I try not to get too political on my blog, because I started it as a fun stress reliever. However, I couldn't resist putting this post up. I keep seeing all the panicky news articles on the economy. It's been quite obvious for years that we are due for a very bad depression. The roots of the problem go back decades. For example, when the US and other countries went off the gold/silver standards, that was a bad choice for stability. It does seem to have allowed more rapid growth of the economy, but that came with a price - less security.
The incredible amount of debt that most of the world's countries are in is also very bad for economic health. There are so many things that have contributed to this problem and I am surprised the system has done as well as it has for as long as it has. I have a few basic beliefs about politics that rule my opinions/who I vote for/what I want to see happen. What are your basic, rock bottom beliefs about government and economies?
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Translation: Any power the government has will inevitably be abused at some point. Thus, the more limited the power of the government, the more limited its power to do harm. There must be a balance between its power to protect the citizens and its power to control the citizens. Part of the way to achieve that balance is by having as few things as possible controlled by the central government, and as many things as possible controlled by each local community. The local government is closely watched and controlled by the people it is overseeing. It is much harder for the local government to abuse its power than it is for the federal government. And, when it does abuse its power, it will affect far fewer people and is much easier to stop.
The opposite, socialism/statism, where everything is controlled by the central government, has always resulted in multiple disasters affecting millions of people and a general ongoing degredation of the population's standard of living. Even the most cursory knowledge of history proves that point. The current world economic crisis is mostly the result of too much centralized power (which means less accountability and far more abuse). Our sub-prime mortgage mess here in the US is largely due to too much regulation and yet because people are scared and reality hurts there are actually calls for MORE regulation! Sorry, but I grew up in a third-world country and I hate watching my beloved America turn into a third-world country. I remember when my childhood country elected a man they knew perfectly well wanted to be dictator. Our friends said quite honestly that they knew it was stupid to elect someone who would take away most of their rights, but they told us that they needed a dictator to make sure things got done. This is a country that has a hard time developing businesses for reasons like the following example:
Say you start an auto mechanics store. You hire a couple of mechanics and buy some of the necessary parts and put out your shingle. One day when you come back from your lunch break, none of your employees are there, and most of your parts and supplies are gone - headed for the black market. You still have a little bit of money left, so now you hire your nephew and buy some new parts. You hang around the shop as much as possible to make sure he doesn't steal from you, but at least he's not as likely to try because he's related to you. You make a decent living now, but you can never feel at ease going on vacation because who knows what might happen if you are not there personally? And of course it would be quite difficult to start another branch of your store because it is so hard to find employees who won't steal and who will actually show up every day.
This is no joke. I lived there and that is what it is like. In order to pay phone and electric bills every month everybody goes to the offices and pays them in person - you can't send checks through the mail because they usually won't get there. That takes a lot of your time every month, especially if you don't have a car. I loved that country, but even as a child with no responsibilities I could see the effects of all the issues due to people not being trustworthy. If the post office had too many letters they would take some out back and burn them. Hmm...
If you talk to policemen or whatever they will loudly complain about all the corruption in the government and how it really needs to be cleaned up and people need to stop accepting bribes. But it was always "other people" who needed to change first. If you asked them, they would tell you that a man has to make a living so they would accept a bribe even if it was wrong, because, after all everyone else was doing it.
A third-world country is that way primarily because the "lowest common denominator," if you want to call it that, of morality, is too low. The less you can trust people, the poorer the country will get, inevitably. We did know some amazing and incredibly honest people in my childhood country, but they were not the norm. America used to have a lot of people with strong characters. Whatever your theory of why, everybody seems to agree nowadays that there are increasing problems with cheating and crime and and more and more hurting people. I see more and more resemblances to the country I grew up in and it scares me. The bad thing is a lot of the socialist, big brother government-type policies have encouraged less and less personal responsibility and more and more laziness. It seems like we're such a busy country, and we're so used to our comforts, that I wonder how much of the famous American backbone is left. Are we like the Romans now, "give us bread and circuses and we'll be happy" or are there enough of us like our forebears who hated the tax on imported fabrics and so began wearing buckskin to make a point to England? I think Americans want to be a strong, kind, and trustworthy people, but we are so busy and distracted that we don't have time to think about things like that much any more.
We've already lost a lot of our freedoms. Both of the presidential candidates and most of the congressional candidates would like to make a bunch more restrictions on those freedoms. Will we wake up? I don't know, but I really hope and pray that this financial crisis will wake people to the dangers of giving too many powers to the government and inspire more of us to take initiative ourselves. Thus, my continued efforts to learn to grow different kinds of food and my resolve to vote (even if I can't stand what's on the ballot) and do my best to push for fewer laws and more freedoms in this country. I also keep noticing how hard it is to find time for people and even just thinking. Have you noticed the same problem? It's really hard! But, it is essential if I want to experience my life rather than zoom through my life doing five things at once. I keep trying to decide what is vital and what isn't. This type of recreation, or that type? Do I need to do this first, or that first?
A final thought:
Issues such as healthcare and education are prime examples of capitalist versus socialist methods and what works to create the kind of healthy, efficient, working system we all want.
Sorry for the LONG post. I suggest reading Instapundit's blog every day for a month if you want a quick and extremely comprehensive education as to the state of the nation and all sorts of opposing views on issues. It's a great place to clarify one's thoughts and beliefs. Anyway, tomorrow I plan a much more cheerful and easy to digest post. Thanks for reading this far!