The economy makes my head hurt

Terry Garlock's picture

Many years ago I earned an A in my college macro-economics course, thereby proving the hypothesis there is no relation whatever between a report card and mastery of a subject. I still remember how much my head hurt every time I took a seat in that classroom and when I studied hard for exams. An economist I am not.

Nevertheless, I do have some observations on the recession. My view is not optimistic, so you may want to skip it if you prefer to keep your upbeat holiday mood.

We are now paying the price, I believe, for an uneducated and apathetic public, products of a dumbed-down, politically correct education system. That is no shot at teachers; we pay them far too little and strangle them with requirements that tie their hands, but that’s another column.

The damning evidence is a news media, and masses who watch and vote, that exhibit negligible appreciation for limited government, private property rights and personal profit motive that are the building blocks of the American capitalist system.

Some months ago a reporter stopped people on the street to ask their views on recent actions in Washington, D.C., and whether they worried about socialism. Predictably, some answered, “Well, what’s so bad about socialism?” Surely government programs to take care of us must be a good thing.

Of course the problem is, government doesn’t produce anything, it just takes our money and decides who should receive it.

If you have not yet learned what makes people tick, you might succumb to the notion that Karl Marx’s premise, “From each, according to their ability, to each according to their need,” is a virtuous way to spread the wealth because it seems so “fair.”

But if you study economic principles and pay any attention at all to human nature, you will know that collectivism doesn’t work and doesn’t create any wealth to spread.

The most stark example is Mao’s Great Leap Forward in China, a program started in 1958 in China to move the population to huge collective farms where their motivation was to be the good of the collective and the nation. Hard work evaporated along with the motive of personal gain, crops failed and tens of millions died of starvation.

Winston Churchill said, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money!” Someone more clever than I observed that socialism is like people in a circle, picking one another’s pockets.

By contrast, the profit motive of capitalism built the greatest economic engine the world has ever seen, right here in America. And yet today, politicians who make decisions for us spit out the word “profit” as if it were an epithet. Our children watching the news are likely to believe “corporation” is a form of evil.

The congressional do-gooders you should fear most have shifted their malevolent aim over time from tobacco companies to pharmaceutical companies to healthcare insurance companies and the list goes on.

Perhaps we should require that every candidate for public office must have owned a business and met a payroll every two weeks, so they would be more attuned to the fact that government is a burden and that the very corporations they spit about create the jobs that make our family life and prosperity possible.

All of that is background for this observation.

I think the experts and reporters and prognosticators are missing something vital about the recession, especially when they chatter about recovery. I don’t think recovery is going anywhere soon and here’s why.

Our country is somewhat evenly divided between left and right. The left is heavily weighted with people who want the government to take care of them, and the right is heavily weighted with people who want limited government to leave them alone so they can live their life.

On both sides, many dream of starting new business efforts that create jobs as a by-product of their seeking to make a profit, hopefully an obscenely large profit!

But what happened in 2008 when Obama took the lead in the Democratic primary? Millions of people on the right, including me, and surely some even on the left, became very worried about the anti-business environment he would bring to the presidency, and as the election neared, there was an increasing caution and fear. That caution and fear redoubled when we shook our heads in disbelief that so many of you voted for him.

Businesses postponed hiring and expansion. Families postponed purchases and curtailed spending, deciding to “wait and see” before buying that new car, making the old washing machine last another year, staying home instead of taking the pricey vacation, eating out less, worry building about the future.

Of caution in the business sector, and of such individual family decisions made by tens of millions, recessions are made.

The election is more than a year gone, and what has been our experience? Gargantuan bailouts, borrowing in the trillions, a barrage of anti-business rhetoric, plans to let taxes increase in a year as the Bush tax cuts expire, likely re-instatement of the estate (death) tax, trying to push through a healthcare bill that penalizes businesses and transfers control of one-sixth of the economy to our incompetent government, spending hundreds of billions in borrowed stimulus money in politically-motivated ways, government borrowing from your neighbors to give you a rebate for buying a car in September instead of October, and so on.

The government-controlled minimum wage was increased, and so businesses cut entry-level jobs. At least the Obama administration is consistent; every move they make, it seems, is something my hurting head remembers economists saying governments should not do.

Competent businesses have already set their 2010 budgets. How many would you guess include more job cuts rather than expansion and creating new jobs? When will the profit motive overtake caution and fear? I expect more cuts.

Businesses will prosper and create jobs when government takes a little weight off their back, when they can rest easy that more taxes and regulation are not just around the corner, when we consumers have enough optimism to loosen the purse strings to buy the new car and washing machine, enjoy the pricey vacation.

So when do you plan to start spending? If you are like me, you’re still in the wait and see mode, along with tens of millions on the left as well as the right, in a defense mode, waiting to see. When will pessimism give way to the optimism that kick-starts our economic engine?

My head-hurting non-economist answer is this – optimism will return when we replace the socialist crowd currently in control. Unfortunately, I think we have years more in the tank.

I hope to be proven wrong.

[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City. His email is]

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Locke's picture
Submitted by Locke on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 8:42am.

