Retirement and Social Security Reform
Washington's Tangled Web Of Deception
Investor's Business Daily
August 26, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice
to deceive." -Sir Walter Scott
It's not just that the wheels are coming off President Obama's
credibility; they're also starting to come off the federal
government in general.
Washington is no longer able to hide its failures behind the
flag. Its mistakes are too obvious and too costly. Even ardent
"my country, right or wrong" patriots are now distinguishing
between America the nation, which we all rightly revere, and
the political enterprise in Washington - which nearly everyone
The politicos in Washington have gone into business for themselves.
And most folks - like newly price-conscious consumers - aren't
any longer buying the elixirs that Washington is peddling.
They all cost too much, almost none of them work, and most
have severe side effects.
People are asking: "Is the government so incompetent
that it can't foresee the obvious consequence of its actions?"
"Is it deliberately trying to make us worse off?"
Washington taxes us in the way that is well-known to do the
maximum amount of damage to us and our economy per dollar
of revenue raised. It then spends our money in ways that often
do more harm than good.
Bounty That Backfires
Misdirected federal subsidies since 1965 have bid up the inflation-adjusted
price of medical care for everyone.
Since the 1980s, ever-increasing government grants and subsidies
for selected college students have induced commensurate increases
in the tuition charged by schools. The result has been to
leave subsidized students little better off than before and,
in the case of everyone else, to make postsecondary education
In the name of promoting homeownership, Washington helped
cause a mortgage crisis that has put many families on the
street. In the name of the environment, the government won't
let us drill for oil - and forces us, instead, to make ethanol
out of our food and the Earth's limited supply of water.
Washington bans most immigrants who have education and skills
that would create new wealth in America and make us all better
off - but since 1975, it has willfully admitted millions of
unskilled immigrants who take from America far more than they
When our businesses prosper and get bigger, they are penalized
with more government regulations and extra taxes. Hard work
and success are penalized. So is saving. So is job-producing
capital investment. Borrowing and profligacy are encouraged.
Washington wants everyone to follow its spendthrift example
- and for a long time we did.
Most Americans have, however, now learned about the consequences
of profligacy. They are turning toward virtues such as work
and thrift - and toward getting good value for their money.
Washington, on the other hand, has not recanted, and it definitely
has not gotten any smarter or more trustworthy.
Just as our long-suffering economy is showing some signs of
life, raising hopes that it may survive the most recent beating
administered by Washington, President Obama and his handmaidens
in Congress are rushing to nip this nascent recovery in the
They are preparing to devastate the economy with more taxes
and historically high debt-to-GDP ratios (including unprecedentedly
high levels of net foreign debt). They are tightening Washington's
chokehold on the manufacturing sector (12% of GDP) and the
financial sector (another 8%).
They are also trying to take over the energy sector (6% of
GDP) with a Rube Goldberg scheme called cap-and-trade - and
to take over health care (another 16%), starting with a phony
The Big Lie
The Obama-Biden administration is apparently guided by a Wikipedia
definition of the notorious Big Lie technique: "If you
tell a lie that's big enough, and you tell it often enough,
people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what
you're saying is total crap."
The battle is for America's future. On one side are the flim-flam
artists in Washington. On the other are the people of America
who are rapidly catching on to the scam.
After having been gulled for most of the 20th century into
thinking that government is a benign instrument for good,
Americans are now relearning the lessons the Founders knew
so well: Government is a constant threat to liberty and property
that must be kept as small as possible, used only for limited
purposes and disciplined frequently.
Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant secretary
of the Treasury in the Ford administration. Robbins, an economist,
served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration.