Old solutions often best to deal with new problems

One of today’s favorite talking points of liberals, progressives and Democrats is that conservatives and Republicans have either no ideas whatsoever or that they want to rehash the ideas of the Bush administration that got us into this mess in the first place.

I get the same thing even with my little old column here in the Grand Valley. Time and again I hear from readers that all I do is complain and I don’t offer any new solutions. Well to state the obvious, I have plenty of complaints about what our government does at the Federal level. My first questions is this: Why doesn’t everyone? And I don’t have any new solutions simply because where we as a nation should be looking is backward —yes, backward—to old solutions. You know, the kinds of things that actually work.

In the 1920s we had a stock market crash and a spike in unemployment. In essence, we had the makings of a depression as these were certainly two aspects of the yet to come Great Depression. “Silent Cal” Coolidge did something that actually worked, he cut taxes and cut federal government spending. So let me ask you, have you ever heard of the Great Depression of 1920? Of course not.

That doesn’t mean Coolidge wasn’t pressured to do something. As the government saying goes, “Doing nothing is not an option.” Our old friend and future president Herbert Hoover wanted massive government programs to address the situation. Good thing Cal did nothing, or at least he did something, the right thing. Hoover’s experiment in government meddling in a serious situation would have to wait a few years with disastrous results, only to be exacerbated by FDR.

Does that sound familiar? Perhaps something in common with how George “Herbert Hoover” Bush passed the “government must do something” baton to Barack “FDR” Obama. (You know, the guy who wanted the Second New Deal?)

So guess what? I adamantly don’t want more progressive government leaders with new ideas, solutions or mandates that the government has to act (read spend).

The federal government is simply incapable of creating jobs. It can create bureaucracy that happens to have some jobs in it, but it must first take from the productive to give unto itself. Here’s a number for you: $194,213. Do you know what that is? That’s the cost per job of every job created under the Obama stimulus plan. Worse yet, that is borrowed money or money soon to be confiscated from the producers in this country who actually can create jobs.

And to add more misery under the guise of the government to the rescue of the economy, the folks in charge are changing the wording they will use to sell the effectiveness of the stimulus plan. Remember when they came up with “jobs saved” to add to “jobs created”?

That was simply a way to create an illusion that government stimulus was working under the cover of something impossible to calculate.  I’d love to see the equation Obama and Biden use.

The new wording going forward will be “lives touched” to determine the effectiveness of the Recovery Act. So now they are adding to the count anyone who at some point has supported a project funded by the stimulus. I have a better idea for lives touched. How about anyone who has been laid off, found their position in life worse or had their taxes raised by our government’s incessant spending? That way they can brag that every American has been “touched” by the stimulus.

So to my solutions. Cut spending, cut taxes and keep the federal government inside the restraints of the Constitution. After all, the Constitution is a document of negative rights for the feds. And let’s be honest, the spend-other-people’s-money-with-zero-recourse politicians just plain don’t like that.

Our federal government has increased spending $4.4 TRILLION over the past 31 months. Quick and dirty math says the feds are spending on average $130 BILLION more each month than just over two short years ago. How does this “new solution” make more sense than what everyone with a sense of business and history is doing during the same time — like cutting spending and saving money?

So instead of protecting our borders, protecting our citizens and keeping within the boundaries of the Constitution, our federal government forces onto us auto bailouts, big-time deficit spending and stimulus programs, none of which fall under its authority. Worse yet, on the horizon is a possible federal bailout of underfunded pension plans (many of these government-made problems), trillion dollar deficits for the unforeseeable future and the fallout and unintended consequences of never-read legislation. While these are things the government does very well, they are things it should not be doing at all.

We are the only ones who can clean this up. Because if history teaches us anything, it is that a progressive, federal government won’t because it simply ignores the “old solutions.”
Craig Hall is owner and publisher of the Business Times. Reach him at 424-5133 or publisher@thebusinesstimes.com.