Americans should contact their congressmen before it's too late about their instinctive concerns over efforts to convert the world's greatest engine of free market prosperity into a socialistic leviathan under the euphemistic cover of possibly successive rescue "stimulus" bills.
The stated rationale for the original Troubled Asset Relief Program "bailout" wasn't to stimulate the economy to get it moving again, but to toss it a liquidity life raft to loosen credit markets and keep it from drowning. That is, the idea was to prevent a catastrophe, not to empower little Napoleons in government to play God with the economy.
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's scare tactics -- heartfelt or not -- panicked the country into action, and TARP became a reality. Yet not much seemed to change. Politicians will always be able to say that if we hadn't implemented TARP, America's economy would have tanked beyond our wildest nightmares. And being without the supernatural power to prove a negative, we'll never be able to disprove their claims.
Of all the concerns we had concerning TARP, our greatest should have been that once we opened the door to this magnitude of governmental intervention -- especially under a Republican administration -- we'd have even greater difficulty in resisting efforts by politicians to reopen it in the future anytime they pronounced there was a crisis.
Sure enough, Mr. Obama and his confidants view this "crisis" with eager anticipation as an opportunity to actualize their dreams for government to assume its rightful place as Master of the Universe and choreograph the economy on a super-macro level.
Even the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office has revealed Obama's bill is largely not stimulative. It's more accurate to describe it as a grandiose slush fund for his preferred projects, support groups and constituencies on the spending side and a massive redistribution of income on the tax side.
When the bill is stripped of its rhetorical disguise, we see it's a license for government to shackle the invisible hand of the free market and appoint itself manager of the gross domestic product according to the superior wisdom of central planners.