by R. Cort Kirkwood by R. Cort Kirkwood
Once one understands government and the managerial elite that runs it, nearly every utterance from every prattling politician sounds patently preposterous.
The politicians and their hirelings, the bureaucrats, claim special knowledge of the answer to this woe or that affliction. Only they can provide the palliative. Both cannot be right, and indeed both are always wrong.
So it was with our president's recent assertion that the economy is "showing signs of promise," and his pledge to break bread with the looters in Congress to help keep the promise.
It was as if John Gotti promised to stop crime with the help of his Gambino family. It rings hollow.
Speaking in Kansas City, Mo., the clairvoyant president told the audience how Americans feel because "our economy is starting to grow again."
"Americans are feeling more confident," he divined, and "I am determined to work with the United States Congress to turn these hopeful signs into lasting growth and greater prosperity and more jobs."
Our first reaction to that should be "Heaven help Us," but anyway, Bush also included this cloudy remark: "Our military campaigns and the war on terror have cost our treasury and our economy, yet they have prevented greater costs."
Only someone familiar with the empty lacunae of the Bush brain would know what he meant by "greater costs," but be assured he wasn't thinking of the men needlessly maimed and killed since the war in Iraq "ended" in May.
They are "lesser" costs.
All Politicians Are Statists
But back to the economy and what politicians and bureaucrats "should do about it."
Politicians believe government can manage the economy. They endlessly debate arcane policies that no one understands or cares about. The cant about "programs," and why this one works or why that one doesn't, never ends. Both claim a monopoly on the invention of policies and programs that "work."
But they don't work. Otherwise, the bureaucrats, along with many of the economics and political writers at newspapers, would be jobless. And presidents wouldn't need to boost our morale with talk of "promising signs" coddled with more "reforms." National prosperity wildly fluctuates because government policy is volatile and cosmically stupid, and where it manipulates the economy in one area it inevitably and adversely affects another.
Bush can warble about the "promising" economy and "stimulating" tax cuts all he wants. But a free-market economy cannot operate properly with Leviathan's socialist controls, meaning the punitive taxes, subsidies and regulatory apparatus that supposedly "help" us.
Government Can't Plan
The modern conservative Republican, like the liberal Democrat, is an unswerving statist at best and open socialist at worst. Where the Democrats talk about fairness and promise welfare for their constituency of freeloaders, Republicans talk about prosperity and promise tax cuts for their constituency of subsidized plutocrats.
They agree on one thing: Government must plan the economy.
The Medicare debate and hysterics after the blackout across the Northeast are two recent examples. Surprisingly, no one called for nationalizing electric power outright, although reforms will creep in that direction.
In all debates, Bush and his GOP are a more treacherous enemy because they claim to work for beleaguered taxpayers. Republicans talk tax cuts, then exclude the other side of the equation: dismantling government.
Yet only that will give us what we want and need: a prosperous free-market economy.
Government shouldn't be reformed; it should be razed.
Syndicated columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va.