America's Gorbachev

Looks as if the USA is starting to look at lot like the old USSR. If you remember back to the 1980’s, the Soviet Union was in crisis. Their military was losing in Afghanistan, their economy imploding, and even life spans were in decline. Just like us now. Obviously, things are not going too well.

So, what is our response? Our best and brightest elite in DC are doing everything within their power to maintain the status quo. So to please the lobbyists who elected them, they are embarking on a spending spree of trillions, yes, trillions of dollars.

We are told that all will be well if they just keep on doing what they have been doing. But doing what they have been doing got us to this crisis in the first place. So just maintaining course is not an answer, and certainly speeding up is not much of a good idea either.

But look at some of the facts on the ground. In the last few months the best congress that money can buy has approved a 700 billion bailout to Wall Street, while the FED has disbursed trillions of dollars to whom? Well, we still don’t know. Meanwhile, the largest defense budget was passed, no actually rubber stamped by congress to fund one unpopular war (Iraq) and to escalate another hopeless war (Afghanistan).

We are told first that "the sky is falling" (bailout phase one), and then "trust us" (bailout phase two), to the mantra now, we must "save the economy" (bailout phase three).

Yet, all that has happened so far is that we have saved such icons as Bear Stearns, AIG, and Citigroup so they can continue to operate with the same corruption, greed, and hubris that has already failed them. Then, we the people (read taxpayers) get to foot the bill.

It is said that they are "too big to fail," and thus deserving of our largess. When they make profits, well they keep them. When the lose money, hey, we pay for it. This is simply the most egregious version of "heads I win, tails you lose," that’s ever been seen. Yet, we the American people have really had no say in the matter.

No, you say, it can’t be that bad. No it can’t, not yet anyway. Meanwhile it is now GM, Ford and Chrysler who have come cap in hand to DC. Why? Well, they are too big to fail too! Gee, what’s wrong with this? Maybe the problem is we have too many firms that are too big to fail. Maybe the solution is to not have firms that can hold us hostage in the first place.

I for one think a bit of a reality check is in order. Our enlightened government needs to borrow 3 billion dollars a day to keep the USSA afloat. By next year this may be much more. Yet, where is this money going to come from? Will these generous foreigners keep buying what will soon be worthless paper (treasuries) just to keep us afloat?

What about the American people? Can they continue to remain passive while their children and grandchildren are bankrupted? I don’t think so.

So it looks like Barack the Blessed will inherit a sinking ship. Sure, we have Captain Bush and his merry regime to thank, but the fact is, we are in more trouble than even the "enlightened one" can handle.

Meanwhile, Obama has chosen the same best and the brightest who have gotten us into this mess in the first place. Larry Summers, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Rubin, and others are of the same gang who clamored to repeal the Glass-Steagal act, and deregulate Wall Street. The same who helped to pave the wave to consolidation of the media, so we are now left with different versions of Pravda, mouthpieces for the mainstream, but not of the mainstream.

What can Obama do? Not much really. He will construct the largest most extravagant ‘roads’ in history, all paved by good intentions. He will get as many people back to work as he can. He will surely fail. For the market will eventually re-assert itself. All the incentives in the world cannot make bad loans become good, or obsolete cars to be sold, or create productive jobs by mandate.

Obama is presiding over the meltdown of an unsustainable economic and political system. He like Gorbachev before him, will believe he can reform the status quo from within. Well, that is like trying to raise the Titanic for a second voyage. It is costly and unworkable. Sure, it is possible that some things will actually succeed in the short term. And, I hope that Obama makes some good decisions for the American people.

But the writing is on the wall. The world seems to be acting now as if the US is no longer calling the shots. Whether in Latin America where they are now holding summits that include Cuba, and excludes America. Or in Asia, where Japan, China and South Korea now hold summits without US involvement, they have decided to get on without us.

At least Obama will put a smiley face on bad policies, and he represents something new and a bit fresh. Since Obama will most likely be President for two terms, I imagine he will do much to repair the damage of his predecessor. He may even be at times popular, and respected.

Yet, like the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, he only has the desire to adjust direction, and he doesn’t have the power to reverse course. But like those before him from both parties, they really believe that they know what they are doing, and in the ultimate arrogance, believe that they are the source of solutions to our current problems.

The fact, as Reagan so eloquently spoke is "that Government is the problem." Almost every major predicament and disaster befalling the country is due to our federal government. The only reason the country can carry on so long is that there are still pockets of freedom left to create wealth and relate to the world without having to shoot them first.

Our health care and defense industries weigh heavily on us now and in the future. The corrupt self-serving elite in New York have been instrumental in running the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, while the SEC sleeps. They now have Madoff as their poster boy. Then there is Rumsfeld and company enabling the embezzlement of billions of taxpayer dollars into no-bid contracts for Iraq. These are simply the symptoms of a sick patient, who has been systematically harmed by government policies.

When we see the scandal surrounding the Governor of Illinois, and his efforts to sell Obama’s Senate seat, we are shocked. Really? Maybe he is par for the course. Certainly Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel knew what was going on? Maybe even Barack the Blessed himself, God forbid.

There is only one solution to our many problems. We need to regain the sovereignty of the country back. That means close down Washington DC. Let the states have the power and money, let control back where it belongs – locally. Let there be competitive state-run solutions to our problems, not the one-size-fits-all mandate from DC.

Maybe he can see us through the turmoil in a way where the country sees its dignity returned. If by the next election we are out of Iraq and Guantanamo is closed, at least we can say we are a country of some ideals, again. Sure, it may not happen, or Obama will get us into even more quagmires like Sudan, Somalia, or Pakistan. But at least we have Obama, hey we’ve got perestroika, we are changing. Or may I should call him Gorbama? Or maybe Obamachev?

Right about now its time to say God Bless America, and hope there really is a God, and that now, he is on actually our side.

January 10, 2009