Saturday, February 21, 2009

Andrew Sullivan's worried

Andrew Sullivan, in yesterday's A Conservative of Doubt, feels like so many that we need to support the stimulus because we have little choice, and because the Democrats are in charge and have the right to try their solutions. But he's nervous:
I fear the depression that we are in will lead to more and more decisions that, while pragmatic and defensible by themselves, can add up to a huge shift in government's role in ways that will not help and we may not recognize till it is too late; I worry that throwing a lifeline to some in a tail-spin might unwittingly lead to a deeper sense that deadbeats and gamblers will always be rewarded by government while thrifty and ethical people get the shaft; I worry that Keynesianism is not a panacea and may prevent a necessary long-term reckoning with debt and deadwood; I worry that the consequence-free, debt-fueled capitalism we let grow this past decade requires a nastier payback than we think we deserve.
This is exactly what I've been concerned about, that we will see such a swing back toward the "cool, steady hand" of government (big sarcasm intended) that we will create undampened, growing perturbations in our economy. I expressed this just Tuesday in "I'm excited," a post that decried the reckless enthusiasm that some have for this very risky strategy.

One commenter wrote that I was "naive" to take the enthusiasm of some Democrats, as personified by Maxine Waters on ABC's This Week, at face value, that "our leadership needs to communicate calm comfort." I can only assume that this commenter missed the show, because Rep. Waters was anything but calm; she was downright giddy at the prospect of spending trillions of taxpayer dollars.

I think our new president has hit the right note for the most part. Obama has been serious, realistic, and has talked about the faults in the system that will have to be corrected. I think he understands the gravity of the problems, and knows that we're going to have to go through some difficulties before we get back on track, no matter what the government does.

Are his fears equivalent to Sullivan's and mine? I don't know, but I'm guessing he's as daunted by the new great experiment as I am. The risks he faces are not just political; this nation really could end up damaged in major ways. Just because, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune today, "frugal is the new cool," doesn't mean that we should take pride in the clipping of coupons or the creation of compost heaps. This reduces a situation that is causing real pain to people and families to the level of a craft project, and is as unrealistic as the old profligacy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

if it's not signed clearly, and it's pretty critical (not without basis), it's me. always. it's a pain to authenticate (even with openid) so i'll sign.


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