03 Aug 2009

We’ll Get Through This Depression, Too

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Lately I’ve realized how much it bums people out when I calmly explain to them that Bush, Ben, and ‘Bama are doing a great job…if their goal is to re-create the Great Depression. So in the present post, let me explain why I’m not devastated.

First, I have my religious faith. I won’t delve into such matters here, but longtime readers know that on Sundays we bring up the J-word. Needless to say, if you “actually believe that stuff?!”, then it brings a certain degree of peace of mind.

Second, and on purely rational grounds, what we need to remind ourselves is that we are all standing on an unbelievable hunk of natural resources, just waiting to be tapped. In terms of the riches that can be showered upon us from this oblong spheroid on which we circle a star, we have–quite literally–just scratched the surface. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama could change policies regarding offshore and Alaskan oil drilling. That would magically place billions of barrels of new oil in the hands of the free world.

(And by the way, my new term for “the private sector” will be “the free world.” If the enviros are going to start calling it “clean energy,” then I’m calling my special interest group “the free world.”)

It’s not even just a matter of natural resources. The government could legalize all forms of currently heavily regulated commerce. There would be an explosion in productivity and wealth creation from such a movement, which would include drug, prostitution, and gambling legalizations. (And part of the newfound prosperity would be due to the drop in gang violence, mafia revenues, and STDs.)

This is what the government did during the Great Depression. In his first month in office, FDR ended alcohol Prohibition. (As he signed the bill, he reportedly said, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”)

I get so amused by all these Fox News commentators explaining how Obama’s gonna be another Jimmy Carter. No he won’t; he will legalize marijuana coast to coast if things get really awful. You’re telling me liberals are going to vote for the Republican, and repudiate the administration of the First Black President, after he drives the price of the best pot these people have ever smoked, down to $10 per eighth of an ounce? I think not!

Things are a little creepier with health care. They will install some asinine program this year, and it will indeed make things much worse. Yet when the plan is quite evidently bankrupt, the government can at that point allow people to trade away their bodily organs for “health care credits.” For example, a poor guy who needs a heart transplant can trade in his spare kidney in order to bid on the available (compatible) hearts.

So it’s true, once we are in the throes of Obama Care, at that point it will probably help people to allow them to sell off body parts. In the example above, the poor guy is choosing between life and death; taking away his option would spell his death. And it’s not even a matter of him getting the heart, versus somebody else. Because everybody is selling their organs into circulation, there is a greater supply and more people can get life-saving operations. (Keep in mind people could sign away the right to their organs after they die.)

And yet, this logic breaks down when the government virtually monopolizes health care. Then it might literally adopt policies to allow them to harvest some people’s organs. I am NOT saying that the present administration is planning to do that. What I AM saying is that if you allow the government to take over health care, then you have to hope that you never get some really evil people in office, because they could look at everyone as cattle.

In conclusion, we will get through this depression. The people in power need the society to function at a basic level. There’s no point in running the world if you can’t trust the airplanes to work! During the 1930s, the people in charge realized they had miscalculated; things were worse than they had anticipated. (Remember, these people presumably aren’t experts in classical liberal thought. If you spend your whole life plotting to become senator, you probably haven’t read de Tocqueville in the original French.)

So in the 1930s, they pulled back and repealed Prohibition. They actually had to amend the Constitution, to undo the previous Amendment. Now I suppose a true conspiracy theorist will say that too was all part of the diabolical plan; perhaps the point was to show that the formal amendment process was too annoying, and that the Supreme Court should just interpret the document as a living thing.

In any event, they allowed people to buy and sell liquor again. Can you imagine how great a boost that would have been, had the country not been in the depths of the Great Depression?

Many economists wonder what magic spell FDR spun, since he got the economy to turn around on a dime virtually the moment he was sworn in. A lot of the economists think it was FDR’s decision to take the dollar off gold, giving the green light to the Fed to print money. But maybe, just maybe, it was the legalization of alcohol.

If things get really bad, they can do the same with pot or organ selling. We are incredibly, fantastically wealthy. The government will have no choice but to lift some of the shackles in the coming depression.

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