Friday, April 12, 2024

Government to blame for 'financial shambles'

by Larry L. Morrison
| December 10, 2010 8:00 PM

Re: the Jim Wallace "My Turn" column on Dec. 4, 2010: What a great writer ... of comedy routines. He starts with the hook of apparent reasonableness and non-partisanship. He then proceeds through the narrative to the long, convoluted "punch line" which is just a list of progressive talking points. There are some small kernels of truth in his "bad guys" list, and bits of truth are another characteristic of good comedy. Really, he should try his hand at contributions to late night show monologues.

But, let's get to the point. The real problem underlying our "financial shambles" (Wallace's term) is huge, bloated, intrusive, and often unconstitutional, (my opinion) government. This applies to government at all levels. But the biggest culprit by far is the federal government! Progressivism (which some scholars have described as evolutionary communism) was first advanced aggressively by the Woodrow Wilson administration. It was ratcheted up strongly by Franklin Roosevelt; most Democrat administrations since then have further advanced this abomination. Most Republican administrations, to their discredit, did not seriously resist. Some of them participated (the Reagan administration being something of an exception).

Arguably, the most serious attack on the constitution was the perversion of Article I; Section 8 (the Commerce Clause) by the Roosevelt influenced Supreme Court in 1937 and 1942 rulings. These decisions in NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel and Wickard v. Filburn opened the door to government intrusion into virtually every aspect of our lives. Boy, have they ever intruded! Estimates from 8 to 10 years ago indicate that about 40 percent of our income was taken by government and an additional 10 percent was spent dealing with government rules and mandates. Imagine what it is today! (Note: the above case information and percent estimates were taken from referenced citations in Mark R. Levin's great book "Men in Black," Regenery Publishing, 2005).

Look, the issue here is not between the Democrat and Republican parties as Wallace suggests. It is between those who believe in our constitution and those who view it as out of date and, more importantly, as an impediment to their socialist goals. (Obama is on record as believing this).

As a geotechnical professional for my entire working life I have found it useful to view every landslide, collapse or other failure as having a suite of "stage setting" causes and then some "triggering cause." Applying that perspective to our current "quagmire" (Wallace's term again) it seems clear that the stage was set by decades of over-promising and over-spending in search of electoral advantage. Add to that grossly irresponsible deficit spending, catering to the ever escalating demands of unions, the NEA, trial lawyers, and various minority pressure groups. Of course we can't forget the dead weight of the huge, arrogant, intrusive, and expensive federal bureaucracy. We pay for more boards and commissions than anyone can count. Don't forget the useless agencies. Has the Department of Education improved education performance? Demonstrably it has not. Former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, chairman of a commission to evaluate the state of U.S. education said (roughly, not a quote) that if this situation had been imposed by a foreign power it would justly be considered an act of war. Has the Department of Energy produced any energy? No!

In my view there is little questioning that the "triggering cause" of our problem was the housing and mortgage meltdown. It's very hard to find any "good guys" in this sorry episode, but it was basically caused by the federal government. The Community Reinvestment Act, with the nominal "good intention" of increasing home ownership by groups normally unable to afford it, was started by the Carter administration. It was reborn and expanded by the Clinton administration. Lending institutions came under Justice Department and congressional pressure, especially during the Clinton era, to offer mortgages regardless of the recipient's ability to repay them. The "carrot" part of this lunacy was that the government-supported entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, would guarantee these doomed-to-fail loans.

Note that "government supported" means taxpayer supported. The government has no money it does not first extort from productive citizens, borrows (mostly from China these days) or just prints.

Lending institutions reacted to this pressure in a short-term rational, though not exactly moral, way by bundling these "junk" mortgages into saleable securities and spreading them around. What could go wrong? There was a U.S. government guarantee of support!

The Bush administration made a half-hearted effort to call attention to the developing problem. But they wilted in the face of vicious and false attacks by congressional Democrats. The relentless demagoguery was led by Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi in the House (Maxine Waters chimed in too). In the Senate Chris Dodd, chairman of the banking committee, led the charge.

There is little chance of a real recovery with the huge, ugly, (and unconstitutional) hammer of "Obama care" hanging over us. At this writing the possibility of 2011 tax increases is still there. That doesn't help either. Hopefully the insanity of raising taxes in the midst of a recession will be avoided.

Frankly, it gets a bit discouraging month after month to read and hear the same old anti-freedom, class-warfare, and pro-socialist screeds from people who otherwise appear to be intelligent and literate. I urge people to stop guzzling (or is it snorting?) the progressive Kool-Aid and pursue some facts. There is plenty of information available in thoroughly researched books with documented sources, in newsletters, and on the Internet. Make an effort. You owe it to the country. You owe it to yourselves. You owe it to your children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Larry L. Morrison is a resident of Harrison.