Friday, November 14, 2008

Conservatism is Just

When I allow myself to contemplate what "The O’Bama Effect" might produce on an economy currently in turmoil of historic proportions it feels like that moment of recognition in a bad dream when an unmistakable sense of tragedy crystalizes and you learn who has died.

Then I laugh emptily, recognizing once again that I am awake and this is no bad dream. This is reality. Now, I admit that there is always room for hope. I consider myself generally to be an "optimist", but these prospects challenge the most optimistic among us not to re-label ourselves "realists", and let the feelings of foreboding settle in.

Liberals would have you believe that the current economic mess is attributable to the Republicans. Yes, our economic woes surfaced during the latter years of the second Bush administration, but placing blame on the Republicans for this reason is overly simplistic and largely wrong.

Why? Because we know that the housing market collapse, which led to the credit crisis, which is currently causing a variety of other related economic problems, was due originally and most notably to the subprime borrowing fiasco, which I believe had its origins in Democratic hands.
I think this is another example, among many historical examples, of Liberal economic policy which may have been well intended, and sounded good to much of the public at the time, but was fatally flawed and was destined for failure.

Who would have deigned to criticize policies which supported loan programs to make the "American Dream" of home ownership possible for more Americans. Why not support a program which aims to help less fortunate people into a home that they can proudly occupy and own? You wouldn’t have foreseen any cost to you. I personally wasn’t aware of this legislation at the time, but admit that had I been aware of the legislation, without information about the specific risks inherent in these programs - (lending money to people with incomes and credit that would not have qualified them for loans under then existing loan standards), making home ownership possible for more Americans naturally would have sounded like a good thing.

I admit to not knowing every last detail about the legislation which enabled and promoted the sub-prime loan circumstance. Perhaps there was some bi-partisan support for an idea that on its face would have sounded so positive. But blaming Republicans and punishing Republicans, and by direct extension our country, by electing a candidate with a notoriously liberal voting record who promises economic betterment via economic redistribution, is an unfortunate, and mistaken response. In political elections, as with many of life’s choices, it is emotion, often based on unclear and incomplete information that swings the pendulum, prevailing over careful judgement.

Several polls leading up to the election indicated that it had become essentially a one issue race. The decision was principally about the economy when votes were cast. Because John McCain is a Republican, he conveniently was branded by the O’Bama campaign, quite successfully, together with the mainstream media, as a near mirror image of George Bush, in terms of economic policy and otherwise.

Although John McCain’s economic proposals were not identical to George Bush’s, and more importantly, although George Bush, think what you will about him, in fairness, bears little if any responsibility for our economic woes, enough people bought the "Bush was President at the time the housing and credit markets began to implode, so he must be responsible, and McCain is just like Bush," rhetoric.

So now when our economy and the world most needs the benefit of conservative economic policy in the United States, to encourage the markets back towards stability and growth, ironically, perhaps tragically, we will receive the liberal’s perceived antidote to the economic calamity. We will see higher taxes on many of the most productive economic participants - (which will likely come to apply also to earners of less than $250,000), liberal, redistributive policies that at least in the intermediate and longer-term, history has shown us will be of advantage to noone, at any level of society. This seems like fuel tossed on an already blazing fire.

When predictably you’re given the explanation that our government intends to increase your taxes additionally, and you consider that this money may support social programs for the potential benefit of less fortunate citizens, remember how compelling the idea perhaps sounded, if you heard it at the time the related legislation was passed, (rather than more recently, in the throes of our economic meltdown), for the government to help make possible the realization of the "American Dream" of home ownership for more Americans.

By Christopher "Hollywood" Cochran

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Those that are fooled

The election of the first African American to the highest office in our land is a powerful symbol of the strength of our democracy and a reassuring indicator that we have come an enormous distance in race relations.
Doubtless, Obama's election serves as a source of great pride to African Americans and a powerful example of the unlimited possibilities which apply to all people in our society.
We should all be proud that our country has made enormous strides toward overcoming racial bigotry. But it does not necessarily follow that we must like the prospects of an Obama administration.
To the true conservatives of our country, myself certainly included, while appreciating the great symbolic value of this historic first, our concerns in respect to the Obama administration remain, despite recognition of the social, emotional and perhaps even spiritual significance of his election.
I won't claim to be such a tough guy so as not to have been affected myself by the sight on the first African American President-elect delivering his victory speech. However, these sentiments were for me quickly replaced by a reality check that went something like this...
"Wait a minute, who really is this guy? His physical presence in this context has great symbolic value, but what does he stand for? The only things I am certain of regarding his politics and experience is that he has a notoriously liberal voting record and that his experience serving in an executive capacity, (the President is the chief executive of our country, after all!), is non-existent.
And what about the list of radical associates? Despite the shallow dig on the part of the media to unearth the details of these connections, enough surfaced to evidence that these associations were more than casual. Certainly this is most obviously true in the case of Rev Wright, who was Obama's pastor for 20 years! So I am left hoping that he chose these associates for his political gain when he was angling his way on the local, Chicago political scene. That's the least concerning explanation for his chosen associations, and it still reflects unflatteringly!
Yes, his victory speech was well written, and delivered with poise and eloquence. But so were the speeches that came before. In fact, the opinion that Obama is a gifted orator is so established as to have become essentially a consensus opinion some time ago. The concern that his powerful speaking ability represented style over substance is also an established, though partisan, opinion.
After the election was concluded and the results announced, I closed my eyes and thought for a moment, if I were really young and still full of idealism, could I have been persuaded by the Obama euphoria sweeping the Nation? I couldn't project my thinking back that far, because doing so would require me to erase so many life experiences, and the accumulation of knowledge stemming from these experiences.
None can handicap the future, yet we are programmed to try. I suppose the idealists who supported Obama with wholehearted enthusiasm, if they asked themselves the question, "Will negotiating with Iran without preconditions work and spare the world the fate of a nuclearized Iran, probably would have answered "yes." I hope they are right. I don't claim to see the future. But life has taught me that certain people and situations require a strong, direct approach. My sense is that this critical situation probably is not an exception.
On the economy, even as a more impressionable, younger adult, with the example of the Carter administration fresh in my mind, I would have been unable to believe any sustainable good could come of liberal economic policies, to any level of society, especially over the intermediate to long term, most especially when applied to existing weakness, such as we presently face. So I realized, as I tried to project my thinking and feelings back to younger adulthood, that I really just could not. The events of my life have manifest in my possession of conservative political opinions and ideals. No amount of working on myself could render me enthusiastic about the prospects of an Obama administration. Though as a lover of our Democracy, I recognize the enormous symbolic significance of his election.
There is a lot of Bush bashing, used as a means of defending enthusiasm for OBama. Everyone knows Bush is the lefts favorite whipping boy. But Bush is soon to be relegated to the history books. By this point I would think Bush bashing would have become passe even among liberals. Personally I respect him. But if you disagree, at least you can happily note the obvious - that he is no longer relevant.
So, if you are enthusiastic about an Obama administration, I hope in 4 or 8 years your enthusiasm will not have caused you disappointment. And if you are enthusiastic about Obama, not symbolically, but materially, (because of his stance on the issues, or what you suppose his stance may be), then you are attaching hope to liberal policy and executive inexperience.
But I sure hope you are right!

By Christopher "Hollywood" Cochran