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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


April 18, 2011

The “Millionaires Paradox” Speech

Steven R. Berryman

The President of the United States of America was 20 minutes late to his after lunch speech at prestigious George Washington University last Wednesday. His audience, many of them sons and daughters of New York City millionaires, got to hear their parents very publicly disrespected.

 

Ironically, these millionaire business owners and investors are the good guys in job creation!

 

President Barack Obama was right on top of his game, though, in the mechanics of the speech delivery; his best ever to-date. For the first time ever, I was proud that this smart man was my president; however, the feeling quickly wore off upon examination of the content, and minus the glow of the drama.

 

Looking at the timing, it became clear that this was the first political speech of the freshly announced presidential campaign by our incumbent. If not for the Libya and Middle-East diplomacy fiascos, the failure to significantly impact jobs and unemployment in a more substantial way, the inability to stop spending in our losing wars, and that Guantanamo Bay prison thing, this would be his campaign to lose.

 

Fully the first half of the strangely-timed speech was liberal doctrinism coupled with attempted shame-on-you moments aimed at Republicans.

 

Obamacare reminders of “killing Granny,” and visions of “death panels” were brought back to life as a preamble; one statistical claim of his budget reduction plan was the pulling of a half-trillion dollars out of our social medicine safety net programs.

 

No mention of how this one would work, though. Will this be accomplished by computerizing healthcare records… or by reductions in medical procedures for the elderly, where the cost-benefit analysis eventually fails them exactly when they need it most? He didn’t say.

 

But this administration’s forced response to real cuts by a Tea Party-influenced Republican Party budget plan lacked footnotes and was couched on dollar amounts impossible to comprehend, for periods of time impossible to predict, and are predicated on a constant 5% growth in our national “gross domestic product.”

 

In an attempt at some understanding of scale, one trillion dollars in cash, in $100 bills, weighs 65,005 tons. Predicting economic growth accurately over 10 years with our cloudy crystal ball has similar odds to calling all of the games in the NCAA Basketball Tournament correctly!

 

In the second half of the speech, some detail and more large numbers came out.

 

Millionaires equal bad, corporations making profit equals bad, and “I don’t even want to talk about wealth transfer to minorities through entitlement programs designed to maintain a permanent Democratic voting underclass.” Well…in fairness, he didn’t exactly say it like that.

 

But the speech failed in terms of what was not said, as much as anything:

 

·        Social Security – Left out. That seems like it’s going to be the issue that will be kicked down the road!

 

·        Energy policy – Left out. If we could posit answers to some of our long-term debt with some more internal prosperity, by drilling for oil for instance, why no brag here?

 

·        Waste/Fraud/Abuse in banking, the Fed, and Wall Street – Left out.

 

·        Addressing balance of trade deficit and monetary policy – Left out.

 

·        Carbon credits, Green jobs – Left out. (And other political-economic “devices” do so well for our economy in other speeches!)

 

·        Partnering with the state governments to reduce duplication of programs and services? Again, left out, as what we really missed on Wednesday was any semblance of “out of the box” thinking on deficit reduction.

 

We got the party line and that old saw about those bad defense contractors. Sure, we could improve procurement and streamline for “that new mission,” but what’s the difference between a “make-work job” in NASA, the EPA, Planned Parenthood, or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and one for national defense or building roads and bridges?

 

The speech was – taken in a global context – a magnificent ode to the “nanny state” concept, a tribute to Uncle Sam’s responsibility to take care of everyone and everything, and, to top it off, you are held harmless in all of this.

 

Makes one harken back to the days when “congressional oversight” really was; when federal income taxes averaged one percent of personal income.

 

President Obama could have said: “Use both the scalpel and the machete” in cutting government size and waste; he especially could have used that machete on the politics end of strategy in his speech.

 

I predict that in today’s return of the “Tax Day Tea Party” to Maryland, falling on the actual federal deadline, we will hear some better solutions to American ills, as represented by tragic debt.

 

Today, Monday April 18th, from 3 to 6 P.M. at the Band Shell in Baker Park in Frederick (MD), there will be an open microphone for non-partisan thoughts on all of this. The event will be broadcast live on 930WFMD-AM. It will also be available on the Internet at www.wfmd.com (hit the ListenLive button).

 

Expect plenty of room for you, as there will be fewer millionaires present than last year!

 

srbmgr@gmail.com

 

[Also see last weeks related column: RetrO-bama Econometrics ]

 



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