The government can’t save you. But you can save you. Is life really that bad out there? I still don’t believe America is anywhere near the misery of the 1920s and 1930s.
I actually think Americans are still relatively wealthy. Even with cutting back, people have accumulated so much stuff, unnecessary stuff, that a couple year recession could take hold and people could maintain their currently obscene standard of living.
So, when there is talk of government bailouts and stimulus packages, what needs to be stimulated, exactly? People who are given something for nothing aren’t usually grateful for it. To quote Rihanna and TI:
Some move away to make a way not move away cause they afraid.
I’ll go back to the hood and all you ever did was take away.
Much to the chagrin of my friends, I enjoy hip-hop. This song is about making it, seeking after fame and money and the vagaries within. So a guy makes it, goes back, and people take. He counsels gratitude for what they do have, but no. They “chase paper”.
You know, the government will receive no more gratitude than a flush friend who’s generous should it decide to be the new Mommy Givebucks. People tend to be a whole lot more thankful for what they work for than what they’re given, no strings attached. This is not always the case. I’m reminded of the one (out of 10) blind men who came back and thanked Christ for restoring his sight. That ratio seems about right. Maybe 10% are grateful for what they’re given.
It is important for us, as citizens, to decide exactly when and how the government should be involved with being a safety net and what form that takes. A system that implodes under the weight of largess or steals from the next generation is not being generous but immoral. In order for there to be something around for later, those given to now should be deserving and actually helped, rather than be enslaved.
There are a whole host of government social programs, art funding, research projects and ego-enhancing public works. We don’t get something for nothing. Someone, you, is paying. What do you want to pay for?
Cross-posted at RightWingNews
The problem is, see, that Americans are too concerned about where their tax dollars are going. It’s none of their damn business. Please note the irony of Barney Frank being the chairman on this committee when it was his stupid policies that caused the bank implosion to begin with. But that’s ancient history. Today, he sits, without shame, questioning a Fed official who, without shame, thinks it better that Americans don’t know exactly which institutions have received 1.2 trillion dollars since September.
Iowahawk found the letters of a young Henry Paulson. The writing was on the wall:
July 12, 1956
Dear Mom and Dad,
How are you? I am very tired. Last night was the big snipe hunt so I am realy tired. It was realy dark and scarey but Jimmy and the other boys stayed close to me most of the time. We heard a lowd noise in the woods and Jimmy told me it was a snipe and that I shood go check it out. I got lost and scarred. When I got back there were cigaret buts and beer cans all over the ground. There was also a nauty lady magazine but I did’nt peek I promise. Jimmy said they must have been from the snipe. Jimmy says the really big snipes like drinking beer and little kids blood. I had a nitemare last night and cood’nt sleep. Jimmy says we can keep the snipes away from the camp if we just had enouf money for playboys and beer and cigarets. Please send me $25 dollars for snipe bate I dont want to die! Also please sent $8 to Mr. Beatty for a new mattress becase I wet the bed last nite realy bad.
CAMP WAPSIPINOCONOMOWAC WISCONSIN
“Where Boys Learn the Ways of Nature”
July 21, 1956
Dear Mom and Dad,
Thank you for the snipe money. All the kids in camp even the older boys say I am a hero for saving everybody from the snipes. I even get to sit at the big tabel at lunch time. When I was giving the snipe money envalope to Jimmy Mr. Beatty saw us and aksed what was going on. Jimmy told him and Mr. Beatty looked kind of funny. But then Mr. Beatty also said I was a hero to! And gave me a speshial hero badje!
Mr. Beatty said no more snipe hunts becuase it is to dangerus and these are exstra big snipes the kind that coold eat lots of kids. He said he and his grownup frends from the colege will keep watch out for the snipes but it will cost allot a exstra money for snipe traps and things. Mr. Beatty says $700 oght to do it. Please help!! The hole camp is in danger!!
Go read the whole thing. It all started benign enough. A few bucks here. A few bucks there.
But whatever your feeling about government intervention in the economy, or the correct level of income inequality, I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: for the world to get better, things that don’t work have to fail. We cannot keep alive every company, every car and every job that someone once liked, because that way lies stagnation and death. Places where production decisions are made based on how much labor they can consume, rather than how much value they can produce, make everyone in society worse off in the long run.
