Friday, July 3, 2009

Moochers, Looters, and Producers

"So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor - your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?" -Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I am more an unapologetic capitalist today than I was a week ago... and a week ago, I would have told you I was as staunch a capitalist as they come. What is the difference in me today? I suppose I shall just be louder. Goodness knows, somebody needs to be out there in favor of capitalism... the capitalist crowd appears to be dwindling at a rapid rate. Honestly, I blame this sad fact on a pathetically poor education system. 

What is capitalism but the best among imperfect systems? I will admit that capitalism is not without its faults... free markets are not perfect, nor will they ever be. Human nature dictates that life on earth can never be utopian. This is one essential fact of which everyone needs to be constantly aware. This fact needs to inform us first - before we begin thinking of systems and what needs to be done about them. This is my bias and will inform everything I write from here on.

There are states "in crisis" financially - if you were not already aware of this, you've probably been living under a rock somewhere. But as of Thursday, even the rock dwellers will have an inkling that all is not well in the state of California. There, the state's controller started printing "i.o.u.'s" instead of checks to pay those they owe. To quote a line from my favorite movie, "Humiliations galore!" But I have to hand it to Arnold... the pressure has been on for quite some time and he just won't cave. He is calling for "changes in policy as part of any budget deal." What changes is he looking for?

1. He refuses to sign on to anything that is a temporary fix. 
2. He refuses to sign on to tax increases for the people of California.
3. He insists on the fingerprinting of recipients for certain state services.
4. He insists on checks on the job status of welfare recipients.
5. He insists on changes to the state pension program.

My personal opinion is that the state should probably stop spending money to save the seals right now, too... but maybe that's just me. 

Charges leveled against the governor?

1. "The governor is playing brinksmanship in the middle of the most serious economic crisis since the '30s with possible consequences for the nation's recovery as a whole." I had to look up "brinksmanship." It means, "pursuing dangerous policy to the brink of calamity before stopping." Call me crazy, but I don't see anything in 1-5 above that would qualify as "dangerous policy" except insofar as he doesn't go far enough.

2. "We did everything in our power to avert the i.o.u.'s. This was a strategic move by the governor and the Senate Republicans." This juicy bite was from Darrell Steinberg of the State Senate. He also accused the governor of "stale rhetoric." 

Huh. It's interesting, isn't it? The state of California is in a glorious mess -- and states are required to run on a balanced budget. I really wish the federal government had the same requirement! Think of what might change if that were the case... but I digress.

The national mood is somber, at best. The June report of jobs lost was more dismal than that of May. Of course, the fact that the press was out rejoicing in the streets at May's numbers simply because the number of jobs lost was lower than the previous month was a bit pathetic, and one had to expect that the party was going to be over soon. 

In June, almost half a million jobs were lost again. It's not looking good for the economic recovery cheerleaders right now... not to mention the fact that it's not looking good for quite a few Americans. But that's okay, because the New York Times has advice for President Obama in their editorial section... wanna hear it? "President Obama and his advisers must start preparing now for what is sure to be a tough legislative fight over more stimulus." No, I'm not kidding. 

They also go on to say that the unemployed will need more help. Want to know why? "The jobless rate ticked up to 9.5 percent in June... and it appears headed inexorably higher. For adult men, the rate is already 10 percent. The numbers are even worse for teenagers (24 percent), African-Americans (14.7 percent) and Hispanics (12.2 percent). The most alarming subset, however, is made up of the long-term unemployed. Of the 14.7 million jobless workers, 4.4 million - nearly 30 percent - have been out of work for 27 weeks or more." Naturally, the NYT is calling for another extension of unemployment benefits. But puhleeze tell me that we're not extending unemployment benefits to teenagers?? Please?!? How in the heck and why are we tracking the employment statistics of teenagers?

Not to appear too one-sided, the NYT advised Obama to address a deeper anxiety... and this is where I have to just laugh at these people because they make no sense whatsoever. After telling him to start pushing yet another stimulus, they tell him to address the deeper anxiety of "how will the economy be rebuilt so that growth is not dependent on excessive borrowing, by the government or by households?" They want him to have "a vision - and an agenda - for creating good jobs with good pay." 

And for that, I have to circle back to the beginning of this particular piece of writing -- the answer is CAPITALISM. 

No comments: