But, unlike neocons at Fox and on the radio, and other advocates of Big Brothernment, true Conservatives have no problem at all with this, for two reasons:
First) It’s true. Bush governed like a Liberal, spending money, increasing regulations, and dragging us into a trillion dollars in wars, and then mismanaged them abysmally. Even if it is embarrassing to ”our side”, we believe in supporting the truth, taking responsibility for mistakes (something Bush rarely did), and fixing problems.
Second) It’s not a condemnation of Conservatism, anyway, because Bush was so Liberal. Like neocons in general, he only talked Conservative, but when the chips were down he always turned to huge government solutions, more squandering of taxpayer money, et cetera.
It’s no surprise that we had economic and political trauma, when Bush violated Conservative principles in these ways:
- He had claimed the economy needed to be deregulated, yet he rolled out more huge regulatory schemes, even counting only his first two years in office, than Clinton did in eight…hundreds of billions of dollars in new regulations on insurance, shipping, health care, and many other industries.
- Even his “tax cuts” were mostly semi-annual welfare checks disguised as “refunds”, along with “tax credits” that are literally welfare, plus a maze of new exemptions that truly increased tax compliance cost just as much as any actual tax savings. Compare this to Reagan simplifying the tax code so much that people saved as much in compliance costs as they saved in taxes.
- His “solution” to the failure of socialized education was to break his School Choice promise and set up a massive Federal bureaucracy called No Child Left Behind.
- His response to 9-11 was to set up a police state in violation of the Constitution, to refuse Afghanistan’s offer to turn over bin Laden for war crimes trial in order to invade, and to attack Al Qaeda’s mortal enemy, Saddam Hussein.
- His promise to make Socialist Security more privatized and voluntary was abandoned because he was spending all of his political capital on a voluntary trillion-dollar set of wars.
- Speaking of socialism, until Obama’s health care plan passes (shudder), Bush’s prescription drug plan stands as the largest socialized medicine expansion in US history.
- Speaking of being more Liberal than Clinton, in EVERY SINGLE YEAR, of his eight years in office, Bush increased domestic spending more than Clinton did in his entire second term.
- His answer to Katrina was to throw $87,000,000,000 dollars at the region, that had already squandered more than the rest of the nation’s combined Army Corps of Engineers budget at NOT fixing its levees.
- His response to the economic decline was to not only increase spending above his super-Clinton levels, but to bail out companies and squander hundreds of billions on “stimulus” packages that actually depress the economy more.
Who’s seriously surprised that this kind of socialism caused an economic depression? Hoover’s big-government approach helped cause the Great Depression, and Bush’s similar approach did the same.
Real Conservatives don’t try to defend this. Instead, we say:
Yes, that’s right, Bush’s domestic policies cause economic catastrophe…so stop doing exactly the same stuff, Obama!
When people object anything relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neocons claim that they should be quiet and comply, because the criticism hurts the feelings of “the troops”, who are busy “defending our freedom” over there.
I do appreciate that the soldiers feel like they’re serving America…but defending our…freedom?
Our freedom? We Americans, here in the United States?
When I’m faced with this argument, it is hard to give a clear, coherent response for or against, because the claim makes no sense to me, whatsoever.
This is an honest question, not sarcasm:
What, exactly, does the conquest of Iraq have to do with American freedom?
Did we conquer Iraq for American freedom?
- First, we built up momentum to attack because Hussein was supposedly involved in 9-11.
But then it became more widely understood that Hussein was one of Al Qaeda’s mortal enemies. In fact, one of the things bin Laden demanded was that Hussein, whom he referred to as a socialist infidel, be removed from power. So…
- Second, when we actually attacked, it was supposedly because of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We knew Iraq once had WMD, because we openly sold Hussein the technology for them, in the 1980s, and claimed we thought they still had somehow kept some, despite the years of inspections.
But it turned out, after we got there, that we had known he didn’t have the WMD any more at all, so…
- Third, we retroactively decided we were there to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He is a dictator, killed hundreds of thousands of people, imposed tyrannical laws, et cetera.
Of course we supported him doing ALL of those things, including the mass murder, for decades, we even sold him WMD tech months after acknowledging that he was slaughtering innocents with it, but let’s just pretend that’s why we invaded, anyway. It sounds good.
The problem is that NONE of those things have anything to do with American freedom.
The Warfare Facts
- First, 9-11 wasn’t an assault on American freedom. Al Qaeda was attacking in order to change our foreign policy (giving money to Islamic tyrants, occupying Saudi Arabia, killing a million people in Iraq with economic sanctions, backing Israeli war crimes).
…in fact, the only 9-11 related assault on freedom was domestic, like the PATRIOT Act.
- Second, American freedom wasn’t going to be threatened by Hussein having mustard gas, or anthrax, or even nuclear bombs. Nobody ever seriously suggested he could conquer the US with his mighty navy of 16 wooden patrol boats and his deadly force of a few dozen short-range SCUD missiles, no matter how many WMD he loaded on them.
Liberty depends on economic freedom…whomever controls your life needs, controls you. This war has crippled the US economically, which had turned into an assault on our freedom of choice. By the way, why exactly did we sell him WMD technology in the first place?
- Third, that’s barely even a fight for Iraqi freedom, since they’re voting as much against freedom now as anyone who knew about the region would have expected. The laws passed are on their way to becoming more repressive than under Hussein’s secular government. These include a move to make burqas mandatory, and growing bans on freedom of expression. Certainly overthrowing Hussein has nothing to do with freedom here in America.
Actual Assault on American Freedom
Because we’ve been “on war footing” for six years, BOTH parties have used the “don’t criticize the government during a war” argument, dramatically attacking American freedom of expression. We have had “free speech zones“, warrantless wire tapping, demands that we not criticize foreign policy lest the troops feel bad, secrecy regarding torture and other violations of American principles, et cetera.
We have had economic malaise caused by both the huge deficits and diversion of wealth-production the war produced, and the 700% increase in the price of oil that attacking or threatening four different oil-producing nations caused. And this resulted in a depression that Bush and Obama have used to expand government massively into our personal lives, and to loot our future to pay off failing multinational corporations, perhaps the most vicious of the attacks on our freedom.
You know, there may be a country closer to home than Iraq, where our troops should be fighting a government that is attacking American freedom…
Anyway, I definitely need someone to explain what is the “defending AMERICAN freedom” part of invading, conquering, and occupying Iraq.
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
– Oscar Wilde, A Portrait of Mr. W.H.
When the unaccountable, secretive arm of the banking industry known as the Federal Reserve started lending itself (the banking industry) billions of newly invented dollars, late last year, responsible people all over America were horrified.
Some of the soundest economic minds even started predicting “hyperinflation”.
Well, it’s been three quarters, now…soon it’ll be a year.
“Where,” other people are saying, “oh where is that oh-so-scary hyperinflation?”
The answer comes in several parts:
What is Hyperinflation? Hyperinflation is a specific thing. It’s not the three percent inflation we normally “enjoy”, any more than it’s a flavor of cream pie. We must define what it is, in order to know if it happens.
What Causes Hyperinflation? Having defined it, we need to know if the things that cause it are happening. The Fed has printed new money for nearly 100 years, never with hyperinflation. Is what happened recently sufficient to change that?
How Long Would it Take? Is it too late? It’s been nine months; are we safe?
Well, Let’s See
What is hyperinflation?
Well, “inflation” is when you increase the amount of money, or the supply of it compared to the demand for goods in society…but when non-economists say “inflation”, they usually mean “prices go up”.
And so “hyperinflation” is just “prices going up really, really fast”. The amount necessary to count is generally said to be “100% per year for three years”, for long-term hyperinflation, or else “50% per month” for short-term hyperinflation.
The most inflation we’ve ever suffered, in the 1970s, was less than 14% per year. Normally, it’s between 2% and 3%.
Right now, prices are going DOWN most months, not up. There isn’t even price stability now, much less price inflation.
But why would prices be going up OR down, in an unhealthy way?
Almost exactly 100 years ago, in 1907, the US suffered yet another in a long series of destructive depressions and panics, generally caused by money shortages creating runs on banks, price failures, stock market crashes, et cetera.
But this one was stopped dead in its tracks by a group of wealthy entrepreneurs who made very short-term loans to various financial groups, allowing banks to pay off depositors, et cetera. The result was the downturn cut short, never becoming a full-blown depression.
A brilliant lesson was about to be learned, but unfortunately government prevented that. Instead of a newish industry of short-term finance lenders/insurers springing up, the Federal Government announced it was going to act in that role, from now on. It created the Federal Reserve, which would use its coercive power to print imaginary new money to lend to financial institutions in times of crisis.
(Sadly, it did the opposite; it lent out newly minted money in good times, but tended to cut it off whenever there was a financial panic, which was the only time it was supposed to lend in the first place…this is part of what triggered the start of the Great Depression in 1929)
Well, the Fed is a whole other discussion, of course, so we’re going to skip ahead, now
So instead of lending out money during a crisis, the Federal Reserve increases the amount of money a few percent per year, lending it out in good times. This is part of why we have (usually moderate) inflation…the amount of money increases faster than the demand for goods, so there’s more money to spend than stuff to buy, and prices increase.
