These United States long ago cried Uncle but the President went right-on twisting our elbow behind our back yesterday, insisting that the not-even-great boondoggle plotted in our nation's capitol could be described with terms like "economic" and "stimulus." As is usually the case, this is a clear sign that there is nothing economic about the plan and little that is stimulating, unless triggering our gag reflex counted.
As our eyes threatened to glaze over we turned our eyes away from the idiot box and toward the mounting mountain of periodicals that demand our attention each week. For no particular reason we can determine, we received three copies of New York magazine last night. This had the surprising effect of convincing us to turn our attention to the magazine. Note to advertisers on dead trees: you may want to insist that magazines mail multiple copies to subscribers. At least it ensures the mass circulation magazine will be picked up and perhaps an eyeball or two will settle on the pricey ads you somehow still believe should be placed there instead of on, ahem, little websites.
Leafing through the magazine we found ourselves experience a bit of intellectual surprise. We were reading a column by a man named James J. Cramer—as he calls himself in print—and we were agreeing with it! We read on, mouths agape. Had this final act of the Bush administration accomplished reconciliation between Cramer and DealBreaker?
More on the potential reconciliation after the jump.
We long labored under the delusion that the political parties could best be described as the stupid party and the evil party. But in the past dozen years or so, the stupid party has become more evil and the evil party stupider, so that now we have two stupid and evil parties and elections ask us to choose between not just the lesser of two evils but the stupider of two evils. It's a choice we feel a civic duty to decline.
But back to Mr. James J. Here's how he describes the so-called stimulus package:
Everybody likes "free" money. So it's no wonder that President Bush's plan to give up to $1,200 per family to taxpayers to get the economy moving again will sail through Congress. The logic seems compelling: We face a looming recession because the consumer isn't spending. Give 'em some money to spend! The president's team is hailing the plan as a cheap $150 billion shot in the arm that will check the downturn and get the economy rolling again.
Do you mind if I'm blunt and say that this is the stupidest, most wasteful, and least effective idea possible to reverse the decline in the U.S. economy, a decline that is pulling the rest of the world down with it?
No James, we don't mind you saying that at all. We're grateful you said it so bluntly because we're always grateful for such wonderful adventures into reality when it comes to politics and economics. But we wish you had stopped saying anything there, rather than gone on to call for interest rates to be cut in half, to 1.75%.
On reading further into the article, it is easy to discover that Cramer's complaint is simply that the 'free money' on offer from Washington is not free enough—it involves more borrowing by Washington—and does not include enough money. We've experienced a great calamity caused by credit and Cramer's conclusion is that we need more of it, good and hard.
The rest of the article pursues a path of pure madness. "First, let's take a hard look at the real cause of the problem: We have too many defaulting mortgages and home-equity loans from people who bought homes-some on speculation, some because they actually wanted to live in them-and could not afford the purchase price," Cramer writes. It seems obvious that the conclusion to such a discover would be to get the government out of the business of the great homeownership experiment. The social engineering program entitled the "ownership society" has failed and ought to be abandoned.
But Cramer calls for an economic policy that would dig us even deeper into the mortgage mentality. We've had a real estate bubble that has almost broken the world, and Cramer wants to put us right back into the bubble bath.
We set aside the magazine, content with the view that the great folly of Washington had not yet re-ordered the way of the world such that we would find ourselves fighting beside James J. The lambs and not yet laying down with lions, nor the bears with the bulls, nor the sound money sentinels with the inflationists, nor DealBreaker with the breakers of interest rates.
The Phony Stimulus [New York]