Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back in the USSA

The Patriot recently returned from a short vacation to Italy and has been having some trouble readjusting to the American lifestyle. Some of this may be related to lingering jet lag, but I suspect a good deal is malaise at returning to a country that seems so small minded and paranoid compared to its European neighbors. Returning to US soil through Immigration and Customs was a humiliating experience; poorly educated bureaucrats drunk with their own power, screaming at people for talking on cell phones and deigning to ask impertinent questions about what line to stand in while waiting to be evaluated for the rubber glove treatment. So it goes. We may have gotten rid of Bush, but his legacy lives on in the police state that he created and which Obama shows little interest in dismantling.

I’m not holding out Italy as some sort of paradise. Far from it. But what Italy, and the rest of “old Europe” have going for it is a lifestyle outlook that eschews consumerism in favor of simple pleasures like friends, good food, and an appreciation of leisure. Before you all write in to flame me, I am aware that Europe has issues with rigid class structures and an appalling record on dealing with immigrants. Nevertheless, the small cars, small apartments, rigidly enforced recycling program and focus on living life rather than buying crap you don’t need is something American’s should pay attention to. For better or worse we’re all going to have to start living small.

I watched Obama’s speech last night and I was not at all impressed. After a few minutes, I felt as if I was hearing the campaign rhetoric repackaged and rebranded for a slightly different audience. The speech was long on style and short on substance. With the stock market still in freefall and the "details" of our economic salvation yet to be revealed, this administration can hardly be said to have taken the bull by the horns-despite the lofty rhetoric.

Many of the ideals espoused by our Dear Leader lacked a basis in anything approaching objective reality. Obama sternly lectured that corporate executives will not be allowed to profit form the financial bailout-and yet refused to push for any strings to be attached to the money. He stated that bold action was necessary to save the country from the economic crisis and yet was short on specifics. I have a few ideas. How about bold actions like FBI forensic accountants pouring over the books of bad banks looking for fraud. How about bold action to claw back the bonuses paid to executives from the last round of TARP money? None of this is in the stimulus plan he was crowing about last night.

I see no evidence that Obama's plan to fix the banks does what the American people are demanding-hold those who gambled with the public's money accountable-or what the economy requires. His plan seems to be little more than a continuation of the philosophy of the Bush years.

While our president speaks of “necessary sacrifice”, the centerpiece of the economic recovery plan is apparently more lending and more debt. Oh, and printing more money to pay for everything. Am I alone in finding this approach to be, well, insane? Wasn’t it the accumulation of debt and laxity in lending that started us down the rabbit hole?

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