Roger’s Rules

"Planned Economy or Planned Destruction?," Take 2

OK, so I have had occasion to share this educational cartoon from The Chicago Tribune 21 April 1934 before. But memories are short and, as André Gide once put it, ““Toutes choses sont dites déjà, mais comme personne n’écoute, il faut toujours recommencer.”

When I first posted this cartoon, back in March of 2009, the U.S. economy was still in a state of shock from the great implosion of 2008 (March 5, 2009, the Dow closed at 6594) but there was lots of soothing talk emanating from Washington. “Just give me $800 billion, right now, today,” said the President, “and we will ‘invest’ in America and ‘stimulate’ the economy.” Give him a chance, NPR-The New York Times-MSNBC said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” etc., etc.

Well, we know how that worked out. Washington spent billions upon billions of your dollars “investing” in “green jobs,” the American auto industry, etc., and what do we have to show for it? Last month, Government Motors sold 125 of their new novelty auto, the Chevy Volt. No, that is not a typo: one hundred and twenty five. In other words, basically none.

Let’s face it: Barack Obama’s policies have been an economic disaster. Ideology met reality and reality won.

Back in February 2009, writing about Rick Santelli, the man who gave the tea party its name, I had this to say:

There been a lot of talk about the current President of the United States looking for a “Swedish solution” for the crisis in the banking industry. A depressing prospect, that. But I think Mr. Santelli touches on another real danger to the US economy, even worse than the Swedish solution, namely the Cuban Catastrophe. I don’t think the current President of the United States is going grow and beard and start donning combat fatigues (too much Harvard for that). But his policies just might tip the mighty US economy over into a serious and protracted decline.

Practical economics is not about “fairness” (one of the current President’s favorite words) or “spreading-the-wealth-around” (the ultimate aim of his domestic policy). Practical economics is about the creation of wealth, not the redistribution of wealth. A rising tide floats all boats. More wealth means more jobs, greater prosperity for everyone.

We learned these lessons in the 1980s, reaped their benefits in the 1990s and beyond: do we really need to go back to economic kindergarten and relearn them?

We’ve already suffered through Lyndon Johnson’s disastrous “Great Society” wrecking ball and Jimmy Carter’s flailing incompetence once. Do we really have to go through it again? Haven’t we learned anything about the place that the road paved with good intentions leads?

Well, have we?