So while I fully understand the human cost (I think), it has to be borne, for the same reason we couldn’t save all the folks who loved their gentle home-weaving traditions, or their jobs making buggy whips. This is, of course, easy to say, when I am not bearing it. But I’m not against helping the auto workers transition to doing something else; I think unemployment assistance is a good idea, and should be extended during this crisis to at least 52 weeks. I would be fine with a job training program, if we could find one that works (so far, government training programs seem to run from useless to actively harmful). I’d be happy to take some of the money we aren’t using bailing out auto companies, and offer relocation assistance to people who are trapped in factory towns.
I understand that this is not what the auto workers want; they want their jobs. But while I am happy to help the auto workers, I am not happy to help them manufacture undesireable cars at massive social cost. I too, would have liked to keep my job as a management consultant. But I didn’t have a right to have the job I wanted merely because I liked it. And it wouldn’t have been good for America if I had.
The brutal reality with sick patients is that sometimes the doctors have to talk with all involved and say,”I’m sorry, there is nothing more we can do.” Every once in a while, a patient manages to survive, sometimes by going alternative routes. It would be a great thing for the American car companies to survive, but it would be rewarding corporations that have spent a lifetime living with very bad habits and suffering slowly degenerative disease to attempt to save them. Rehabilitation is unlikely and the taxpayer shouldn’t be paying the bills. (Although, in the interest in accuracy, the car companies are asking for low-interest loans, not free money.)
Ironically, now, as the car companies lay gasping on the gurneys, the Union bosses note that it’s not management that has killed the patient, but external bugs–like high gas prices and the economic downturn. From the Wall Street Journal:
For decades, the UAW waged bitter battles with management over wages, benefits, executive pay and jobs. Only a year ago, the union called short strikes against GM and Chrysler during their contract negotiations a year ago, and Mr. Gettelfinger suggested top executives earnings millions were “hogs slopping at the trough of corporate greed” while trying to force workers to bear the brunt of cost cuts.
Now, with GM at risk of collapse, the union representing about 150,000 U.S. auto workers is joining forces with the companies in a blitzkrieg public campaign to plead for a federal bail out. Although Mr. Gettelfinger rarely talks to the media aside from local radio stations in Detroit, he has reached out over the weekend to make the union’s viewpoint clear.
Although GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner has come under heavy criticism, Mr. Gettelfinger said a change in management is not needed. “”It’s a stretch to say that management is responsible for all of the things happening now that no one anticipated or expected,” he said.
That’s a shift from the past when union rhetoric typically pointed the finger at management mistakes as the main reason for Detroit’s troubles.
Huge shift, indeed. Meanwhile, the Democrats want the government to have a stake in the auto industry. Isn’t socialism state-owned companies? First the financial sector and now the manufacturing sector.
Of course, letting the Big Three go, means that their suppliers go, their employees go, the union goes, etc. Or, it could mean that. Filing bankruptcy is what an individual in their situation would have to do. How will individuals or corporations modify their behavior if they don’t pay the consequences for their behavior?
If I had to wager, I’d bet that the car companies get their money. It’s symbolic, even if Americans don’t want it. Will the UAW finally recognize that their practices kill productivity? Will executives slash the bureaucracy? Will Detroit finally build a BMW-esque engineered car with Apple like innovation?
Color me cynical, but my guess is no. And that’s why, the patient should be allowed to die.
UPDATED: More here.
Do you have an employee or two? Are you an employee at a small business? If you answer yes to either question, you’ll want to read this from the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Obama’s tax increase would hit the bottom line of small businesses in three direct ways. First, because 85% of small business owners are taxed at the personal income tax rate, any moderately successful business with an income above as little as $165,000 a year could face a higher tax liability. That’s the income level at which the 33% income tax bracket now phases in for individuals, and Mr. Obama would raise that tax rate for those businesses to 36%.
Second, the Obama plan phases out tax deductions (the so-called PEP and Pease provisions), thus raising tax rates imposed on this group by another 1.5 percentage points. Finally, Mr. Obama would require many small business owners to pay as much as a four-percentage-point payroll tax surcharge on net income above $250,000. All of this would bring the federal marginal small business tax rate up to nearly 45%, while big business would continue to pay the 35% corporate tax rate.
Add that to increasing capital gains taxes and small business owners are doubly punished. They will be taxed more and they will be forced to keep their money stuck.
Guess what will happen? Small business owners will freeze hiring and probably have to fire employees and replace them with cheaper labor or none at all. People employed by small businesses should run from Barack Obama’s plans to help them. Unless a person with a job wants to live on government handouts–you know enjoying the wealth being spread around–vote John McCain.
Obama is right. It’s about J-O-B-S.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News