I am down to my last few days of pre-production here in Thailand. We officially start shooting āPrince and Me 4ā on Monday. It is now Friday afternoon here. The cast and crew are working their butts off and things are coming together. Iām going to have to make this column shorter than usual, but there are some things that I feel have to be said about this pending stimulus package and about President Obamaās declaration this week on executive pay.
Also, starting with this column, Iām going to add information sent by my readers so that we can get some other opinions and viewpoints as well. So, if I get e-mails or comments, I will attach them to the end of each column, and hopefully, I will be able to give a fair and unbiased sampling of the information received.
But, now let’s start with the stimulus bill. I have been listening to the President over the past few weeks from my hotel room in Thailand. The first comment I have is what happened to āhopeā. I still hear a lot about change, but the āhopeā apparently has become fear. The new President is using fear in promoting his stimulus package in the same way he said the Republicans used it over the last eight years. Every speech and bit I hear is loaded with, āif we donāt pass this stimulus package right now, catastrophe is right around the corner.ā
Isnāt this the kind of rhetoric that the Democrats said got us into the Iraq war? Isnāt that what the Democrats have blamed President Bush and Dick Cheney with? Isnāt this what the press has blamed the entire Republican Party with? Even a noted Republican pundit stated that one of the reasons the Republicans got shellacked in November was because their entire message was based upon fear.
Now, I hear nothing but fear coming out of the Presidentās mouth. What happened to the pragmatism that he was so famous for? Now, in the last few days, I donāt see āhopeā any longer, I see anger and frustration. Heās almost behaving like a school boy who isnāt getting his way.
This stimulus bill and the cap on CEO earnings should not be passed or permitted to happen. Under its current state, it truly is socialism in disguise. In fact, the cap on corporate executive earnings announced a few days ago actually reeks of central planning. Dare I say that this is actually one step beyond socialism?
How can we as a free market economy allow this to happen? We canāt. Either we stick up for the free market now, or we give in to European style socialism for the next 10 to 20 years. We must fight this stimulus bill and do whatever is necessary to fight it. In the end something will be passed, but hopefully, it will be something that has a chance at working.
Do you think any top executives will want to work at any company that is accepting public money? The answer to that is a simple ānoā! The will go wherever the money is best. Further, the companies that may need the money the most may not take it. I know if I was the CEO of Citigroup or Bank of America, I would think twice before accepting any more public funding. I would start thinking about how to keep the company afloat without the money, and then we things got so bad that I realized the company had to take the money, I would start looking for another job. Call me a capitalist and decadent, but that is the way most of these guys think as well.
As for the stimulus bill itself, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states that only three percent of the money will be spent this year and another 13 percent of the money will be spent next year. I really would like to know what kind of stimulus this is. Out of 825 billion dollars, a mere 107 billion dollars will be spent in the new presidentās first two years in office. Is this the immediate need that the new Democratic fear mongers are trying to sell? Is this the pending ācatastropheā that Obama is talking about ad nauseam?
At least when President Bush passed the TARP act, half of the money was spent in the first three months before he left office and the remaining half is being spent right now. Thatās action. If we are going to burden our children with decades of debt because of failed Keynesian policies, let us at least spend the money quickly. What good will an 825 billion dollar stimulus package be that is only spent piecemeal?
Another problem I have with this stimulus package is the protectionism inherent in it. What is this requirement that public works projects using stimulus money use American made steel, iron and manufactured goods? This is protectionism at its worst. If this is allowed to pass, we are taking one more step away from a free market and into socialism. Further, this clause will alienate most of our trading partners. Canada and Mexico are already up in arms about it. I canāt wait until the Japanese really start complaining. And, what about Germany, Italy and Spain? Oh, I forgot, this might piss China off a little too.
Protectionism did not work during the Great Depression. In fact, many argue it made the depression deeper and longer. But, in the words of Ronald Reagan, āhere they go again!ā
To continue, what is this provision that allows $200 million dollars to be spent on planting grass in Washington? This is an earmark of the worst order. When listening to the president this morning his comments regarding earmarks had a defeatist attitude. He simply said, āWhen has Congress passed anything that isnāt loaded with pork?ā So, now one of his campaign promises about eliminating earmarks has gone by the wayside. Or, is it that he is just receiving a true education on how Washington works?
Since Iām running out of time, I just want to make one more comment about this pork laden, socialistic stimulus bill. I could go on for hours if I had the time. But, for now, I just want to state that is 335 million dollars for handing out ācondomsā and STD prevention programs going to create any jobs or stimulate anything more than somebodyās libido?
Now, for some comments from my readers, Billy Dean Bennett of Missouri sent me some interesting statistics on the effects of the Australian Gun ban. After one year in effect, homicides were up 6.2%, assaults were up 9.6%, armed robberies were up 44% and in the state of Victoria alone, armed robberies were up 300%. All of this after the government of Australian spent more than 500 million Australian dollars on taking the guns away. I guess the only people in Australia with guns now are the criminals.
Maybe, the ACLU and other liberal think tanks should look at these statistics. Or, maybe, they will just choose to ignore them. I think this is pure proof that eliminating guns does nothing to eliminate street crime.
David Allen Jones of Bangkok, Thailand sent me an interesting article by Mickey Edwards entitled āReagan Wouldnāt Recognize this GOP.ā This article was written for the LA Times and can be found at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-edwards24-2009jan24,0,3344794.story. I think all Republicans should read this article as it states some of the basic problems with todayās Republican Party. Although, I agree with a lot of it, I do not agree with it all.
Thank you for your time again this week. I will try to write more columns while shooting the film, but only if time permits.
Ā© Copyright 2009 by Frank T. DeMartini. Permission to use excerpts will be freely given.