St. Patrick’s Day Sanity

Ah, the St. Patrick’s Day season is upon us. It couldn’t come soon enough. Our markets are rattled. Our new leaders don’t appear to know what to do to fix the financial system, but they sure are clear about their plans to explode the government and raise taxes.

Their approach is spooking Wall Street, which reminds me of the Irish laborer who fell off a roof at a construction site. “Were you hurt by the fall?” asked his supervisor. “The fall didn’t hurt me,” said the Irishman. “It was the sudden stop.”

During the 1930s Depression, humorist Will Rogers said, “If stupidity got us into this mess, then stupidity can get us out of it.” That would appear to be the strategy of the “smart” people now running our government.

They want to “invest” money they don’t have — they’re borrowing billions from our children, who will repay it when they are adults — in giant, new government programs. By letting the tax cuts passed under Bush expire, they aren’t “increasing taxes.” They’re “generating savings.” And by not spending money on the war in Iraq — money we weren’t going to spend anymore anyhow — they’re generating more “savings.”

These clever fellows remind me of the time Paddy was being tried for robbing a bank. Paddy was so surprised that the jury declared him “not guilty” he rushed to the judge and said, “Does that mean I get to keep the money?”

Our economy, some fear, is on the brink of a depression. I certainly hoped and expected that President Obama would devote his time to repairing that sizable problem first — not worry about longer-term challenges that we can debate once things stabilize.

But that isn’t what he’s doing. He’s trying to unleash a barrage of old, big-government programs — the Democrats have a clever strategy to put America on the road to nationalized health care, for instance — that just don’t work.

Their propensity to push more of the same reminds me of the Irishman who finds a teakettle in the woods. When he rubs it, a genie pops out and grants him three wishes. The Irishman wishes for a bottle of whiskey; it appears in his hands. When he drinks it, the bottle automatically replenishes itself. He drinks it again, and it replenishes again.

“What’s that?” the Irishman said. “That’s the bottle of infinity,” said the genie. “Every time you empty it, it will automatically refill. Now, you have two more wishes. What do you want?”

“I’ll have two more bottles!” said the Irishman.

Commentator Fred Barnes, on the tube the other day, shared an interesting statistic. Since the Reagan tax cuts and pro-growth policies were implemented in the early ’80s, America has created 40 million new jobs. During this same period, the high-tax countries in Europe have stayed even.

Nonetheless, President Obama is eager to raise taxes. He wants to lift the ceiling on Social Security and Medicare taxes, which would amount to massive tax increases for higher-income earners, which will shift much-needed capital away from private investments and into government coffers. Onerous taxation will cause the most productive citizens to invest less, work less or do everything they can to shield their income.

That reminds me of the time an IRS auditor called Father O’Malley: “Father, do you know Ted Houlihan?” said the auditor. “Aye,” said the priest. “He’s one of my parishioners.” “Did he donate $10,000 to the church?” “He will,” said Father O’Malley.

It’s early yet and I certainly hope Obama and his people come to their senses. I hope they ratchet back their plans to increase taxes and explode the government — not steer toward European style socialism. I hope they focus all their energies on staving off a depression and getting our financial markets to function. Because if they keep spending as they are, I fear that the Chinese, and others who buy our debt, will stop lending us money. They’ll view us as Irish leprechauns, as illustrated by this Irish riddle:

Question: Why don’t leprechauns pay back their loans?

Answer: Because they’re always a little short.

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  • noelfitz

    As an Irish person I object to this racist article. Smearing the Irish is not very constructive or Christian. As a race we are not particularly stupid.

    The analysis is also faulty. Giving some health care to over 50 million Americans is not a bad thing. The current international crisis was caused by Republicans, from the relaxing of regulations under Reagan to the disastrous performance of President Bush.

    The Depression was partially caused by the inaction of President Coolidge. It took the New Deal of FDR to help get America and the world financially stable.

    Articles with no religious content are not appropriate in CE.

    God bless,


    In necessariis, unitas; in dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.

  • SeanReynoldsNZ

    Interesting note:

    They want to borrow trillions that they expect your children to pay back … and they also don’t believe that you should be having the children who will pay it back either.

    They want to mortgage your country’s future because they don’t want your country to have a future generation. Barack Obama stated this when he said that he viewed having grandchildren as a punishment.

    And some people thought George Bush was stupid: Barack Obama is an educated fool. And so are the people who voted him in.

  • NoelFitz,

    the problem with having the government give some health care to over 50 million Americans is that the government has to take the resources used from somebody else. Do you think it’s proper for the government to take from one in order to give to another? If so, why?

