Paul Jacob

The simple solution to corporate excess is to make execs pay for their own excess. Not with tongue lashings added to billions in bailouts, but with going under. That is, with the real-world costs of failure. Had AIG been allowed to fail, these bonuses would not only not be paid by taxpayers, they would not be paid at all.

There are millions more frightening little signs of both the depth of the economic trouble and the ignorance and self-dealing of the political response to it. One was listening to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao tell reporters, “We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S., so of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets.”

It’s not that I blame him for worrying. I’m worried, too!

Truth is, I don’t want to be on the hook for trillions to anyone. Not my best friend or a malevolent loan shark. Though, if I had to borrow, I’d prefer my best friend, of course.

But I especially don’t want to borrow these trillions from China. Do you sleep well knowing that the Butchers of Beijing serve as our largest creditor?

We’re told that we need the Chinese rulers — that our standard of living in the greatest bastion of freedom in the history of the world is largely dependent on the friendly lending of these dictators. To whom my children and my grandchildren will be paying taxes to cover interest payments for the rest of their lives.

How to get back home? Well, Thomas Wolfe was right: “You can’t go home again.”

There never was a time when America shone as the fabled free city on a hill. If there really are conservatives out there who haven’t yet realized it: This is not an Obama problem.

Sure, Mr. Obama is actively making it worse — but with a ton of help from politicians and special interests of all stripes. Had Senator John McCain been elected, instead, or had some other usual suspect been rounded up to serve, it would play much the same.

The problem? Government grows like a cancer, destroying freedom and wealth and productivity. It metastasized into virtually every part of our body politic during George W. Bush’s eight years as president, most of it with a Congress in which Republicans controlled both chambers.

Yet, it isn’t just a W. problem, either. It is an age-old problem. Power corrupts — it has indeed corrupted Rs and Ds alike. Unless freedom is fiercely defended, it withers away.

I spend money every month on life insurance. Mainly because my wife tells me to, but also because if something should happen to me, I want my family to be okay. But when I think of my children and my grandchild, I’m not worried that they will suffer for lack of money. I worry they’ll suffer a much worse fate: lack of freedom.

I’d don Dorothy’s red shoes and click my heels like there were no tomorrow if that would take me to an America where freedom would be better protected and respected. But it won’t.

We have to fight our way — not back, but forward — to a country in which self-dealing politicians control less of our economy and less of our lives. 

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.