Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

Not the Semblance of Authority

One day in the House of Representatives, a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Colonel David Crockett arose:

Mr. Speaker–I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.

Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

(Source: Not Yours to Give)

1,000 Cuts

I heard this interview with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on NPR last night and it keeps rattling around my mind. It is a short 4 minute interview, take a moment to listen:

Transcript here.

So basically, Al-Qaida’s strategy is to bankrupt the US by making security so expensive that it breaks the economy. I don’t know if that would work but it is at least making travel a huge pain. What got me scratching my head is, assuming that the plan would work, how do we fight against it? There isn’t a country to attack or assets to freeze. There is no large-scale invasion to repel, just a series of small attacks that make us continually ramp up security in more and more areas. Even if it doesn’t break the US economy it does slowly rob us of our freedom. So how do we respond?

Oddly enough, this morning the answer that made sense to me was the same answer I’ve been toying with as a response to the getting the middle class back to work, which is the REAL threat to the US economy. When the housing bubble burst, it weakened an already hobbled middle class. The money that should trickle down from the rich in the US is currently going to fund the blooming Chinese and Indian middle classes. The Tea Party keeps talking about cutting taxes and the President keeps talking about education and infrastructure and in my mind neither one of these answers the question: how do we get the middle class back to work?

So where does fighting Al-Qaida and employing our middle class come together? Green technology. Whether you’re Al Gore or a climate change denier you have to admit that the rest of the world is very excited about the climate. According to Gartenstein-Ross, Al-Qaida will not touch global oil production because they want to use that revenue stream to fund the (theoretically) coming global Islamic caliphate. So what would happen if the US became the world leader in creating and producing green technology? We could employ many in our middle class from engineers designing it to blue collar workers producing it and export it to the world. We would have to be careful to not export the production (again) but I believe there is a worldwide market for green technology that actually works.

At the same time, green technology would help us ween ourselves from our oil addiction. This would change global economic dynamics and serve to un-fund the potential caliphate. What else does the Middle East have to export? Sand. This could be demoralizing to Al-Qaida and their potential recruits. Also, there is a general suspicion that some of the oil money that goes to Middle Eastern nations winds up in terrorist hands. If we can diminish our demand for that oil it would being to remove those funds as well.

Seems like a win-win to me. Like I said, you don’t have to buy the global warming argument to see the benefit of this approach. Now, if only we heard a presidential candidate or a political party think along these lines instead of either supporting or opposing unions and taxes in order to be re/elected.

Proverbs for our Current Economic Times

Actually, this proverb is for all economic times and should have been heeded before we got in this mess, but still…

One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth – Prov 13:7

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. – Prov 13:11

The way to read a proverb is not like it is a plain statement of fact, but as wisdom. Read it and reflect on it. The fullness of its meaning may not be obvious on the first pass, you may need to reflect on it and chew on it for a while to get what it means. Ultimately, you need wisdom to understand wisdom but it is available to the foolish if they’ll turn and hear.

So in light of the housing bubble and burst and the current credit crisis, read and reflect.