Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cost-Free Money Courtesy of Obama

Yesterday I spoke with an otherwise intelligent friend of mine about the so-called "Economic Stimulus" bill currently passing through the US Congress with the support and praise of President Obama.

My friend said that when the Federal government needs more money they can always print more of it. Even if it means printing $1,000,000,000,000 (that's $1 trillion give or take).

I said, "But printing more money devalues the dollar, makes it worth less and fuels inflation."

"Not necessarily," my friend replied. "Obama has a plan . . . he has it all figured out."

I replied, "The only way that Obama could do this is if he either has a direct connection to God or has a wizard in his back pocket who can work magic."

My friend effectively ended the conversation with this reply, "Obama can do it. He will make it work. Just wait and see."

I can remember when Reagan's tax cuts were called "Voodoo Economics." But there was at least some measure of economic theory to support it. As a bonus, it worked well enough for the Bush administration to feel confident to try it again . . . albeit with mixed results. But at least there was some sense to the plan that was able to generate some reasonable debate.

The present economic "package" rolling through the Congress has little if any economic theory to support it. Even those economists who said the national economy needed a large infusion of government infusion of capital investment have now said that the about-to-be-enacted bill is a sham, putting virtually all of the money in the wrong places and at the wrong time (80% of it to be spent in 2010 and later) to be of any help to the current economy.

With my friend I witnessed an almost religious-like faith in our new President to perform miracles. Our Senators and Representatives in Congress know better, of course. But they are hoping that we don't. So far it looks like they are getting away with it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Inauguration a Good Start to His Presidency

I thought that yesterday's inauguration ceremonies went wonderfully. I appreciated the opening prayer by Pastor Warren and the closing, celebratory prayer by the honorable Pastor Lowery. The music was beautiful and the Chief Justice's muff added a human touch to the oath of office. I felt that President Obama's speech was strong and projected America's strength and resolve to both our enemies and friends overseas. His words to the American people were filled with the usual themes of optimism and hope that we have come to associate with him yet tempered by the reminder that government cannot do it all; that personal responsibility is central to our happiness and success as both individuals and as a nation. The urge for unity was only slightly off-set by a few political jabs at the policies of the Bush administration but that was not inappropriate in light of the fact that Obama was, in part, elected by folks who also rejected some or many of those policies and desired a change from them.

I thought that the Obama's took the time and courtesy to escort the former President and First Lady to the helicoptor and waved to them as they left was a remarkable act of grace . . . one that I hope will become a inaugural tradition in the years to come.

There were, of course, the scattered boos for President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Although inappropriate and disrespectful we are a free country where even boors are given the prividege and freedom to display their boorishness.

I honestly did not expect the Obamas to get out of their car and walk down Pennsylvania Avenue at all (because of the high security risk that it entailed) but I was glad they did. I particularly enjoyed them holding hands . . . and when Michelle would let go of Barak's hand to wave with her right hand she would cross her left hand in front of her and grab hold of his hand with a sweet awkwardness that I found almost touching.

I believe that Barak Obama did not expect to win the nomination or the presidency in this election. I do not think that he believed he was actually ready for it at this time. I think that there was even a bit of a panic when he realized that it might actually happen. These past few months have given him time to absorb this fact and to come to terms with the reality of actually bearing the responsibility of becoming the Commander In Chief and protector and defender of the Constitution.

I believe that President Obama is still a work in progress; one whose circle of friends and advisors has been woefully short of national and international leadership experience. I believe that he has done well by continuing several of the Bush administration's appointees insofar as this will buy him some time to get up to speed in these areas where he is weakest (international and defense) while focusing his own appointees in the areas related to domestic and economic policy.

I have a strong intuitive sense that, underneath all the political tap-dancing and the substance-lite rhetoric that brought him the nomination and subsequent election, Barak Obama is a man of deep and profound character. I have every reason to believe that he will be a good President for all of us. I will undoubtedly disagree with him on many, many issues but I have every reason to believe that, in spite of our profound differences, I will find good reason to respect him as a good and honest man.

May God bless President Obama. May God bless America. And, through America, may God find many, many opportunities to bless the world.