The movie My Cousin Vinny was on TV recently. It really is a hoot, a very original production with a superb cast that clicks perfectly. If you’ve never seen it and want a good laugh, go check it out of the video store.
Seeing the movie made me think of my cousin Cindy, who is a real person who owns a modest restaurant up here in Massachusetts. I last saw Cindy in May and she was expressing frustration at all the taxes and paperwork and regulations that the state is imposing on her business. Her situation is no comedy. Many business owners in liberal states are expressing the same sense of exasperation. Now Massachusetts is even considering a 29 cent per gallon(!) increase in the gasoline tax to finance the notorious Big Dig project in Boston. The citizens are desperate as jobs leave this anti-business state by the thousands.
Of course the 90% Democrat Massachusetts legislature is hard at work passing really crucial legislation like a ban on smoking in cars with minors; legal protection for cross-dressers and transvestites; and solutions for the ‘global warming’ bogeyman. A prohibition of opposite-sex marriage can’t be far behind.
My cousin Cindy works really hard. The restaurant business is a tough one, but she serves her public well. Everyone knows that they can go to her place and get good food at a reasonable price. Her feta cheese and black-olive pizza is out of this world.
Now that the economy is in serious financial difficulty, perhaps we all can learn from people like Cindy. She never has purchased cheap hamburger and tried to pass it off as steak; she’s never paid her waitresses $50 an hour out of the goodness of her heart; nor has she ever installed a giant karaoke machine in her eatery. Like most good small businesses, she offers quality food and spends every penny carefully. And the result is an enterprise that has survived handily since Uncle Charlie established the place more than 40 years ago. Meanwhile the old adage says that 95% of all new businesses fail within 5 years.
Now we have the specter of a big government handing out billions to banks and businesses and states and localities that have got themselves into deep debt. And the question is: Why? Why should we go to these extraordinary lengths to rescue people who have made bad decisions? Democrat-run Massachusetts’ Big Dig road project in Boston was supposed to cost $2 billion and ended up costing $15 billion. And now the people of the state – including my hard-working cousin – are being asked to bail out the politicians and their corrupt contractor cronies who built the thing in the first place, all at outrageous union wage rates.
Meanwhile it is being reported that every job created under Obama’s stimulus plan is going to cost $275,000 in government spending. Does that make sense? Imagine that every job pays $40,000 per year. Where does the rest of the money go? It is frightening.
Yet people like my hard-working cousin will be paying the extra taxes while other people will get the jobs. That is called ‘wealth transfer’ and ‘temporary job creation’. And it will not last because once the money is spent the job will end.
It is about time that America takes a long look at this crisis and acts responsibly. Here are some things to remember:
First, the economy boomed throughout most of the Bush tenure, has been slow for more than a year, but only has dropped severely in the last few months. So there is no need to act rashly. Obama is acting like the world is coming to an end just to get his giant pork package passed. But the economy could start to rebound naturally at the same rate as it tanked.
Second, over the last 50 years governments from local to state to federal have transferred trillions of dollars in wealth from productive people like my cousin to unproductive people like welfare freeloaders and lazy, overpaid, unionized government workers. Meanwhile the federal government has forced banks to lend huge amounts of money to people who could not pay it back under the Community Reinvestment Act, which sparked this whole debacle to begin with. These practices must end now.
Third, Obama’s massive stimulus became unpopular because the public understands that it is largely wasteful. According to the Ramussen poll, only 37% supported the bill by February 3. Compare that to Obama’s 80% rating in January.
Meanwhile businesses, banks and colleges are crying poor and cities and towns are looking for money for tennis courts, skateboard parks and neon signs. This is not the kind of emergency infrastructure spending that we should be doing.
Has anyone considered the concept of time, that perhaps instead of panicking and throwing money at the problem that we should take time and allow the economy to recover on its own terms? Obviously there are people who are hurting who can get some immediate help, but throwing huge amounts of money at the problem only will delay recovery.
Have you ever seen a person who is shattered in an accident and looks like he will never recover? And only after time has passed is he walking again, slowly but surely. The American economy will recover as well. But it must recover largely on its own schedule. If we pump in too much morphine (money) to kill the pain, the patient will not improve. It will just need more morphine down the road.
In 1932, FDR was elected on a platform to help the ailing economy. But 5 years later, after tons of government spending, the economy was worse. And this is what will happen if we do not rein in wasteful spending, offer tax incentives to businesses to expand, reduce taxes and regulations on productive people like my cousin, shut off the spigot to unionized government employees, and wait for the problems in our economy to work themselves out, including a shift in consumer psychology which is not going to flip overnight.
Here are three facts about the current situation: The banks have money but are not lending it. Many people sold their stocks and have that cash tucked away. And houses always will have value. So let’s give some prudent short-term aid, offer some very modest stimulus and some good tax incentives, and then give this problem time to work itself out.
My cousin Cindy’s restaurant business was not built in a year. And more than 40 years later, we can enjoy her delicious food because she and her father did things right over a long period of time, not quickly just to make a buck. This is a lesson that America should take to heart at this very critical time.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.