War, Theft or Fraud?

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Bush the Second is responsible for many Problems in Our Midst, but one of the worst of them is the legacy of “compassionate” conservatism. Conservatism with a heart is the kind of conservatism that won’t ever veto anything, no matter how financially insane it might be, and consequently is the kind of conservatism that doesn’t conserve anything — not even the wellbeing of those we are supposedly being compassionate to. Call it the cruelty of compassionate conservatism. Being yanked around on the end of a rope is not my idea of compassionate treatment, and watching your retirement funds join the Choir Celestial doesn’t qualify either. But that was their story and they were sticking to it. When the disastrous inferno struck, the Republicans set up their paltry fire brigade with less than a trillion buckets filled with gasoline, and showed Obama the wisdom of going in with more than a trillion soon as he got his chance. The Democrats are always willing to use more buckets anyway, and the Republicans are always willing to do things that make it impossible for them to mount any kind of a moral critique. “You poured ten gallons of gasoline on the fire unnecessarily, instead of the five gallons that we did” is not really a political philosophy.

But all the fellows with egg-shaped heads in Washington concur that this kind of monga stimulus lunacy is “necessary” in order to “save our economy,” and I for one am not quite sure how much more saving our economy can stand. In the aftermath of the operation, the doctor will be talking to the widow in the waiting room, and gratefully announce that the operation was a success (the kidney did, in fact, come out), but also announce, regrettably, that the patient died.

Here is a quick reminder for everybody. When the lords of the earth roll out all this money that they are going to be distributing to us with loud whoops, there are only three basic ways for them to get it. Because, of course, before they give it to you, or to Citicorp, or to GM, or whoever, they must first obtain it somehow. I know, this is kind of “out there” economics, but work with me for a minute. In order to give it, they must first get it. How can the government get this money? They can take it from other countries, which is called war. They can take it from their own citizens, which is called taxes. Or they can print up a bunch of it, which inflates the currency, which is called, at least in my head, sneaky and reptilian taxes.

In order for a trillion dollars to flow into the economy, thus encouraging us to all buy some more flat screen teevees, a trillion dollars must be extracted from someplace. This is because (surprise!) the government doesn’t produce anything.

So allow me to illustrate the options. First, we could declare war on Canada, take all their stuff, and give it to Detroit. That’s one way. Second, we could raise taxes on everybody in Phoenix, take all their stuff, and give it to the folks in Detroit. That’s another way. The problem with these two options is that Canada and Arizona see what you are doing, and reject your altruistic attempts at Detroit-compassion. Some people are just like that.

So cowardly governments like ours almost always go for the third option. They warm up the printing presses, and start printing twenty dollar bills like they were going out of style and actually, come to think of it, they probably are. The economy gets flooded with a bunch of new money, and you have twice as much currency chasing the same amount of goods, which then gives the optical illusion of rising prices. It is actually the value of the dollar going down, which means that these sneaky taxes are being stuck to anyone who is enough of a chump to hang onto their cash for more than ten minutes. You know, like widows on fixed incomes and other types of people that Jesus taught us not to worry about. Ordinarily I wouldn’t give a sarcasm alert here, but these are strange times, and I don’t think that those who trust the masters of the universe at Treasury are to be trusted with the exegesis of a sarcastic comment that Christ didn’t really care about widows. Not only do we give the raspberry to the Lord’s teaching, we call it compassion. Perhaps I will write a book someday and call it The Audacity of Chutzpah.

So anyway, there are your basic options. If you support the stimulus packages, then you should be willing to check which box you think it should all come from — which shall it be? war, theft, or fraud?

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