Politics is the process of planning, organizing, and implementing the means necessary to initiate threats and acts of aggression on an ongoing basis.
A good theory has predictive power. A prediction doesn’t automatically make a theory true, but it’s a good first test in my opinion.
Quite a while ago, I made the case, based on praxeological reasoning, why bureaucracy can’t ever accomplish its stated objectives in the long run.
Based on that theory I suggested many times over that government stimulus programs will not be a panacea to economic sluggishness, quite the contrary.
In particular I wrote almost 3 years ago:
The $800 billion spending bill that is currently being discussed will not fix the US economy.
This bill was never [Obama’s] bill. It was the Congressional Democrats’ bill, led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Now Obama has made it his bill. All the scandals, wasteful projects and corruption that will be uncovered under the projects funded by it will be associated with him.
To ignore [those who oppose it] would be the biggest mistake Obama could make now.
If he continues doing it, the political retaliation will ensue sooner or later in the next Congressional elections and maybe in the next presidential elections. This is an unnecessary, harmful, and avoidable political gamble.
Here we are, almost 3 years later, with an unemployment rate higher than it was at the time (~9% now vs. ~8% then), which I would submit as one piece of evidence that the stimulus did not work. (My readers will know that there are many more, but that’s not the main point of this post!)
(And yes, I know the good old argument that “it would have been much worse, had it not been for the stimulus” etc. I would only kindly ask that anyone wanting to submit such an argument please logically refute the counter arguments that I have already laid out very clearly in The Trouble With Bureaucracy, and empirically supply specific examples that corroborate this thesis and that outweigh any evidence that may exist to the contrary.)
But in addition to that, I would say that the corruption, scandals, waste, and the ensuing political backlash that I predicted above, have only just begun to unravel: The case of Solyndra is suddenly a big thorn in the administration’s side, and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon:
Pressure on the Obama administration over the loan guarantee given to Solyndra ratcheted up after the discovery of e-mails from a White House official warning of possible political ramifications of the loan. As Carol Leonnig and Joe Stephens reported:
A White House official fretted privately that the Obama administration could suffer serious political damage if it gave additional taxpayer support to the beleaguered solar-panel company Solyndra, according to newly released e-mails.
Solyndra, the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan from the stimulus law creating the guarantee program, had its headquarters raided by the FBI last week. As AP reported:
The FBI raided Solyndra’s headquarters last week and interviewed company executives at their homes. A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under seal, said the search was related to a fraud investigation into whether Solyndra filed inaccurate documents with the government.
The Silicon Valley company was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under the stimulus law, and the Obama administration frequently touted Solyndra as a model for its clean energy program. President Barack Obama visited the company’s headquarters last year.
Even as Obama declared that “the future is here” during a May 2010 visit to Solyndra, warning signs were being sent from within the government and from outside analysts who questioned the company’s viability.
At least three reports by federal watchdogs over the past two years warned that the Energy Department had not fully developed the controls needed to manage the multibillion-dollar loan program.
… and as was predictable, Republicans are happy to pounce:
“What did the stimulus give us last time? It gave us Solyndra,” Bachmann said to cheers at a packed Tea Party fundraiser this week in liberal Marin County. “Wasn’t that great?”
Bachmann is among the growing ranks of Republicans, including the lineup of 2012 GOP presidential candidates, who are increasingly salting their stump speeches, press releases and talking points with references to the Fremont firm that once was a poster child for the Obama administration on alternative energy jobs before it shut down last month.
The Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party darling delights audiences when she dryly quotes Vice President Joe Biden’s past observation that the federal government’s $528 million loan to Solyndra “was exactly what the stimulus act was all about.”
“It’s exactly true,” she said to cheers and applause from conservative activists in Marin on Thursday. “I tell you … we have so much material, it’s going to be a joy.”
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/16/MNED1L5MRI.DTL#ixzz1YAbztAT7
I would actually be shocked if this will remain the only example of blatant stimulus waste that will come back to haunt the president.
Actions have consequences; stupid decisions, whose long term impact you are unable to assess, will come back to bite you in the ass, particularly during election year. From the Republicans’ viewpoint, Obama could not have picked a better time for pushing the stimulus bill, since it usually takes at least a few years for all the filth and corruption of giant government programs to build up and trickle through the shiny, pompous, and mindless facade of politics.
But as I have come to realize about politics a while ago, the best thing to do in my opinion is to abstain from participating in these spectacles, sit back, relax, and don’t hurt your head too much about petty, boring, and small minded sociopaths who aspire to exercise power over millions of people year after year.
Senator Obama in 2006 when the debt ceiling was at $8,965 billion or 64.2% of GDP:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
And of course as a standup and incorruptible agent of change, President Obama in 2011 (via spokesperson), with a debt ceiling at $14,294 billion or 92.1% of GDP:
Obama “thinks it was a mistake,” presidential spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. “He realizes now that raising the debt ceiling is so important to the health of this economy and the global economy that it is not a vote that, even when you are protesting an administration’s policies, you can play around with.”
Ah, the idiocy of politics in all its beauty …
I wonder if this is the kind of “CHANGE” he was talking about all along. ;)
The economist Franz Oppenheimer once wrote that there are only two means of acquiring material wealth. One is voluntary exchange and the other is theft. He aptly called the former the “economic means” and the latter the “political means”.
Oppenheimer furthermore defined the state as an “organization of the political means”:
The State is an organization of the political means. No State, therefore, can come into being until the economic means has created a definite number of objects for the satisfaction of needs, which objects may be taken away or appropriated by warlike robbery.
The process of politics, due to its complete violation of morality, contradicts everything humans are by default wired for.
It seems to be generally understood that there is nothing to be gained out of the political process for mankind in general.
One can observe this in common day to day speak:
“Oh, this is getting too political for me.”
“He’s just playing politics.”
“Don’t politicize this issue!”
“You should hear yourself talk. You sound like a politician!”
And so on …
Thus I think it is fair to say that evidence exists to support the notion that people in general very much understand the futility of the political process. They like to let it slip from time to time. Except when it really matters … on election day.
You can see this in emotional knee jerk responses that you get from most people when advocating abstention from the voting process.
It is not unreasonable to believe that such cognitive dissonance is one of the ultimate results of childhood scar tissue.