It's been said so many times the economic problem is as much psychological as monetary that it must be true. Conveniently, we've just elected a president in part on the basis of how much he's inspired us and given us hope. Last night, in his biggest speech since the inauguration, President Obama sat Americans down and gave us a pep talk. And according to poll numbers, 92 percent of Americans reacted to it postively, with 68 percent reacting extremely positively. By all accounts, his unofficial State of the Union, in part a thorough explanation for the stimulus, promises to make dramatic shifts in policy regarding health care, the environment, and the tax structure, among other things.
Then came along Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the anti-Crist, with a speech titled "Americans Can Do Anything." It might well have been subtitled "The Federal Government Should Do Nothing." In a speaking voice I originally pegged as "a guy narrating a Christian children's puppet show" (appropriate, in hindsight, because a significant portion of the GOP is now basically a Christian children's puppet show), but apparently it's been settled he is indeed Kenneth the Page, he offered up a bunch of folksy ideology.
His main little anecdote involved a sheriff who bravely slashed through
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bureaucracy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to go out and try to save some
people. Goddamn you, bureaucracy. Why won't you just let the American people do anything?
before Katrina were supposed to get together every other weekend and
rebuild unfit levees too. I guess they're supposed to meet in a high
school gymnasium once a month to devise proper evacuation routes. I
guess Jindal would have rather had the American people figure out how
to drain an entire city with some ingenuity and good ol' American work
And yes, those actions were all failings of the federal
(and state and local) government, but we learned how dangerous it is
when government fails to act and prepare for the worst.
what did Jindal offer as an alternative? Nothing
substantive. No plan at all. Not even a suggestion that we meet once a
month in our local high school gymnasium to figure out how to get the
credit market flowing once again.