Every politician running for office this year is claiming that he or she is a job creator, and that his or her opponents are job destroyers. The notion that any politician is responsible for the state of the economy is like blaming crop failures on the village odd balls, and then burning them as witches.
The Republicans are campaigning to convince voters that Democrats, especially President Barack Obama, are responsible for the lingering weak economy and must be removed from office before prosperity can return. Democrats employed the same tactic when Bill Clinton ran against Republican President George H.W. Bush — “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Yes, indeed, once we get rid of the witches, the economy will boom and everyone will have jobs again. So, let’s erect the stakes and gather the kindling. We have some incinerating to do.
That so many Americans believe politicians can substantially affect the economic climate is testament to how far America has succumbed to the nanny state mentality whereby government is responsible for everything — good and bad. While there certainly are broad government policies that can substantially affect the economy, they are no more predictably reliable to achieve their intended effect than are rain dances to break a drought. They are as much corollary as cause.
We have empirical evidence that government attempts to comprehensively manage economies are disastrous failures — e.g. the Soviet Union and Mao’s China. As well, there is empirical evidence that laissez faire, free-market economies descend into predatory monopolies that quash competition, ravage the environment and foster plutocracy. Today’s too-big-to-fail banks are atavisms of the big trusts Teddy Roosevelt broke up a century ago.
Yet, our political leaders and much of the public are deadlocked in endless squabbling over left and right ideologies on government and economics. The problem with left/right thinking is that it becomes religion that precludes logic and ignores facts and information that might refute its calcified, self-certain ideological positions.
Neither socialism nor capitalism is all good or all bad.
Germany and the Scandinavian nations have sound robust economies and are among the most advanced societies on Earth. Yet, they can all be classified as socialist states. America’s devout free-marketeers conveniently ignore this while presenting the troubled economies of southern Europe as evidence that any broad social welfare model of organizing society is inherently unsustainable and will lead to economic collapse. They warn that unless America rejects any kind of socialism and embraces pure, every-rat-for-himself, free-market capitalism the fate of Greece will befall America.
If devout conservatives are the freed for greed folks, devout liberals are the care and share folks who believe that government must establish and fund some acceptable baseline of economic well-being under which no citizen should be expected to fall. Of course, that baseline is always being pushed wider and higher by irresponsible politicians with the consequence that nearly everyone in America — from paupers to plutocrats — is the beneficiary of some form of government aid.
Eventually, there never seems to be enough tax money to support it all. So, government raises taxes and borrows more money. Politicians have so over promised government largesse that if they taxed the rich out of existence there wouldn’t be enough loot to cover the massive government shortfalls.
Greed is an affliction of left and right, rich and poor. The rich can never seem to get enough, nor can the poor who demand ever greater handouts from the welfare state. No matter where they are found along the economic food chain, Baby Boomers are indeed America’s greediest generation.
There is a solution to this economic predicament but it will not be found at either end of the left/right ideological scale. It might be found in balance between the two, or, with original thinking, it might be found outside of both. This incessant left/right nonsense is not moving us forward.
Before we become a nation of cynics losing all hope that we will ever again have effective, reasonable leadership, maybe reasonable people should form their own political action committee (PAC) dedicated to exposing the lies, banalities, and short logic of all political candidates. The PAC would run a barrage of fact-check ads during each election season that would examine the claims of all candidates, maybe shaming political scumbags into responsible, reasonable behavior while encouraging people of honor and reason to run for office.
There have got to be some good leaders out there somewhere.