Paul Jacob

After you’ve gotten drunk, taken the wheel, screeched through back alleys, driven over a hobo, packed him into your trunk, headed for the countryside to bury the body, and steered at high speed into a parked state police car — then it’s a bit too late to demand a painless solution to your problems. Somewhere between your first drink and your last you should have stopped short; you should definitely not have attempted to drive; if you did drive, you shouldn’t have steered pell mell down narrow roadways; after you hit the homeless man, you should’ve called for help, not stuffed him away for later burial; and if you wanted to stay out of jail, running into that trooper’s car was a bad idea, indeed.

These thoughts come to mind when certain ideologues demand that politicians DO SOMETHING about an economic depression. They don’t want politicians to stand by and let the correction take its course. They refuse to be corrected, demanding instead, that the nation’s great solons “fix” everything, with zero or almost zero (or, at least, zero for them) pain.

Fat chance. The history of major financial debacles, and attempts to worm around the consequences of bad financial practices, is not good. I’ve reminded subscribers to my Common Sense e-letter of the post-WWI bust and quick recovery several times. Herbert Hoover, the progressive Secretary of Commerce to President Harding, entreated the president to take extraordinary measures to “save the economy.” Harding rolled up his sleeves and cut government spending, instead. The nation quickly recovered from the devastating post-war collapse, without Hoover’s help.

The next time a crash happened, Hoover was president, and — as a number of historians and economists have noted — Hoover did his darnedest to “fix” things. And put America in a fix that FDR managed to make even worse, by his own grab-bag of “solutions.”

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.