Think destroying the mighty economy of the United States is too big a job for you? Relax. Anyone can do it. A friend sent me a handy-dandy no-fuss 12-step program for wreaking financial havoc among even the world’s most advanced economies. I adapt it below for your edification. Your congressmen probably already have a copy. The White House certainly does. But you might want to print it out in case some opportunity for spreading unhappiness comes your way:
1. Since investors and the market in general hate uncertainty, have a vast array of conflicting ad hoc policy decisions so as to create uncertainty everywhere.
2. Transfer money from those who create sustainable jobs to those who create unsustainable jobs, e.g., the government
3. Promise to invest money in things that will enhance the country’s infrastructure, such as roads and internet access, but then practice bait and switch on a breathtaking scale, so the effort is swamped with pork for pet projects dear to Democrats
4. A sufficiently generous larding of pork can help ensure the destruction of bi-partisanship, so squandering the initial good will is definitely a very good move. After all, it’s hard to get things done when you’ve alienated people whose help you need.
5. Undermine the ability of those who create jobs by increasing their taxes so there’s less money available for investment.
6. While you’re at it, offer to spread the income around by raising taxes, in the process, making it clear to those who work hard, invest in their educations, take risks, save, and delay gratification that they will see their money go to those who do not do these things.
7. Encourage class warfare. Divide the populace and destroy cooperation, thus encouraging backlash and creating paralyzing polarization.
8. Talk up protectionism, since the beggar-thy-neighbor approach has such a long and vigorous history of encouraging depression.
9. Scare people with talk of economic catastrophe. You can backpedal later, but the initial good work of helping people lose confidence should have a lasting impact.
10. Print money on a scale that will insure inflation in the future. Print it on a scale that will make people not want to hold U.S. debt without staggering interest on that debt, if they’re willing to hold U.S. government debt at all.
11. Instead of allowing hopeless institutions to go bankrupt, pour vast amounts of money into them, prolonging the pain and running up the cost while only delaying the inevitable.
12. Burden future generations with unprecedented amounts of debt so that the eocnomy you ruined today stays ruined tomorrow.
My friend stresses that this list is not exhaustive. Ask your elected representatives for further tips. Or write to the White House: they have loads of ideas for making things worse. But be patient. Ruining the greatest economy the world has ever seen is not something you can do overnight. But it’s amazing, isn’t it, how much progress the President has made in less than two months? Five days before the election, he told his followers that they were that many days away “from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Poor things. They thought he intended to make America stronger. Fat chance.