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Easy money is dangerous

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Perhaps you also received an email recently that went like this: “George Bush has been in office for 7 1/2 years. The first six the economy was fine.” Then there were stats about how things were good, consumer confidence was high, gas prices and unemployment were reasonable, etc.

Then it said, “But American’s wanted ‘CHANGE’!  So, in 2006 they voted in a Democratic Congress & yep–we got ‘CHANGE’ all right.” This was followed by a number of facts about how things are bad. (see below for full text).

I usually don’t respond to these types of emails, but I don’t like what this says about our political system and the national debate. My first reaction is to go into an argument about causation and correlation, but I realize as I write this, my main plea is for an end to the propaganda. Aren’t we civilized enough to be measured and fair, use sound arguments, and stop acting like the other team is a bunch of evil people out to ruin the country on purpose? (And I’m talking to both parties).

Does anyone really believe that either party dictates the price of oil or the unemployment rate? If they did, wouldn’t they be eager to fix it all and prove how much more effective they are then their political adversaries?

Neither party is singularly responsible for a fall in consumer confidence. That poll is a measure of how people feel, and last July we hadn’t heard much about a mortgage crisis. Like an impending hurricane, no one is really worried until they see the giant storm on the radar. And frankly, I’m not sure you can point at either party for the failure of oversight in the mortgage industry. The markets failed us because everyone started grabbing mortgages they couldn’t afford simply because someone would give it to them. Easy money is dangerous.

Neither can one party be the sole cause of rising gas prices and unemployment. Prices are up because of supply and demand, (check out China’s massive growth in demand for oil in recent years), and because of inflation. Much of our rather significant inflation is due to a weakening dollar, caused by our Federal Reserve policy of printing money. Whatever you believe about our military efforts, we’ve been printing quite a bit of cash lately to pay for war efforts, rather than raising taxes, or cutting spending. Again, easy money is dangerous. This country has inflation to thank for much of the economic pain of late, including unemployment as companies must downsize to continue to afford the rising costs of everything else. Responsibility for inflation lies mainly with our national monetary policy, and neither party is solely to blame for bad monetary policy; the Federal Reserve is non-partisan.

But every single American citizen is to blame, for not being interested until our banks get close to failure and the economy is hanging off the edge of the cliff. It’s not sexy, or incendiary, or even fun, but read a bit on the gold standard, printing money, our national deficit, and the $430 Billion (with a “B”) we paid in interest alone on the national debt in 2007. (Compare that to NASA at $15 Billion, Education at $61 Billion, and Department of Transportation at $56 Billion). Then this country can have a serious debate about what ails our economy, not just the symptoms.

All of that aside, whatever you believe about politics and policies, I think we would be a lot farther down the path to figuring out these problems if we stopped pointing fingers. Everyone wants to blame everyone else, as if any one person or party runs the show. This is a democracy. WE run the show. Economics and war and social policies are hard things to figure out, with thousands of variables. We elect people to go to Washington and focus full-time on figuring out the answers, because we don’t have time to do so. These are regular people we elect, and too often they get picked based on popularity – based on their religion or hometown or their gender or their speaking skills, not their graduate school degrees in national defense or economics. So don’t complain when they don’t get it all right. This is complex stuff. And I promise they’re trying hard not to screw up in public. Most of them actually care deeply about this country, and are trying to do what’s best.

Here is my plea: couldn’t we please just get on the same team and try to figure things out? The 2008 candidates are currently close in the polls, which means that large numbers of voters won’t get their guy. If the losing team wants to sit around and kick the dirt, we’ll be hard-pressed to steer this massive ship of a country away from the iceburg. We all have to paddle. We all have to help our leaders figure these problems out. We all are responsible for the policies that bite us in the backside, and if we don’t want to pay attention, then we can’t complain about the effects.

Let’s stop voting for people because we like them, or because they go to church where we do, or because they’re female or black or a veteran. Vote for people you think are intelligent, and willing to get the smartest people in the room to figure out the problems, regardless of their party. Spend as much time reading balanced analysis of the problem as you do commenting on the cost of gas. And then tell someone else, teach your kids, and get everyone you know registered to vote. Because however you vote, I believe informed and alert citizens acting together to help Congress decide on complex policies, will almost always keep us out of most dangerous waters. And on the occasions it doesn’t, and we find ourselves in a place like we are now, we can weather the storm shoulder-to-shoulder with our compatriots, rather than tear at each other for the scraps.

These are lessons we teach our children, about squashing rumors, and looking for the good in others, and teamwork. About not judging a book by it’s cover, and forgiveness. Let’s try and make our political system reflect what is good, and true, and right about this country.

The original email:
On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 3:44 AM, <> wrote:

…..facts are facts!!
This has to make you think a little bit, if not then keep your blinders on!
George Bush has been in office for 7 1/2 years.
The first six the economy was fine.
A little over one year ago:
1) Consumer confidence stood at a 2 1/2 year high;
2) Regular gasoline sold for $2.19 a gallon;
3) the unemployment rate was 4.5%.
4) the DOW JONES hit a record high–14,000 +
5) American’s were buying new cars, taking cruises, vacations o’seas, living large!…
But American’s wanted ‘CHANGE’!  So, in 2006 they voted in a Democratic Congress & yep–we got ‘CHANGE’ all right.  In the PAST YEAR:
1) Consumer confidence has plummeted ;
2) Gasoline is now near $4 a gallon & climbing!;
3) Unemployment is up to 5% (a 10% increase);
4) Americans have seen their home equity drop by $12 TRILLION DOLLARS & prices still
dropping;
5) 1% of American homes are in foreclosure.
6) as I write, THE DOW is probing another low~~11,100– $2.5 TRILLION DOLLARS HAS
EVAPORATED FROM THEIR STOCKS, BONDS & MUTUAL FUNDS INVESTMENT
PORTFOLIOS!
YEP , IN 2006 AMERICA VOTED FOR CHANGE!…AND WE SURE GOT IT!!!….NOW OBAMA, the DEM’S CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT–AND THE POLLS SAY HE’S GONNA BE ‘THE MAN’–CLAIMS HE’S GONNA REALLY GIVE US CHANGE!!….JUST HOW MUCH MORE ‘CHANGE’ DO YA THINK YOU CAN STAND???…..
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2 responses »

  1. As a general guide, I tend to disregard any forward that uses more than one exclamation point (in the entire message, not just one per sentence) or capitalizes every letter. Enthusiasm on your subject is one thing, but using the right form helps to support the message.

  2. McCain-Palin 08
    ;)

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