At a family gathering this past weekend I encountered, as one does with family gatherings, a variety of viewpoints from folks spread across the nation. It provides a chance to avoid the vicious intellectual laziness which often plagues conservatives who are not challenged.
The topic of discussion centered on Obama’s economic plan, and I said that I couldn’t support Obama’s economic plan and expected it to fail. He responded, “Don’t you want him to succeed?!” Knowing that I gladly confess to the lordship of Christ over my life, he expected my undying support for our nation’s leader. But God does not only call us to love with all our heart, but also with all our mind.
And so, at that moment, a blisteringly true analogy arose in my mind and I said this:
Suppose that I borrowed 500 large [$500,000] from a loan shark named Knuckles, and I have two options. Option 1 is that I can save and budget and pay it of little by little. Option 2 is to pay it off in one lump sum. If I choose Option 1, I must be faithful to do it over the next several years and it won’t come due for a while. If I choose Option 2, it comes due tomorrow.
Then I see a man who has a small concrete pit. He claims he’s trying to pound this lead into gold to pay my debt. He says “Choose Option 2, because if I’ll pound this lead long enough, it will turn into gold.” Should I praise the guy’s efforts and refuse Option 1 in the hopes that Option 2 will suddenly prove to be a great success? Surely not, especially if I want Knuckes the loan shark not to break my legs!
Let’s review the historical record and see how Obama’s plan, deficit spending, has as much of a chance to save our economy as pounding lead to turn it into gold:
Keynesian economists (those who believe you can “deficit spend” and “jumpstart” the economy) have been rescued twice in the times it has been tried, but by private enterprise. The inflation begun in FDR’s programs was held at bay by the massive private enterprise which took off during WWII. Then we had a huge military industrial market that had nowhere to go after WWII. We maintained this and it somewhat staved off the effects of the weakened dollar, but not for long, because LBJ came in and offered the socialist “Great Society”, where we would declare war on hunger. He put tons of funding into government programs, and with the withdrawal from Vietnam in later years, we were left with climbing inflation and a bad economy. This resulted in Carter, who proposed exactly what Obama’s suggesting.
Carter’s choice was so wrong that he earned his own economic vocabulary term, stagflation. It nearly killed us because we really had no engagement of private enterprise to compensate for the fallacious Keynsian premises of Carter’s bailout.
Reagan took over and went full-out on the USSR, which staved the decline of the dollar. With the collapse of the USSR, and George H.W. Bush’s drawdown of the military, we lost the private enterprise directed at military Cold War spending which was keeping us afloat, a floatation which, in WWII and the Cold War, had masked the effects of the inherent fallacy of “government spending to rescue an economy.” Thus, we were set up for Clinton’s “It’s the economy, stupid” where he could point out the failing value of the dollar and blame it on conservative policies, when in reality it was bloated gov’t spending that had created the hole and private enterprise which had historically kept us from sinking any lower.
Now, we have Obama wanting to do the same thing: deficit spend, and on top of that he wants to pass huge taxes on corporate America, the only group which kept us financially stable during the previous failed attempts to do the same. I suggest that this is alchemy—hoping for something that can’t possibly work, with real consequences coming down the road, not just from Knuckles the loan shark, but from the generations to come.
Of course, then, I shouldn’t give Obama points for trying something that has no possibility of working, but I should stand firmly to convince him and others in the liberal leadership to change course, to promote the free market, and give up dreams of fixing this problem with the futility of deficit spending.