Define "Change"

I have come to the conclusion that I should not listen to national news – it just gets me agitated.

I was driving home listening to NPR and was treated to actual soundbites from the rallying speech that President Obama gave to the Democratic caucus meeting. I had head about that, but hearing these gems really showed that many people must mistake the fact that Obama is articulate by assuming that everything he says must therefore be intelligent and accurate.

The audio clips I heard had the president emphasizing that the people elected him (and the rest of Congress)  to change the direction of the country and were not seeking "more of the same." What really got to me was this well phrased analogy:

"I don’t care whether you are driving an SUV or a hybrid, if you are headed toward a cliff you have to change direction."

He’s absolutely right. My reaction was that instead of changing direction when faced with an economic cliff, the president and Congress are accelerating and hoping to grow wings by the time they reach the edge. Let’s examine the "change" that he is promoting.

The president calls inaction irresponsible – it seems to me that inaction is not something that the Bush administration can ever be accused of. In other words inaction would probably be the clearest for of change. Last year the administration got a $150 Billion dollar stimulus bill and later received another $700 Billion to unfreeze the credit markets. That’s $850 Billion in spending last year of money that we don’t have and the result is that we are still in a recession with no end in sight. The change that Obama is promoting is something on the order of $800 Billion in new spending of money that we don’t have. I’m beginning to think the politicians really don’t know the difference between legal tender and monopoly money (too bad the IRS knows the difference all too well).

President Bush and his Republican Congress raised deficit spending to an art form. When Bush got a Democratic Congress there was no change in habits. Now President Obama and his Democratic Congress are trying to build an art acadamy around Bush’s art form – that’s not the change I was looking for.

I understand that the argument Obama is trying to make is that the country is sick and honestly needs surgury. That is an argument that I can accept. The problem is that we have already tried surgury by hatchet – it doesn’t work very well. Our Republican senators are trying to insist on using a scalpel for the surgery. Their profligate economic past opens them up to accusations of hypocrisy – and many of them might very well be acting in full hypocrisy. Regarless of how hypocritical they are being the fact is that surgury with a scalpel is safer and more likely to not kill the patient. This leads to another inconvenient truth. Assuming that the patient survives surgury (whether by hatchet or by scalpel) to get a liver transplant we need to recognize that the disease was not a bad liver, it was alcoholism. Just because you have had a transplant does not mean that it’s safe to go back to the bar.