Bush presided over the weakest economic growth since the great depression, the takeover of Freddie and Fannie, massive bailouts of the banking and financial industry and the slowest job growth since the figures have been recorded. When the administration left office, real personal disposable income during their term in office was negative for the first time in history, houses had lost 23% of their value, unemployment was at a 24 year high, 276 out of 380 metropolitan areas and 30 states were in recession, US GDP had shrunk, unemployment claims were at a 16 year high, consumer spending was shrinking by 3.1%, the worst since 1969, the stock market had lost 20% of its value from where it was when the administration took office, new housing starts had fallen to the lowest since 1959, and the National Bureau of Economic Research had confirmed that the US had been in a recession since late 2007.

And people didn't go on vacation or buy a new washing machine because of the specter of Obama winning the nomination?

That logic makes my head hurt.

Submitted by tgarlock on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 12:32pm.

For others who have asked, no, Cal didn't tell me to write the above column. I don't work for the paper and if I did I doubt seriously Cal would try to tell me what to write. He repairs my errors and runs my columns the way I write them when he has room, and for that I thank him and The Citizen.

Now, before you libs blow a gasket, I confess maybe an even better title for this column might have been "Bush was bad enough!" I pulled my hair out when Bush tried to garner support from the left by pushing through the prescription drug entitlement I bet you guys love so much, just part of egregious spending by Bush and congress. Bush drove me nuts with his pandering to Latinos by refusing to secure our borders - with lethal force if he asked my advice. I couldn't believe he rolled over on the auto industry bailout that paved the way for Obama to appoint himself the auto-designer-in-chief. If only Bush could hear me talking to the TV maybe he wouldn't have rattled the sword to Sadaam for over a year, since surprise is the chief weapon of war, he wouldn't have pulled the trigger at all on the war in 2003 if he were listening to me, and after pulling the trigger he would have TAKEN oil from the Iraqi oil fields until the cost of our intervention was repaid, no matter how much the left screamed foul. But Bush couldn't hear me through the TV and doubtless would not have listened anyway. (Once he pulled the trigger I was a cheerleader for our troops in Iraq because that's the way it should be).

The Bush-hatred on the left became completely irrational, though there were a number of real reasons to take him to the woodshed, and I'm sure you guys think the same of my thoughts on Obama. Just to be clear, from the looking glass of a conservative I would regard Bush to be an ugly car wreck, I consider Obama to be a train wreck turning into a catastrophe for America.

The real message of the column is that the entrepreneurial risk-taking and consumer confidence necessary to pull us out of recession and return unemployment to the normal 5-6% level is not likely to happen so long as Mr. train wreck is in office.

Now bash on, anonymously if you feel compelled to throw rocks from behind bushes.

Terry Garlock

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 8:02pm.

This comment of yours is similar to saying, "yeah, Herod (and his crew) was not an ideal King, but just look a this dude Caesar!"

They were horrid especially as a group and we will be paying for it for at least 10-20 years.

Obama nor anyone else can expect to lead us out of such a mess without suffering stones also.

Liberalism and conservatism is not the fight here, the lack of principle and personal integrity is!

You had all that at one time, obviously, and thank you, you need to continue what you had.

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 4:13pm.

The only bashing I can do has nothing to do with your political views, although I agree with most of them, I by no means agree with all of them. My problem with you and several of the posters on here is your self-righteous attitude that unless you sign your real name, your opinion either doesn't count, or counts less because we use a pen name, as it were. There have been a few people on here that have been hurt because they used their real name, one a veteran and serving reserve Air Force guy. Well, I met this person in real life, and while I disagree with most of his views, I wouldn't retaliate the way some people who did who couldn't stomach his views. Need I tell you about PHD on here who lost a job because of a disgruntled "super conservative" on here. There's lots of reasons people on here use a pen name, mostly because of their families, not their lack of courage, as you seem to think. I believe most people that use their real names on here do it because of their ego's, not their cowardice. I know one Grandma type, real name and all, who uses a pen name, because she is politically active, and doesn't need the repercussions she could be hit with because she acts on her convictions.'

Moving right along, I guess I'll finish with this, my kid is old enough to handle herself, in fact verbally, I think she is ahead of most the posters on this site, she can take care of herself. For the less restrained among us, I will remind that I am not above head hunting, if the need is called for. To lend a sense of legitimacy to this post, I will submit my real name...RANDY CLOKEY... it's in the book. To put a point on it, real name or not, it's the opinion that counts, not the name behind it. You can take this anyway you want the long run, who really cares.

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Submitted by tgarlock on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 5:51pm.

I do realize you have a point about using a pen name to avoid nut jobs. My issue is not needing to know who you are, my issue is how anonymity changes the behavior of some people, and I'm not talking about you. Some take constant cheap shots, amuse themselves by ridiculing or belittling others, and generally conduct themselves in writing in ways that would fail to meet the most minimal conduct standards, sometimes lowering the level of discourse on these blogs towards the gutter. One would hope that is not the way adults in our community conduct themselves, except some do when their identity is masked. I guess the way I think is that if I feared public comments would make me or my family unsafe, I shouldn't make public comments at all instead of hiding my identity. That's just me. I'll get off my soapbox, I guess I take my own cheap shots on this subject and should be above that.

