Presidential Honeymoon or Nightmare on Elm Street

The pundits are rife with comments these days about rallying around the new President-Elect and pulling for him to be successful.  A nice sentiment in the abstract but application might be harder to achieve.   Usually there is disagreement on one or two major issues with any new President but we basically felt they were steering the ship of state generally in a direction that was acceptable.   Many times we disagree with the methods and means of accomplishing a particular goal but the goal is one supported by a goodly majority of the people.  Improving the economy is a worthwhile goal that no one would disagree with.   But would the improved economy be one that we will recognize and afford the same opportunities and flexibility for innovation that we have traditionally fostered.  That is one of the rubs with the new administration.   Further, if the improvement comes at the cost of even bigger and more intrusive Government there will be many who will oppose that because the “improvement” will lower the bar for all of us as Nanny Government takes charge of our lives.   A fear of a drab sameness for all of us permeates many today.   The Government will be in charge of defining and controlling what you can achieve with your life and work.

If the improvement is only for some as a result of redistribution of the wealth at the expense of those who had some wealth then the stage is set for serious problems in our society and the economy itself.  Under the free market system that we have enjoyed for lo these 200 years there is always a redistribution of wealth in progress.  Those on the lower end have moved up; sometimes there ascent is truly remarkable.   Warren Buffet ring a bell.   More often it is not spectacular but steady and lifts the standard of living for the overwhelming majority of us.   Study the hard statistics and numbers for the last 100 years of our and you will see a consistent improvement of the lives of the ordinary Americans.  That history has been astounding.  Compare incomes, housing, education and net worth of families over that time frame and you will see what I mean.  Don’t forget too that even the poor receive food stamps, subsidized housing, a free education through high school and even at the college level you can receive a degree at minimal cost in the state systems or receive grants and loans.   We have more cars air conditioning and consumer goods than ever before.  In the poorest neighberhoods you will see everyone walking around with cell phones and inside most of those homes you will see a plasma screen tv.    For sure we have had our ups and downs on occasion but the steady rise of standards of living can not be denied by any intelligent person.  Likewise many of the “rich” have taken a fall.  They make mistakes and lose the family fortune.   It happens all the time.  Our socio-economic brackets have never been static and they aren’t now.   The mobility of opportunity up or down and increase or decrease of wealth has inspired all of us and our ancestors.   There has always been the hope of moving up.  If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it.  You more likely will  mess up a good thing.  We have had a good thing–a damn good thing.

Change is not always a good thing.  The Russian Revolution was certainly a change but was that a good thing?  It impeded that progress of the Russian people for 70 years and ended up costing millions of lives along the way.   Was radically reducing our military under Carter a good thing?   It merely emboldened our Cold War enemies and made the world a more dangerous place.    We long ago recognized that tariff protections never work in the long run.   Smoot-Hawley was a failure and  similar  protections decades later didn’t ultimately  help the Detroit Big Three.   Histroy is replete with changes that were disasters.  

The list of disagreements with the incoming administration is very long and of great concern is that it is more than differences in goals to achieve commonly desired  results.  It is the results themselves that are at issue.   Big Government versus restricted and less intrusive Government can’t be reconciled.   Immigration can’t be smoothed over.   There are many who feel illegal is just that and that there should never be an amnesty.   Higher taxes versus lower taxes aren’t compatible.   The overriding dispute is on the size and scope of Government and the control of Government over individuals, companies and groups.    I don’t think there will be any joining of hands and singing Kumbaya around the campfire anytime soon.   The vision of the new administration is not the vision for millions for this great nation.   They feel under siege by the Barbarians at the gates.   So some of us will wish our nation well and hope it still has life left in the American dream but will oppose those trying to redefine and corrupt that dream.   Some want nothing to do with a change for what they believe to be for the worse.

To  scuttle a ship means to intentionally  sink her.   This is down by opening the sea cocks in the below deck areas.   There was a mass scuttling of ships of great note after WWI in 1919.  The German navy was required under the truce terms to bring their fleet to Scapa flow in Scotland and be interned or surrendered to the British on behalf of all the Allies.   When the Germans realized that they would never be able to control their own ships again the entire fleet scuttled on command right off the coast of Scotland.  The British were publicly outraged but privately admired the professional demeanor of the German sailors.   They weren’t really surprised by what happened it is what they would have done themselves as professional sailors.

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Filed under Economics, history, Politics

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