The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Steyn on the Stimulus: "Where Nations Go to Die"
The more interviews Speaker Pelosi gives explaining how vital the STD industry is to restarting the U.S. economy, the more I find myself hearing “syphilis” every time she says “stimulus.” In late September, America was showing the first signs of “primary stimulus”—a few billion lesions popping up on the rarely glimpsed naughty bits of the economy: the subprime mortgage racket, the leverage kings. Now, the condition has metastasized in a mere four months into the advanced stages of “tertiary stimulus,” with trillions of hideous, ever more inflamed pustules sprouting in every nook and cranny as the central nervous system of the body politic crumbles into total insanity—until it seems entirely normal for the second-in-line of presidential succession to be on TV gibbering away about how vital the federalization of condom distribution is to economic recovery.
The rules in this new “post-partisan” era are pretty simple: If the Democratic party wants it, it’s “stimulus.” If the Republican party opposes it, it’s “politics”—as in headlines like this: “Obama Urges GOP To Keep Politics To A Minimum On Stimulus.” These are serious times: As the president says, it’s the worst economic crisis since the Thirties. So politicians need to put politics behind them and immediately lavish $4.19 billion on his community-organizing pals at the highly inventive “voter registration” group ACORN for “neighborhood stabilization activities.”
“Neighborhood stabilization activities.” That sounds like a line item from the Baath-party budget when Saddam sends the lads in to gas the Kurds. What does it mean in a non-totalitarian sense? Do you need a federally subsidized condom to do it? If so, will a pathetic $4.19 billion be enough?
“Stimulus” comes from the verb stimulare, which is Latin for “transfer massive sums of money from what remains of the dynamic sector of the economy to the special interests of the Democratic party.” No, hang on, my mistake. Stimulare means “to goad.” And, on that front, the Democrats are doing an excellent job. They’ve managed to goad 58 percent of the American people into opposing the “stimulus” package. They’ve managed to goad all 177 Republicans in the House into unpacking their mothballed cojones and voting against the bill. And they’ve managed to goad the rest of the world into ending the Obama honeymoon in nothing flat. Headline from the London Daily Telegraph: “US-EU Trade War Looms As Barack Obama Bill Urges ‘Buy American.’ ”
That would be the provision in the Senate bill prohibiting any foreign-made goods from being used in “stimulus” projects. So, if you own a rubber plantation in Malaysia and you’re hoping for a piece of Nancy Pelosi’s condom action, forget it. The EU trade commissioner is outraged at the swaggering cowboy Obama shooting from the hip and unilaterally banning European goods from American soil. But so are American companies such as General Electric. Bill Lane, an executive honcho with Caterpillar (the tenth biggest U.S. investor in the United Kingdom), says, “We are students of history. A major reason a very deep recession turned into the Great Depression was the fact that countries turned inward.” Ah, yes. The Buy American Act of 1933. How’d that work out?
Even without Speaker Pelosi talking STD on the evening news, there is danger here for the new administration. Setting aside the more messianic effusions (“We needed him. And out of that great need,” gushed Maya Angelou, “Barack Obama came.”) as unbecoming to the freeborn citizens of a constitutional republic, it seems clear that large numbers of people voted for this president because they wanted something different, something other than “politics as usual.” Not just something pseudo-different like the dreary maverickiness of John McCain “reaching across the aisle” (one of those dead phrases no one outside the Beltway gives a hoot about), but something really different. But the “stimulus” package is just politics as usual with a few extra zeroes on the end. Will you notice anything? No. Don’t get your hopes up. If you’re broke now, you’ll be broke in October. The Congressional Budget Office estimates only 25 percent of it will be spent by early next year. The other 75 percent is as stimulating as the gal in the Nancy Pelosi Pussycat Lounge telling you she had such a good time she’s penciled in a second date for spring 2010. A third of all the spending won’t come until after 2011.
In a media age, politics is a battle of language, and “stimulus” is too good a word to cede to porked-up statist hacks. “Stimulus” has to stimulate—i.e., it’s short-term, like, say, an immediate cut in payroll taxes that will put real actual money in your pocket in next month’s paycheck. That way, you don’t need to wait for ACORN: You can start “stabilizing” your own “neighborhood” right now.
Don't miss your chance to read the entire article. Sometimes wit and metaphor can draw out the utter insanity of an idea much more effectively than pure reason (just ask Rush Limbaugh). In Steyn's case, that's almost a money-back guarantee.