But from 2004 through 2008, the Fed did something it hadn’t done since 1938 when we went off the Gold Standard: It started DECREASING money supply:
Notice that the most important line, the red M1, goes below zero (to shrinking money), and stays negative longer than it had been at any but one time in fifty years. And currency (actual paper money) falls lower than ANY time in that span.
This is because M3, which includes money in foreign banks, was going up so quickly: Money was fleeing the US because of our wars, and the 700% inflated oil prices, and our billions in new foreign aid. We would buy oil that should have cost a few hundred billion, but instead cost us trillions, and send the money for that oil to Saudi Arabia, and other foreign countries.
Over the course of four years, this added up to a shortfall of between two and three trillion dollars in the domestic US economy. That money was all overseas.
Here comes deflation
This didn’t even leave enough money to pay for our normal goods, much less allow the economy to grow…plus, of course, the cost of making things was shooting up from the high oil prices, as all things require energy, while there was LESS money to cover that universal new expense.
The result? Deflation, and therefore a money shortage, that led to the economic depression starting in 2008. There was not enough money to run the economy, so prices began FALLING, the US suffering what appeared to be a “loss” of about three trillion dollars. This was simply the change in prices to represent the trillions missing because of M1 shrinking for four years.
The Federal Reserve’s response? It actually CUT its offered money supply in 2008, by refusing to lend to banks suffering financial trauma…once again failing to act in its sole official role of “lender of last resort” as in 1907.
But it couldn’t keep that up, because deflation destroys a market economy.
So, once this cutting off of emergency money caused the banks to start failing, the Fed belatedly loosened its purse strings: It lend out over two trillion dollars to financial institutions, in just a few months.
Is It Enough to be Hyper?
Now if the Fed did this all the time, lending out a trillion dollars each month when the economy was just fine, we might really have hyperinflation.
But, instead, the Fed did this ONE TIME, starting from a money deficit of three trillion dollars.
So, in fact, what it did was produce enough new money to, hopefully, make up for the money shortage.
Being down trillions of dollars, then adding two trillion, could not make prices double every year. Or even once.
Even if there had been no shortage, two trillion is not enough to increase prices by 50% every month, nor 100% every year, because it is a fraction of the many trillions of dollars in our economy, and only happened one time. Hyperinflation requires more money to be printed even as prices are going through the roof, so that people come to expect it and overprice things ahead of time.
But, even if it had been enough to cause hyperinflation, there’s one last big factor:
We can’t guarantee that there will be NO backlash from this infusion of money, until about 18 months have passed. Historically, changes in money supply take between 6 and 18 months to hit prices in an economy. It has to gradually spread throughout the system, being spent, invested, and saved over and again, until its full impact is felt and absorbed.
So we have until mid 2010 to see whether there are SOME effects from the unhealthy throwing of two trillion unearned dollars at our socialized banking institutions.
What About Government Spending?
For better or worse, it is actually impossible for government spending to “stimulate” an economy, at all. And since the current “stimulus packages” are financed by bonds and deficit, not the printing of money, they are actually DE-Flationary. Read the above link, to understand exactly why these things are so.
Sorry, Not Even Close
But, ultimately, whatever backlash there is, it cannot be hyperinflation. With an economy of, depending on how you count, eight to twelve trillion dollars, you can’t make prices jump even 50%, even for ONE month (and it must keep happening, to be hyper), by printing two trillion new dollars. Not even if there were not already deflation to counter.
Little Old Lady: [Long Island Accent] This tiger repellent is so expensive, I may have to cut back on my groceries to keep getting it!
Sane Person: But…tiger repellent is a scam! Why would you buy such a thing? It’s a waste of money!
Little Old Lady: Well, I started buying it when that magician got mauled. And obviously it works; I haven’t been attacked by a tiger, since!
No matter whether Bush’s policies violated every American principle or not, one thing you can definitely say is that we haven’t had a terrorist attack on US soil in the seven years since he started them.
Nor have we been attacked by tigers.
In fact, we did not have a terrorist attack on US soil for almost ten years BEFORE 9-11. Crediting Bush’s violation of every American and Conservative principle with this “safety” is actually somewhat more foolish than the little old lady buying tiger repellent.
Unless it actually attracts tigers.
Because Bush’s evils, committed in our name, like:
- Torturing now-helpless captives
- Attacking countries without provocation
- Rounding up people at random from suspected areas and keeping them for months, or years, without outside contact or even determining which ones, if any, are actually the targets
- Handing out billions in cash and military supplies to top state sponsors of terrorism like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia
All have increased likelihood of attacks against America.
