Your Lying Eyes

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14 January 2008

What a Choice

As the United States grew from a small agrarian society in the late 18th century into an industrial world power by 1900, the Presidency boasted an astonishingly mediocre gallery of chief executives. Occasionally a dynamo would sneak in, but invariably with these outsized personalities also came an ill-conceived or disastrous war, so the people ended up not minding so much how undistinguished the rest of them were.

As the years have gone by and all the debts have long since been paid and all the war dead long-since buried (along with everyone else alive at the time) we tend to view these wars rather fondly. Even the War of 1812, most assuredly the stupidest thing this country has ever done since it very nearly cost us the nation itself, is celebrated in film and song for the post-bellum victory at New Orleans. And the Spanish-American war, another pointless enterprise, is typically not thought of at all, even though it led to a 15-year Iraq-like insurgency in the Philippines. And however we view it now, we all understand the Hell that that great conflict visited upon these lands. So people probably were relieved when a lightweight (and pipsqueak) like Benjamin Harrison took the reins.

The major presidential candidates we have to choose from today pretty much guarantee that our next president will fit in well with his (or her) 19th century predecessors. The bad news is that mediocre is no longer synonymous with uneventful, as George Bush has made abundantly clear. The White House is one awesome seat of power, and the dumber or crazier its inhabitant the more problems he can create.

The problem is that we have a government that does so much and it does everything poorly. Look at lending. The lending industry should be simple - you have money to lend, you take a look at the applicant, he looks like a good credit risk, you lend him money. But the government decided that banks for some bizarre reason didn't like making money and so wouldn't lend money to worthy creditors because they didn't like the way they looked, and so decided it had to micro-manage the lending process. Well, whaddayaknow, banks decided they didn't like that end of the business so much and farmed out the dirty work to brokers, and now we find that these supposedly credit-worthy customers that banks were callously refusing to lend money to are now on the verge of bringing the world economy to a standstill.

So what do we think President Obama or Clinton are going to do about the subprime loan debacle? Tell banks to only lend to good credit risks and forget all this nonsense about how many loans originate in what neighborhood? Fat chance. And of course, under President Clinton/Obama, the federal government can then apply its magic touch to all other areas where the people who vote for Obama and Clinton can get more money from the people who don't.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidates (except Ron Paul) are falling over each other to assure the American people that Iran is a greatest threat to world peace on the order of Hitler/Tojo and that we are fighting World War III (or IV, I lose count) and that we need to fight Islamofascism abroad so that we can allow thousands of Mulim college students to study here and overstay their visas, all of which will be paid for by corporate income tax cuts that will pay for themselves. And Ron Paul, who sensibly has no interest in getting involved in anyone else's problems abroad, wants to return to the gold standard and opposes mandatory vaccinations here at home.

But perhaps I'm way off - maybe one of these candidates is going to do some really sensible, useful things once in office - I'm all ears.


Blogger Glaivester said...

And Ron Paul, who sensibly has no interest in getting involved in anyone else's problems abroad, wants to return to the gold standard and opposes mandatory vaccinations here at home.

The first is a good idea, and the second is largely irrelevant, as mandatory vaccinations are decided by states, not the feds.

January 19, 2008 10:26 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

I think going back to the gold standard is way too risky - the current monetary system has worked fine now that we've had a good run of responsible Fed chiefs.

And I'd rather we didn't have a president who encourages people to think that their fear of vaccinations is anything short of lunacy.

January 20, 2008 11:35 PM  

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