Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ill-timed bloodthirstiness on the right

By Rick Morris

After years and years of rolling over for George W. Bush's Big Gubmint Conservatism, many on the right are now choosing to "draw a line in the sand on principle" as efforts are being made to keep the global capitalist system from collapsing.

Regardless of what one may think of the dinosaur executives at the Big Three auto companies and the union executive kleptocrats who are bleeding them dry (check out the country club/golf complex operated for the benefit of these "working men and women"), the reality is that the auto industry and the UAW have a great many hostages in the form of associates businesses who are dependent on the contracts that they have with them to stay in business. So many other innocent people working at other companies would be put out of work, as well as the companies themselves. And in this country, we don't shoot hostages, regardless of the gut-level bile that so many opinion leaders on the right like "The Biz" and Michelle Malkin have allowed to control their thinking.

In the face of completely unacceptable alternatives, the Bush Administration was right to fashion a Big Three loan package (ah, who are we kidding, it's a bailout!) out of the TARP money when Congress was unable to act. This action, much like the TARP mechanism itself, was necessary in the face of a global financial meltdown the likes of which we have never seen before and hopefully will never see again.

Somehow, many conservatives/Republicans have decided that the way to address the GOP's complete lack of credibility on federal spending after the Bush years is to oppose, full-throated, any efforts to ever spend again on anything, regardless of the reasons involved. Now, I'm as big of a fiscal hawk as anybody and I was screaming my head off about Bush and the Republican Congress when so many of these folks were oohing and ahhing about how well Dubya filled out a flight suit. So I'm going to preemptively put aside any notion of me being a squish when I urge caution on how to proceed politically in these highly uncertain times.

I might add also that I have more reasons to approach this from a purely emotional point of view than the aforementioned right-wing opinion leaders. I bowled years ago as a ringer in a Ford plant league in Greater Cleveland and saw up close an attitude of permanent entitlement from a great many. That was stomach-turning for a struggling young college grad like me at the time to witness. Additionally, I saw instances of no-show jobs that would put La Cosa Nostra to shame. So when I read Michael Moore's mindless drivel about how those who want to deny the UAW everything they want on a bailout wish list would like to grind up working men and turn them into oatmeal, yeah, it angers me -- but it doesn't form my public policy opinions!

Once upon a time, all economic naivete resided on the hard left. The following thought, albeit expressed in more eloquent terms, is at the root of every left-wing term paper written since the 1960s: "Man, if the government and the evil rich Republicans would just give more money to people, we'd all be better off, man! They've got it, but they won't give it to you because they want to see you suffer, man! Just like the rich greedy oil companies and the conspiracy against hemp ..."

What I want to know is: when did so many on the right adopt a mirror image of that thought process? When did it become okay to collapse the global economy just so that some UAW workers would suffer? Ann Coulter has retold an old story about the Russian who learns that he has one day left to live and resolves to burn down his neighbor's house. That's the kind of emotion-over-thought reasoning that has always defined left-wing economics. If the right is ever to regain any credibility in this country, it's got to resist the impulse to let hatred of annoying interest groups interfere with putting together a rational thought process as far as how to properly administer economic policy.

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