    Do you think that taking (which is clearly harmful and wrong when you or I do it) is somehow not harmful when the government does it for us? If government taking isn’t harmful, why not?

    H. L. Mencken once said, “When A annoys or injures B on the pretence of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.” Do you think he was wrong? If so, why?

  • atdigi

    There is no doubt there is a crisis with health care in this country. And trying to provide for those who do not have insurance is a good thing. But with this administration so hell bent on promoting a culture of death, what kind of health care system are they looking to provide? A system that will look at you as a dollar amount not as a person. Thanks, but no thanks! I’ll take my chances with the system we currently have before letting them make medical decisions for me. I don’t need the government deciding one day that it’s more cost effective to let me die rather than give me the needed medical attention to keep me alive. If you don’t believe this is their plan, then I have some swamp land for sale. Are you interested?

  • goral

    A radio commentator out there said that: Liberalism is a mental disease.
    Another conservative talk show host said that liberals are humorless.
    Put those two characteristics together and you have a dead serious, deranged person.
    While we humor ourselves, these types are running the country.

    Well, God is still in charge, He still hears our prayers and Paddy
    is evidence that God has a sense of humor and loves us.
    What’s not Christian about that?

  • Warren Jewell

    Noel –

    Mr. Purcell is obviously Irish-American raised on Irish-based humor. I mean, as basically an Italian-American, I remember passing along Italian-based humor to my pals, and the Italian-Americans guffawed the loudest: “What do you call an Italian standing in mud? Fertilizer – and two or three will make it well fertilized.”

    “Onward and up-” – uh, I mean “downward” – . . . there is a crisis with health care in this country, eh? Not the ugly and ongoing and frequently history-long crises the rest of the world has. I’ll never forget a British citizen – a highly educated engineering trouble-shooter who traveled the world – GRATEFUL that he had his heart attack in the good old USofA. He knew that he’d get the best care anywhere, bar none. He was transferred to a more experienced hospital for bypass surgery. (He noted his prior stop was in Pakistan, where the epitome of his treatment would have been a better coffin to go home in.) Even Canadians are waking up to find they wish they had our crisis in health care – theirs only gets worse and worse. But, I do figure that not only will rationed medicine kill many of us elderly (and disabled, and many young with congenital defects, etc., ad nauseam) but if some hardy old goats refuse to die, the fact that they still collect and ‘uselessly-eat’ off a Social Security retirement check just may mean looking to hasten their deaths.

  • Everyone likes to complain about taxes, but they do not constitute a government “taking” of what belongs to us. We as citizens pay taxes because 233 years ago our Founding Fathers came together and agreed, for the sake of the common good, to form a government that would tax its citizens in order to provide the things the citizens need, for example the common defense. Now of course over the years government has grown considerably, and spread itself into many different roles that the Founding Fathers did not intend, but that’s what taxes are at the heart of the matter; they are not confiscatory and never were. We can discuss whether we as a nation want to pay for things like universal health care, that’s within our purview as citizens. Maybe government should be a lot smaller, I don’t know. But the principle remains the same: taxes are for the sake of the common good.

    So, Arkanabar, that’s why it’s proper for government to take taxes from some in order to give for others. Taxes are a fact of life and as soon as we make peace with that, we’ll be a lot happier.

  • Alright, having argued before that natural marriage deserves government support and subsidy because of its public-good positive externalities, I can’t argue against government funding of public goods.

    But I can most certainly argue about what policies constitute public goods. If a policy’s beneficiaries are *only* those who currently have political power, then it most surely is not a public good. If it benefits one group of businesses at the expense of consumers and/or competitors (but ESPECIALLY consumers), it is not a public good. If the result is the destruction of wealth, then it is not a public good.

    Health care? Nope. Government funding reduces supply, reduces choices, and (at a minimum) doubles the costs. Prices are held artificially low. This reduces supply and increases demand, which always results in rationing and black markets, no matter WHAT the industry. In medicine, black markets include quackery of all sorts. I would expect a tenfold increase in bogus “faith healers” should the US socialize medicine.

    Banks? Nope. Government control ensures that the money supply will be manipulated for the good of those with the most political power. Inflation will destroy the values of our savings and financial instruments, while deflation will destroy the value of our more tangible assets (especially land, factories, and other productive goods). We wind up, eventually, with nothing.

    Protecting native industry (e.g., automakers, textiles, or sugar farmers)? Nope. For each job you protect in the industry which benefits, eight are lost elsewhere. Supply is kept artificially low, and consumers have to pay extra.

    I could go on and on but I would rather refer you to Henry Hazlitt’s classic, “Economics in One Lesson.”