Return to Economic Sanity
I went down to the Jersey Shore last weekend, and I got to talk to a small businessman trying to make it in the Obama economy. You big dogs sitting in your bunkers along the commanding heights might like to lend an ear. We might all learn something from "Bob".
Bob runs a small franchise selling blinds and window coverings to homeowners in Pennsylvania about half way between New York and Philadelphia. He says that his customers are deeply affected by high gas prices. And he concurs with PJ Media's John Ransom that a big factor in the 2008 meltdown was high oil prices. When gas prices are up, Bob's commuter customers, who live where homes are cheapest, can't afford to buy blinds and fix up their homes.
Bob shakes his head at the last frothy years of the real-estate bubble. Young guys would tell him how home prices would go up forever, he reminisced. We agreed on the folly of 100 percent loans after years of price increases, and the madness of strict regulation of credit after prices have collapsed.
Bob's business was badly hit by the Great Recession, as you can imagine. But it hasn't been all bad. Back before the crash he employed about three to four employees. Now he's doing half the business with no employees. You do the math. But the best thing about no employees is that he doesn't have to do all the payroll and paperwork any more. And the iPhone, and the iPad on the dash. Can you imagine, he said. The state had a form for you to tell them how you'd improved your business in the last month.
It's amazing what you can learn by talking with people on the front lines. It inspired me to work up a quick Three Point Plan. My plan proposes a Return to Sanity. First of all, on energy, let's Drive Down Gas Prices. Second, on finance, let's Return to Sound Money. Third, let's Simplify the Safety Net.
None of this is rocket science. It's all basic common sense. But then there are liberals wanting to save us from fossil fuels, give helpless victims "affordable housing" and a bureaucratic social safety net -- which is neither social nor safe.
Listen up, liberals. Energy makes the world go round, and we are just going to have to drive right through you and your hokey pseudo-religious save-the-planet nonsense to get back to energy sanity. This nation needs fracking, pipelines, natural gas exports. But above all it needs an end to green energy subsidies and crony corruption. Then we can get gas prices down to ease the burden on those outer-suburb commuters and create jobs.
Get a clue, liberals. Your Keynesian inflationism is more hokey pseudo-science. Your "affordable housing" insanity gave loans to people that couldn't afford them, and ending up ruining their lives as they got evicted from the dream houses that turned into nightmares. Listen folks. Here's a weird trick about finance that liberals don't want you to know. Liberals like Keynesianism because it's how they pitch the government out of an economic jam: print more free money.
But let's talk about the big issue: fixing the cruel and unjust safety net. Remember a year ago when liberals were all riled up about the sequester and all the poor helpless government employees that would get laid off?
Here's a concept. The government safety net is the sequester on steroids, because its design and execution cruelly sequesters the savings of America's workers so they never get to use it when they need it. The FICA tax says that liberals will sequester workers' wages for 40 years, and then the grateful worker gets a pension. Unemployment, worker's comp, disability: liberals will sequester the money until the worker "needs" it.
Here's how it ought to work. When a worker is young, he could use the sequestered money to start a business or buy a home; but on the current system liberals get to use the money to buy votes instead. If a worker loses a job or gets hurt on the job then he gets to collect, but since it's not his money, he doesn't hesitate to scam the system: have you seen the explosion in the Social Security Disability Insurance program? Meanwhile liberals use the sequestered money to buy votes.
How about we simplify the safety net so that the money always belongs to the worker, and liberals never get to sequester the money and use it to buy votes and pay off their crony capitalist pals?
Let's call this the First Step on the Road to Sanity. Let's do it for Bob. And the children.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism. Get his Road to the Middle Class.