Slow Drip of Financial Ruin

Slow Drip of Financial Ruin

By Dennis Byrne - February 18, 2009

It's the death of reason.

Well, maybe not its death, but passage of the $787 billion stimulus package has sent reason to the intensive-care unit, possibly to draw its last breath. How ironic that at the very moment we were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who with Newton, Galileo and other rational minds, freed Western thinking from the manacles of faith, miracles and doctrine, Congress and President Barack Obama launched history's most expensive government giveaway, based entirely on panic, divination and ignorance.

The emotions of fear and loathing are what spawned this monstrosity; reason and logic had nothing to do with it. It's no better than sorcery. Democrats sold this package purely on gut feeling, sentiment and intuition.

I once had a college sociology professor--Bud Bloomberg, a man as liberal as you could find--who fulminated against slapdash solutions to society's problems. First, define the problem, he lectured, and then craft the most efficient, direct and cost-effective solution, a solution that often turned out to be the simplest. The repeated failure to follow that framework in favor of a vague, hope-inspired panacea was why so many complex societal problems either weren't solved or made worse by heartfelt concoctions.

Hence, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, an unpalatable stew of every imaginable ingredient hatched by every imaginable chef, has come upon us, not targeted to any particular taste or need, but guaranteed to give every American the heaves and heartburn for generations to come. No more reason went into this gelatinous slop than the ridiculous and dishonest assertion that it was either "this or nothing." It's the ultimate whine of the naive do-something crowd that surfaces with every trouble, natural or man-made.

Senator after Democratic senator stood to disgorge this dishonest rhetoric during floor debate, repeatedly proclaiming the lie that Republican opponents had nothing of their own to offer. But you didn't have to search far to find examples of GOP solutions, such as the one on House Minority Leader John Boehner's Web site. You don't have to agree with his more moderate and targeted package of immediate tax relief for working families, more help for the small business sector (the nation's biggest job producer), no tax increases to pay for spending, jobless assistance and home price stabilization.

However, simple honesty should compel the Reids and Pelosis to refrain from saying the opposition has no plan. Democrats, of course, were able to get away with this slander because few in the media challenged it or bothered to report it. The media also have failed to challenge the economic methodologies that are the basis for claims that the stimulus will produce millions of jobs.

Reason is the facility of the mind used to intelligently form judgments, make decisions and solve problems. Emotions are feelings, desires, fears, hates and passionate drives--all of which are the tools that Obama deployed to sell the stimulus package to a gullible public. Endeavor to go through all 1,100 pages of this stuffed piggy and you'll find little rational connection between the nation's problems and its solutions--other than if we throw enough money out there, some of it will stick to the wall.

The lightning-like passage of this colossal spending package (amounting to more than the Iraq war) took just three weeks. Congress is supposed to be a deliberative body, making decisions judiciously, openly and unhurriedly. This was steamrolled.

Worse than the insult to the democratic process, however, is the substance of this lunacy. Our national debt will nudge close to 100 percent of gross domestic product, something that hasn't happened since World War II when the threat to our country was external, mortal and real, and not of our own making. Then, we had to sell war bonds to our own citizens, the only way we could finance the war. Now, with the possible drying up of foreign purchases of American debt, perhaps we'll have to revert to celebrity-studded beg-a-thons of the 1940s to buy our own debt. School kids could again pinch pennies and nickels for the cause. They'll love us for it.

Dennis Byrne is a Chicago-area writer. He blogs at

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