Anyone who reads here regularly (all 4 of you ;-)) know that I try to stay away from the political arena. Trust me, I have opinions, I just choose to mostly keep them to myself. However, the economic morass that is developing before our eyes (“just because you are alive doesn’t mean that what’s happening isn’t historic”) has caused me to break my own rule and write this post.
In my view (admittedly libertarian) the one thing the government is there for is to give the public confidence. Now that can range from the simple confidence that they are their to protect the broad public from foreign and domestic enemies, or it can be the personal confidence that the government will take care of “me” if I fall on to hard times and need a little help to get back up. However, the instillation (is that a word? if so, I really like it) of confidence is the key role the government has to play in my view.
However, also in my view, the actions of the government the last few months have done exactly the opposite. When they aren’t taking actions that are do drastic that they telegraph to everyone “it’s really bad out there”, they are taking actions that sing “we have no idea what we’re doing…or what we’re going to do next”. First they’re buying troubled assets (I bet they’d like to lay a TARP over the mess they made), then they’re regulating credit cards (with 12 months of warning so the credit card the companies have enough time to stick it to all balance holders). The sad thing is, I think some in government actually think this desperate and erractic behavior is helping things – that things could be worse.
With that last sentiment, I do agree: things could be worse. And unfortunately I think they will be before they are better. The sooner the government does their job and restores confidence, the sooner that better will be here.






8 responses to “Confidence”

  1. Dave B Avatar
    Dave B

    Ok, I’ll comment first and the other three of use who read your blog can follow 😉
    I hear ya on keeping low on politics. It’s so polarizing that it seems to ruin friendships because things can get so personal. I try really hard not to let it go that far. That’s why I started a “shadow” blog with my brother so we can vent.
    The whole thing with the TARP is a flop. As Jim Cramer (CNBC’s Mad Money guy) says “No one made a dime by panicking”. In this case, no one saves a country by panicking. TARP was done out of a panic. The main point was “if we don’t do this then the banks will collapse” and people needed to hear why this bell wasn’t rung long ago. I know government isn’t perfectl, but I’m still not all clear on how this became an issue so fast.
    So this leads to another condition I hate – “Groupthink”. Just get a bunch of people in the same room to shake their heads up and down and you’ll see they’ll fall for anything.
    I guess my engineering background is showing huh? Stick to the facts and don’t act out of emotion. Yes, it is hard to do. Discipline minus emotion in any industry/area leads to sustained and manageable growth.
    Ok, enough of me on the soapbox. Chris, I hope you and your family will have a great holiday season!

  2. Chris Avatar

    “shadow blog” – I like it. Now I will have to use my google powers to find it 😉
    Agree with you completely on “issue of the moment” syndrome. Why is that politicians want to be like superheros – fly in, do something dramatic and then fly out? Maybe they should all get issued super-suits when they show up in Washington?

  3. Cosmo Borzillo Avatar

    Hi. I am Dave B.'s brother. Unbeknownst to me, I wrote on Dave and my political blog about the same subject on the same day you did. He told me about the coincidence. I name names and blame some politicians, however. See:

  4. Fleep Tuque Avatar

    Ditto on the trying to stay apolitical for the most part. The few times I’ve posted something overtly political on my blog in the past few months, it was for the same reason – this economic mess is SUCH a mess, it feels like I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something.
    Unfortunately, confidence is the very last thing I feel about the actions Uncle Sam has taken in the past few months. In fact, as cynical as I was before, I don’t think I would have expected them to be quite as inept as they’ve actually been. It’s kind of astonishing, really, how.. disorganized, convoluted, and confusing the reaction has been. One day it’s about buying up troubled assets, the next it’s about unfreezing credit and liquidity, then injecting stimulus, now the term “shovel-ready” infrastructure spending seems to be the topic du jour.. And I’ve yet to see ANY of these strategies have any positive effect on anyone I know.
    I come from the perspective that government is supposed to do for us collectively what we can’t do for ourselves individually – public infrastructure and public goods like parks and roads, military defense and representing our national interests on the global stage, that sort of thing. I suppose some element of that is lending an air of confidence and assurance that things will be all right in troubled times. Unfortunately, they seem to be blowing it on all counts these days, and as far as I can tell, they’re far more worried about corporate citizens than human ones.
    I’m trying to hold off on mega-pessimism till we see what happens in the next term. It’s hard to talk about having hope without it sounding like a campaign slogan, but I reserve a little hope that the next administration will help provide some leadership instead of this willy-nilly seeming patch job we’ve seen so far. I guess we’ll see!

  5. Mark Burhop Avatar

    I saw a poll the other day that said the economy was peoples biggest worry trouncing terrorism, social security, etc.
    To me, the economy isn't my biggest worry, it is the solutions that might be implemented to fix it. Doesn't anyone do the math and a cost/benefit analysis anymore?

  6. Chris Avatar

    Fleep – blowing it on all counts is exactly right. I am with you on holding out a bit of “hope” for the next term, especially since Obama seems to be bringing on people that are ostensibly smarter than he in their subject areas. Now he just has to listen to them…

  7. govinda Avatar

    You’re still a libertarian, even now? At this point, there is no more discredited notion than libertarianism. It’s dead. It’s worthless. It’s 180 degrees from useful. In fact, it’s never been worth anything except to people who were overly impressed with Ayn Rand in high school and never grew out of it. Add to them the people who run across the libertarianism in the dopy Ron Paul variant and think it sounds kinda hip, despite the utter lack of coherent thinking behind Paul’s version.
    The idea that government should run without regulation is precisely what led us to this catastrophe. Such a notion is tantamount to what George Soros memorably termed ‘free market fundamentalism,’ the dogma that free markets will cure all, despite the fact that there never has nor never will be a free market–it’s a silly fantasy subscribed to by charlatans. To paraphrase Paul Krugman, ‘Just as there are no atheists in a foxhole, there are no libertarians in a financial meltdown.’
    The only possible rescue now that libertarian thinking has brought us to this precipice will come right from the notebooks of John Maynard Keynes. Settle in and watch.
    The US probably has an additional two trillion in debt capacity. We may use 75% of that getting consumption back where it needs to be in our consumer-driven economy. If that kind of government spending was really going to be a problem, short-term treasuries wouldn’t be trading at near-zero rates. Google the term ‘flight to quality.’ Our debt is still quality because we’re the only port in this storm, even now. The minute we stop selling our bonds is when you should worry.

  8. Chris Avatar

    I don’t claim to be a die hard libertarian, but I do believe in small government. If you have small government, you don;t need a lot of oversight because there’s not a lot that needs to be watched.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *