What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: thehalfshow.com
Throughout recent months, America has been subjected to a variety of Congressionally-induced economic stimuli. These events take the form of legislation whisked through the chambers of Congress with lightning speed, and newly-created programs and committees that refuse to implement the transparency they promised and shirk any proferred oversight.
And now, the Democrats are in control. While their elephantic counterparts are hardly any better (after all, they were the ones who vociferously supported the original mother of all bailouts and its successors), Pelosi and her underlings have been tirelessly drumming up support for a second stimulus package, among other interventions.
Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.
Q. Where will the government get this money?
A. From taxpayers.
Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?
A. Only a smidgen.
Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.
Q. But isn’t that stimulating the economy of China?
A. Shut up.
Barry’s clarification of the stimulus is faulted with only one error; the presumption of a self-inflicted wound is not entirely correct. In reality, we are saddling future generations with the burden of our debt. This changes only under circumstances where the inflationary effects are accelerated and felt by the taxpayers within a shorter time frame (as an example, getting the stimulus and then having food prices rise 20% within a year would be a direct and relatively immediate burden).
Frederic Bastiat was slightly more accurate in his assessment of this type of government intervention:
Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.
But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man — in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain. (Frederic Bastiat, The Law)
Bastiat here correctly notes that it is man’s nature to seek his own increase through another individual’s decrease. More insidious, though, is the action of imposing your burdens on future generations who have no say in the matter nor opportunity for remonstrance.
But this is what the modern so-called “stimulus” is all about. Absent from what little discussions there are in Congress is the explanation of where the money will come from; this should be a alarming indication of this exact pernicious profiteering Bastiat refers to.
It seems, though, that America has come to accept and expect stimuli in all its forms. Whether through action-packed video games, titillating movies, energy drinks, or money in the mail, individuals feed off of one stimulus after another. These artificial highs will always be followed by deeper and more drastic lows, thus creating a net negative in the aggregate. You can only stimulate for so long before the body shuts down for self-preservation.