Is This America's Dark Knight?

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In
last year’s hit movie, The
Dark Knight
, there is a classic scene between Alfred and
Bruce Wayne. A befuddled Bruce cannot figure out what the Joker
is actually trying to gain, and he is sharing his consternation
with Alfred. Alfred responds by telling Bruce that some men are
just different and, in one of the great lines of the movie, states
bluntly, "Some men just want to see the world burn."

While it is
quite early on in the new administration’s term in office, it appears
to be behaving in exactly this way. Obama is playing the part of
the Joker to perfection, aided and abetted by the likes of Nancy
Pelosi and Harry Reid. The only difference being that, instead of
wearing a clown’s face, he has chosen to look promising and speak
lofty words of nothingness as he and the other Democratic leaders
push the nation ever closer to economic collapse.

Ignoring any
sound economic principles, these leaders have carved a path of prodigality
unmatched in American history. It seems as if they desire the total
economic failure of the country.

To be sure,
the Bush administration has left the nation ravaged by its excess
spending and monetary expansion that undergirded the housing bubble.
Indeed, during his eight years in office, federal spending ballooned
from $1.8 trillion per year to nearly $3 trillion. That is a 67%
increase! But while Bush radically expanded the size and scope of
government, Obama and the Democrats plan the absolute explosion
of it. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this year’s
federal spending will top $3.5 trillion, with a deficit in excess
of $1 trillion. And this number was forecasted prior to the
passage of the so-called "stimulus bill."

Imagine Bush
as a drunken sailor in port for the first time in a year. He goes
into a casino in Atlantic City, sits down at a thousand-dollar-a-hand
blackjack table, and promptly loses a million dollars. Obama comes
in as Bush’s replacement, and the casino seats him in Bush’s old
chair. While bemoaning the situation, Obama tells us we must end
this failed policy by moving up to the ten-thousand-a-hand
table and doubling down. Of course, this makes no sense whatsoever,
and the sane person would quickly back away. But sanity appears
not to be present anywhere in Washington these days.

For
far too long now, we have allowed our leaders to take us in this
direction. In earlier days our leaders did so mainly to line their
own pockets and those of their favored friends. These days, however,
it seems that they are merely driven by their own ideological madness.
And we have been too busy to pay enough attention to understand
the situation and to resist it. Neither Bush nor Obama could do
the things they have done or are doing had there not been a long
history of governmental abuses. To not understand this now will
lead to even greater abuse in the future.

"If there
is any hope for our economic future, we must come to a sound understanding
of what got us here. "This was my motivation for my new book,
titled Unmasking
the Sacred Lies
. I wanted to help busy Americans come to
grips with the current economic situation and to understand the
long political process of change that has led us here.

If there is
to be any hope for our economic future, we must come to a sound
understanding of what got us here. With that in mind, I put together
a book that paints the big picture. It traces the economic history
of each policy area in order to demonstrate how each law passed
by Congress and enforced by our government has pushed us into this
hole that we find ourselves in today.

It is my firm
belief that providing the average person with the right information
in a readily understandable format can make a difference. I only
hope that it is not too late, and that we do not have to watch America
burn.

This article
first appeared on Mises.org.

March
12, 2009

Paul Cleveland
[send him mail] teaches economics
at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama. See his article
archives at Mises.org
.

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