From today’s Daily Reckoning
The European press looks upon the president as a free spirit, a straight-shooting cowboy who cannot be restrained by more moderate advisors. They think he turns his back on the wise counsel in order to follow his own instincts.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Bush is the man for the job precisely because he seems to lack any critical judgment of his own; instead he is a stooge for every self-serving opportunist and brazen theorist who comes through his door. No spending proposition is too absurd. No military adventure is too costly. No boondoggle to big industry is too corrupt.
More credit? No problem. More spending? You got it. Pass a law? Where do I sign?
The going has been very good in America for a very long time. Lately, it has been just too wonderful to last. But how does something like this come to an end? Do people get together and decide to lower their expectations? Do the voters elect a humble accountant who tells them they will have make do with less? Do the Republicans come to their senses, cut spending, raise taxes, and ask Alan Greenspan to raise rates? Americans desperately needs to spend less and save more. But who’s going to tell them?
A man on his own may wake up and decide to check himself into a detox center, go on a diet, or straighten out his own finances. But groups of people never do. It is as if they all had the same credit card. Everyone in the group may know they must cut back on spending; but who’s going to do it? The larger the group, the less an individual gains, personally, from doing the right thing. The best he can do for himself is to run up as many charges as possible – and make sure he’s got another credit card!
When a group of people put themselves on the road to ruin… there’s no stopping them; thoughts make no difference.
Consider WWI, for example. By 1916, it was obvious to nearly everyone that the war was a losing proposition. Ten million people had already died. Nothing had been gained. Nothing stood to be gained. Many people realized the situation was hopeless, but what could they do? Imagine them trying to “get the word out,” or write letters to the newspapers. It was hopeless. The war had logic of its own; it didn’t matter what anyone thought about it. And so it continued for another two years…at a cost of another 10 million lives.
After the war, Russia turned to communism. It was clear to most Russians, and even to Lenin himself, that the system did not produce the paradise on earth that had been promised. But imagine the poor Russian, writing to the newspaper in 1925:
“Well, we gave it a good try. But this thing really doesn’t seem to be working. Let’s go back to where we were in 1917 and start over.”
Again, the system had logic of its own. Stalin came along just when he was needed, to keep the nation on its path to ruin. It stayed on it for another 64 years.
And now it’s America’s turn. Our consumer capitalism will not be destroyed by communism, or by terrorism…but by it’s own excesses. Thus, we need leaders who not only permit excess, but also encourage it. Bush and Greenspan are the men we need now. We can count on them to produce as much ruin as possible.