Terry Garlock

Locke's picture
Submitted by Locke on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 9:03pm.


Submitted by AtHomeGym on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 5:12pm.

Never cared about real names and thile I don't know Terry personally, he and I share a lot of experiences and I don't think he meant some of what he said about using real names or otherwise. Regardless Hutch, I connected with you initially because I know you, like me,are a vet and I figured out what the Hutch 866 was. No TinCan didn't have anything to do with it! But I usually agree with your views and comments and I don't really care if your name is Randall or Hutch. Some folks just can't get around that deal and maybe Terry just had a bad day or something, but I don't think for a minute that he really believes it's a big deal to use a "Forum Name) instead of your real name. BTW, SLindsey and Cyclist know my real name because we have exchanged email.

TinCan's picture
Submitted by TinCan on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 7:37pm.

I assume the tincan you referred to is me. Trying to figure out how I figured into this identity conversation? I don't recall anything I ever posted that may have identified Hutch, and if I ever did, sorry Hutch. It definitely was never my intent.

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Thu, 11/26/2009 - 7:49am.

You never said anything that led me to identifying Hutch and I said so. Only reason I used your screen name was because you are both Navy vets, pure and simple.

TinCan's picture
Submitted by TinCan on Thu, 11/26/2009 - 10:41am.

The reason I asked is that a long time ago, (in blogging years), Hutch and I had some conversations on here that could have led in a round about way to a source of his identity. Didn't think I gave anything away then and thought you may have connected the dots. Took your original post to mean I didn't "directly" inform you. Guess I read too much into that post. Just simple.

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 5:11pm.

Never cared about real names and thile I don't know Terry personally, he and I share a lot of experiences and I don't think he meant some of what he said about using real names or otherwise. Regardless Hutch, I connected with you initially because I know you, like me,are a vet and I figured out what the Hutch 866 was. No TinCan didn't have anything to do with it! But I usually agree with your views and comments and I don't really care if your name is Randall or Hutch. Some folks just can't get around that deal and maybe Terry just had a bad day or something, but I don't think for a minute that he really believes it's a big deal to use a "Forum Name) instead of your real name. BTW, SLindsey and Cyclist know my real name because we have exchanged email.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 9:00am.

The economics behind this isn't a partisan issue. And to throw stones at Bush is a silly argument to me. Both Presidents, Bush and his successor Obama, are making bad economic policy. And the US economy over the past thirty to forty years has been built on a foundation of sand. We have becomes a mjor debtor country. Our account balances are horrible. Our trade policies have been disastorous. We have been on a quest to provide cheap goods and we have eroded the underpinnings of our economy. I am tired of the tit for tat, republican/Democrat issue. There was very little difference between McCain and Obama at their heart-they are big central governmentists. How stunning to think that we have evolved politically to think that health insurance, retirement, and the federal jurisdiction of a local fruit stand could be held up as an example of constituional government.

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 8:41pm.

May I speak, sir?
If fruit stands weren't regulated at all, we would all be buying e-coli at half of them! At least a lot of BS!

Cheap goods doesn't come from non-regulation, but from competition (honest) that is. We have had little honest competition lately.

Thank you, sir, for my permission to provide input. I will do 50 push-ups as penance.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 10:57pm.

I will reply with this. you sir, are a mess hall donut--a three dimensional zero with little taste.

birdman's picture
Submitted by birdman on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 8:54am.

And Cheney is chastising Obama for his handling of Afghanistan. Like he did such a good job. Gee, if they had finished Bin Laden off in Tora Bora when they had him instead of pulling troops out to invade Iraq then we may not have doubled the deficit and lost thousands of lives. But I suppose that's Obama's fault too. Gee, funny how the Republican's found their fiscal center after spending us into oblivion.

S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 2:42pm.

No matter how badly the Republicans and I might add the Democrats, who by the way controlled the purse/budget the last 3 years screwed things up for this Country.

It does not give a license to the Dems and Obama to continue the folly.

Doubling, Tripling and even Quadrupling the National Debt is WRONG... No matter how you spin it.. No matter who you wish to blame.. it is still WRONG.. and our kids and grand kids are going to pay the price. And don’t kid yourself that price is going to be high..

They are going to know the word Sacrifice.

Our Grandparents are known as the "Greatest" generation for a reason. They knew what sacrifice meant.. They knew they had to do with less so that their kids could have it better and as an extension us.

What are we going to be known as in 15-20+ years? We are loading them up with debt for a feel good party now..

Bird you and the other Obamanites can praise him and this all you want.. Shift the blame.. claim we didn’t speak out against Bush if it eases your conscience. It is just another feel good ploy to make what this administration is doing to our Country ok in your view..

Don’t get used to though.. 2010 will shake a few things up.. There is a shifting of priorities coming to this Country..

""The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." " Thomas Jefferson

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 3:18pm.

....from all our differences about Republicans and Democrats, Plunketts or Haddix's, pit bulls or cocker spaniels, or whatever the blog of the day happens to be and just be content to enjoy the upcoming holiday? It's been fun, so enjoy those with whom you have the opportunity.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

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