It is no coincidence that terrorist attacks worldwide increased with each implementation of these policies. That they didn’t happen in the US is because zero times some amount is still zero.
These evils are a perfect recruitment system for terrorism. What other way do these people have to stop us? Would YOU not fight back, if these things were being done to your family?
Evils we would not normally commit, we should not commit just to gain some benefit…but especially when the benefit is imaginary. “We haven’t been attacked since 9-11″ is as ridiculous as “I haven’t been attacked by a tiger since Siegfried and Roy were attacked”.
We all know that high gas/energy prices, driven by high oil prices, are a large part of what has crippled the US economy.
But what has caused that?
Oil prices are not set by oil companies, but by futures and commodities speculators, who bid on the oil at auctions. The companies have no more control over the price than someone selling with a regular auction on EBay.
The speculators decide what they are willing to pay, based on what they believe the future of oil to be.
How Prices Rose
In 1999, the monopolistic oil cartel OPEC started cutting production, specifically to help themselves and their allies get rich by driving up the price of oil. Speculators, naturally, started bidding more for oil, expecting there to be a shortage. It went from well under $20 per barrel to over $30.
Then George W Bush got elected.
People assumed, because wealthy oil barons in Texas and Saudi Arabia were largely responsible for financing him, that plentiful oil was in their future. This ignored history, of course, because plentiful oil is cheap, and cheap oil is bad for oil barons. The more expensive oil is, the better. It would have made more sense to expect Bush to do things that would drive up the price of oil.
But they assumed it’d be plentiful, so they bid lower on it, and the price fell. It got almost back down to its natural, under-$20 price range.
But that was bad for Bush’s financiers.
In fact, there was a lot of loud public worry, among oil barons, about how the price of oil was returning to normal.
Then came September 11th, 2001.
After 9-11, there were many ways America could go.
The way Bush chose to lead, was to first attack Afghanistan. He said this was because they were harboring bin Laden. He promised, though, that he was going to exhaust all diplomatic means, and only attack them as a last resort.
But before he attacked, the government of Afghanistan, a long-time US ally whom Bush had just recently sent, openly and on record, a great deal of grant money for their help, offered to turn over bin Laden for war crimes trial.
Bush ignored the offer, refusing even to discuss it with them. When they offered a second time, the US attacked the very next day.
Speculators saw this as a very bad sign for oil, because Afghanistan was closely aligned with many oil-producing countries, and they bid more for it, driving the price into the high $20 range, fifty percent higher than its natural price.
Then Bush began threatening to attack Iraq. Now Afghanistan had at least some association with Al Qaeda…but Iraq, of course, was ruled by Al Qaeda’s #2 enemy after the US: Saddam Hussein.
Oil speculators found this pretty scary, and confusing. The price of oil rose to close to $40, more than twice its natural range.
Gradually, it declined, on the promise of cheap oil from Iraq, even though every government projection of conquering Iraq anticipated years of quagmire and turmoil, jeopardizing oil supplies for a long time to come. This is why his father had not done it.
(more after this K-rad graphic)
Sure enough, as time war on, the war got worse, and the speculators responded by bidding ever-higher for oil.
What’s more, whenever the price was finally stabilizing a bit, the Bush administration would do something else that threatened the oil supply, like picking fights with Hugo Chavez, or threatening to attack Iran. Each time, investors were frightened, and the oil price climbed.
Eventually, this kind of belligerent foreign policy pattern pushed it up to $140 per barrel, over 700% above its natural price of just a few years earlier.
Sane Foreign Policy?
Then, in early 2008, it began to grow increasingly likely that Barak Obama would be the Democratic nominee. Unlike Hillary, he had always opposed this kind of foreign policy. Speculators began to weigh the possibility of a different foreign policy into their price bids.
As he clinched the nomination, and then began to dominate the polls versus McCain, the amount speculators were willing to pay steadily declined.
By the time he was elected, which had been seen as a probable for some time, they had built a peaceful foreign policy into the price, so that it was half its peak.
The day after he was elected, the price fell dramatically.
Now it remains in a holding pattern, a fraction of its peak just a year ago…waiting to see if Barak Obama is going to keep his promise of sane foreign policy. If he does, we could see oil falling down to its natural price, which by now is probably little more than $30 a barrel.
Ironically, sane foreign policy has an even greater impact on what the investors in oil are willing to pay, than Obama’s own position as a Liberal enemy of the energy needs of Americans.