White House Nationalizes Another Industry

First they came for the banks, and we said nothing, then they came for the auto manufacturers, and we said nothing. Then they came for the credit card companies, and we said nothing still. At last, they came for us, and there was no one left to say anything.

What else is new? Another industry has just been served notice by the White House that it will soon be -if not nationalized, then regulated into a pretzel- by the White House. It seems that Obama does not have enough on his plate with auto czars and bank czars and despite the fact that he still has not filled in all his cabinet appointments somehow after more than a hundred days in office, he feels that he can better run still another swath of what is left of the American economy.

Today, it is credit card companies. Yes, I know, nobody likes credit card companies. They are annoying. They try to trap you into using their cards by giving you a sweetheart deal to begin with, and then hook you like a fish with sudden rate bumps, and they hound you like nobody’s business when you owe them money. Altogether, they are about as likable as the power monopolies or airline oligopolies. (See; Oligopoly And The Death Of An Old Man). So of course, the credit card industry is an easy target. It is like that creepy saying from the days of death camps and gulags in Europe; “They came for the Communists, then the Gypses…” You start with an industry that people do not like, but you keep going until you have a critical mass of the entire productive capacity of the country under direct government supervision. What do you do then? I don’t honestly know.

The White House says that credit card compenies are preying on the middle class and the poor have to be protected from “greed”. Obama trying to protect us from “greed” is worse that Bush declaring war on “terrorism”. Terrorism is a tactic. Our enemy is a bunch of psychotic, fascist Islamists who want to destroy Western civilization. Whether they use terrorism or anything else they can think of doesn’t really matter as much as their aim. With Obama, it’s worse though. We aren’t at war with a principle because we are afraid to say the politically incorrect truth, we are at war with ourselves because cynical politicians can use our own fear to satisfy the very craving they are decrying in businessmen. Bankers and credit card company executives are greedy for money, Obama is greedy for power.

I do not see a real point to the draconian controls that are going to be slapped down on this new sector of the economy except somebody’s greed for power, so a war on greed has far more hypocrisy implicit in it than Bush going after a tactic used by some of our enemies.

Arguments can and will be made that if the government just steps into any and all sectors of the economy, abrogating signed contracts between independent parties; then the entire concept of private property, contractual obligation, rule of law, indeed, the foundations of a capitalist economy, are inevitably eroded. That is a fine point to make, but it is irrelevant. We are talking to a Chicago politician here. He understands the sort of politics that Mao liked to talk about. “I got a gun and you aint” -is pretty much the speed of this Administration when it comes to Constitution, contract law, or anything else. Of course, Mao’s version was; “politics grows from the barrel of a gun”, but it’s the same sentiment.

Should I bother to mention that the Obama Administration is manifestly incapable of managing the tremendous, huge hunks of the economy they have already bitten off and are trying to directly control? Should I mention how the White House is bullying Chrysler creditors? Should I mention how the Treasury is still understaffed? Should I mention that the bank bailouts have not worked, and neither Geithner nor Obama knows where all the money went? Should I mention the billions of dollars that flowed effortlessly and instantly overseas? What about the lovely episode of the AIG bonuses?

I would bring up facts and figures, but the American public doesn’t care about them. I would bring up history, but they have watched history unfold and are utterly unmoved. I begin to think that there is nothing that can be said or done to move the people of the United States to register that the economy is being fundamentally altered, and not in a good way.

The real puzzle for me is why? I just cannot understand how anybody could think that a vast nationalization of gigantic hunks of our economy could be efficient, productive, or in any other way good. Only one possible benefit comes to mind. This has to give the guy at the top of the pyramid some kind of serious power trip. The kind of heady rush you feel when you phone up GM CEO Jim Wagoner and tell him to empty his desk. The kind of rush you have to feel when you order Air Force One to do another lap around the Statue Of Liberty just for the hell of it. (The only logical explanation for the fighter escort and the White House telling local authorities not to tell civilians is if somebody very important is on that plane who’se future location you do not want people to be able to predict. Also, can you explain why there was no helicopter there taking pictures?)

This high, this head trip, of controlling billions, trillions, hundreds of thousands of employees, millions of citizens, is the only logical explanation for why you would want to nationalize one sector after another after another ad infinitum. You have to keep taking over bigger things; keep trying to gain more control over more people, because the old rush just doesn’t do it anymore. Somebody making economic policy for our nation is a power junkie.

This same somebody seems to think that he can announce 200 billion dollars in savings after he created a multi-trillion dollar debt and we will fall all over ourselves in ecstasy. Excuse me? You ran up $4,000 on daddy’s credit card and you expect him to be impressed because you got a great deal on some clothes and saved $100? This is the guy who is now telling us; after his masterful handling of AIG, after his genius work with the bailouts, after his messianic prowess with Chrysler and GM, that we must do something about the credit card industry right now. Oh yeah, you know what? I am starting to think people are in the mood to buy anything. Maybe I should go into this guy’s business and start selling people the Golden Gate Bridge.

Along the line somewhere, amid the hype about how “unfair” it is that little guys should have to pay all those pesky credit card bills (and mortgages), we have forgotten something basic. If you cannot count on the rules of the game staying the same; if the government of a state spasmodically nationalizes whatever it sees; if a contract does not mean anything, and nobody has to pay for what they bought; then all those hard nosed capitalists who the Obama people love to hate will pack up their bags and move to somewhere where a contract is a contract. They are where they are because they look for profit. They will not lend if they think a government will change the rules on them overnight. There are states in the World where businesses do not bother to invest at all, because the rules change and if you build something too big, the government will take it from you to feed the ego of the man on top of the pile.

Those states are not us. We have always been a state that respects rule of law over all. We have always been a merchant state of capitalists. It was said of us that the “business of America is business”. We need those laws. We need those contracts. Without them, the money flies away, and we are left asking for handouts from the World Bank and wondering where our good old days went.

I would point this out in facts and figures, if I thought anybody cared anymore.

Well, we have recovered from worse things. This particular binge just happens to be of unprecedented proportion, and so will the hangover.

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~ by Jubal Biggs on May 10, 2009.

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