering with the marketplace of goods and services.
When Congress gets out of the way of business and industry, you will have recovery.
When it stops paying farmers not to plant crops, as it continues to do, you will have recovery.
When it puts a stop to the lawsuits and laws that stop or slows every form of development in favor of some unknown species of insect or reptile, you will see recovery.
When it permits our vast natural resources of coal, natural gas, and oil to be extracted and sold as energy for America, you will see recovery.
Called the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill”, the proposed bill includes $650 million to help Americans upgrade to digital cable after the transition on February 17th. In what possible way does this help the economy? It is pork.
While surely there are structures in cities and towns in America that could use an upgrade, $44 million will be spent to repair and improve the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. All manner of taxpayer money will be lavished on a panoply of government agencies, all standing in line with their tin cups.
As Ronald Reagan said, “Government isn’t the answer to our problems. Government is the problem.”
There will be $1.2 billion to provide day care services to 300,000 additional low-income children since clearly both parents will have to work in order to put food on the table. It is pork.
$1.2 billion to create an estimated one million summer jobs for young people. It is pork.
And $6.2 billion to weatherize the homes of low-income people to make them “more energy efficient.” It is pork.
It probably passed unnoticed, but the President’s promise to “roll back the specter of a warming planet” is quite possibly the worst indicator of what his new administration plans to do to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars and countless new regulations.
The Earth is dramatically cooling. There is no global warming. Why is the new President talking about “a warming planet”?
As just one more example of the endless list of items taxpayer money to be wasted, the most egregious is $2.4 billion for “projects demonstrating carbon-capture technology.” There is no need to “capture” carbon dioxide, a gas that plays virtually no role whatever in climate change. The oceans of the world have been doing that for more than five billion years.
After the oratory comes the reality. If, as a nation our elected representatives act, based on the failed politics and policies of the past, economic reality will swiftly become painfully apparent and all the speeches in the world will not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.