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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who's Responsible?

    We are most obviously in an economic mess right now with high unemployment, a huge national debt, no economic growth, and a housing crisis of unprecedented proportions.  Yet the current Obama administration seems to not want to take any responsibility for the situation and he himself as well as his supporters prefer to blame Bush.  I've heard so much from Obama and his supporters blaming George Bush for everything from high unemployment to genital herpes that I've wondered if any of our so called leaders is responsible for anything.  But then again, and to be objective, maybe they are correct.  So I have decided to attempt to figure out if we can or cannot determine who really is responsible.

    Now to be fair, it's kind of hard to blame Obama for everything.  After all, he did inherit from George W. Bush an economy that was wracked by a sub prime mortgage crisis, two wars, and a huge increase in our national debt.  But then again "W" inherited a rapidly declining economy and an uncertain international trading environment from Bill Clinton.  So maybe one could say that this is all Bill Clinton's fault.  But Clinton inherited a largely faltering economy from George H. W. Bush who was more concerned with world affairs than he was with domestic policies to the point that he even had to go back on his campaign promise of "no new taxes".

    However, it wouldn't be fair to blame H. W. since he inherited an economy from Ronald Reagan that saw our national debt grow from $1 trillion dollars to $3 trillion dollars during the course of his presidency and he also presided over the stock market crash of 1987.  But look what Reagan stepped into.  He was handed unprecedented high interest rates, high unemployment and such dismal economic conditions that Jimmy Carter himself referred to it as an " economic malaise".  Jimmy Carter had a tough road though since from Gerald Ford he started with record setting inflation rates and high unemployment.

    So you might think that this is all the fault of Gerald Ford until you think about what he inherited from none other than Richard Nixon.  Under Nixon we had wage and price controls, oil prices quadrupled, and that's besides all the criminal stuff that went on.  But Nixon can't be blamed based on what Lyndon Johnson did before him.  Johnson tried to establish the "Great Society" and in doing so surpassed FDR in helping himself to money that didn't belong to him.  He spent our money on such programs as the War on Poverty, the neighborhood Youth Corps, VISTA, food stamps, Head Start, the Model Cities Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, he expanded the use of Medicare and Medicaid funds, and on and on and on.  With apologies to sailors, he spent our money like a drunken sailor.

    With respect, I am passing over our 35th President, John F. Kennedy.  Unfortunately, he was not in office long enough before his assassination to make either a positive or negative impact on our long term economic failure or success.  So in essence, poor Johnson inherited the results of the Eisenhower Administration whose claim to fame is three recessions that ran from 1953-1954, 1957-1958, and 1960 before Kennedy was elected.  Gee there's an accomplishment.  Then again, Eisenhower wasn't exactly left a booming economy by Harry Truman.  Truman spent much of his presidency engaged with post WWII and later Korean War foreign affairs and was vehemently opposed by congress in his attempts to further FDR's "New Deal" policies with something he referred to as the "Fair Deal".  And it goes without saying that Truman had a tough time given that his predecessor, FDR, had presided over the largest expansion of government involvement in the free market economy ever and whose policies led to a deep recession prior to his death in office.

    Of course FDR probably didn't have too many choices since Herbert Hoover left him in the throes of the Great Depression but many think that it was the laissez faire approach by Calvin Coolidge toward big business that encouraged the over speculation that ultimately led to the beginning of the Great Depression.  Warren G. Harding didn't do Coolidge any favors though with the Tea Pot Dome and other scandals.  And Woodrow Wilson before him was the jerk that started the system of federal income taxes.

    Now before these guys was a series of presidents including William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and Grover Cleveland the first time who for years and years embroiled the country in one controversy after another concerning tariffs on foreign trade, battles between our agrarian culture and big business, inheritance taxes, progressive taxes, corporate taxes and all kinds of ways for the federal government to interfere in the economy.  Before them, Chester Arthur  vetoed a bill that would have restricted cheap "coolie" labor and even vetoed a safety and health bill that would have required minimum safety standards for incoming steamers carrying the aforementioned coolies.  Those were 25 or so very messy years.

    James Garfield didn't contribute much to our economic efforts since he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau and spent most of his six month presidency dying from the blood poisoning caused by the wound.  Before him, Rutherford B. Hayes presided over all kinds of general strikes including the "Great Railroad Strike" of 1887 and he refused to use troops to quell the domestic disturbances.

    All of which brings us to our 18th president Ulysses S. Grant.  In both the domestic and foreign realms, President Grant could claim a wide range of achievements. In the aftermath of the most serious fiscal problems the nation had ever faced, he pursued policies that stopped inflation, raised the nations credit, and reduced taxes and the national debt by over $300 million and $435 million respectively.   However his poor handling of the "Panic of 1873" led to a severe recession and basically wiped out any prior success.

    So there you have it.  It's not Obama.  It wasn't George Bush.  It was none other than this guy that started all this mess.   Everything was going good until he screwed things up.  That fat bastard.  I mean this asshole couldn't even give Lt. Colonel Custer half way decent military intelligence.  No wonder they gave him his own tomb in some remote location in the Bronx.  And now that I have clearly and indisputably demonstrated that the real culprit for today's economic crisis is in fact Ulysses S. Grant, and I'm sure we can all agree on that, maybe now we can stop focusing on who is responsible and instead focus on how to fix things.  Although I'd bet my next pay check that if you asked Ulysses about all this, he'd probably blame Andrew Johnson who was known as a drunken imbecile and a ludicrous bore.  Bastard.

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