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Thus, on the fear side, we have businesses disinclined to hire due to the uncertainty created by massive government distortion of the marketplace. On the greed side, we have substantial numbers of Americans disinclined to work, due to massive government distortion of the social contract, in which one used to expected to have a degree of personal responsibility.
How bad is this distortion? The same fear that is supposed to temper greed has been used to facilitate it. Americans, who have been inundated with a “never let a crisis go to waste” mentality from the beginning of the economic meltdown until now, will never know for certain whether the $700 billion in taxpayer money used to bailout the banking system was absolutely necessary to prevent systemic failure. All we know for certain is that those who had the most to lose as a result of their greed instilled a coordinated and unrelenting sense of fear into the entire nation. Remarkably, most of those people remain in the same or similar power positions that they enjoyed before the crisis. In retrospect, mass resignations of such people should have been demanded as an integral part of the bailout. At the very least, a modicum of fear would have been reintroduced where it is needed the most.
Instead that fear was leveraged. A largely center-right nation handed the reins of power to the most progressive elements of our society in the form of the Obama administration and a throughly radicalized Democrat party. For the better part of five years, greed and fear have been filtered through the progressive lens.
Unfortunately, progressives completely misunderstand human nature. They truly believe that mankind will aspire to its higher instincts, simply because it is the right thing to do. “Enlightened” corporations will ignore their bottom lines and simply hire for the sake of hiring. “Enlightened” individuals will pursue work immediately, casting aside their government-subsidized lifestyle as quickly as possible. Everyone will work for the “greater good” if given the opportunity to do so. In short, progressives believe greed and fear can be mandated — by those who profess to know more about “what people want” than the people themselves.
This is the essence of hubris, and it is underlined by every “unexpected” development that comes down the pike. It is aided and abetted by the Egotist-in-Chief, who can look at almost three years of economic reality and, as evidenced by his speech on Friday, conclude that more of the same is the answer. Only a man thoroughly beholden to rigid ideology could still be touting “investing in rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our railways and our infrastructure,” as in the very same “shovel-ready jobs” he himself admitted last October didn’t exist.
Lost in last week’s hand-wringing about the number of jobs created was a far more salient fact. Even as the dismal total 18,000 jobs was announced, it was also announced that the job totals for April and May had to be revised downward by 44,000. Thus, it is quite possible that next moth, June’s job totals will also be revised downward — perhaps revealing a net loss of jobs, when a more accurate picture emerges.
Is there a way out of the mess we’ve created? Starting at the top, Thomas M. Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, offers the obvious solution. He wants to “reduce the scope and size of banks, combined with legislatively mandated debt-to-equity requirements,” in order to “restore the integrity of the financial system[.]” He further notes that “[financial institutions] reached their present size through the [government] subsidies they received because they were too big to fail. Therefore, diminishing their size and scope, thereby reducing or removing this subsidy and the competitive advantage it provides, would restore competitive balance to our economic system.”
That’s a banker’s way of saying we need to restore the proper balance between greed and fear. It is the same relationship which must be repaired within the government as well, as $14.4 trillion of national debt indicates. This may be a far more difficult task, since spending trillions of dollars we don’t have has been portrayed as “compassion.” In reality it is the greed of today’s generation of Americans stealing from subsequent generations absent the fear of consequences — based on the idea that America itself is “too big to fail.”
It’s not. And either the proper relationship between greed and fear will be re-established by cooler heads addressing the genuine distortions of our entitlement-run-amok culture, or it will be re-established by entities with little or no sympathy for the richest nation in the world. Either way, it will be re-established. Neither the laws of economics — nor human nature — can be suspended indefinitely.
Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.
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