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The System Is A Downer

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There are times when I find that being right is not a pleasant experience. The current sorry state of our national leadership — or more correctly, the lack thereof — is just one such example.

In my real-world employment, I deal with examining computer-controlled mechanical system failures and devising means to correct and prevent them. I’m a firm believer in the validity of Murphy’s Law and the many corollaries as a direct consequence of experience. But the negative side of this experience involves automatically creating worst-case scenarios for just about everything one becomes involved with. It’s an ingrained habit that doesn’t shake easily. It drives Mrs. R nuts!

It was worst-case scenario thinking which caused me not to vote for Barack Obama even though I agreed with much that he discussed during his campaign. Worst-case cogitation suggested that he was talking merely to win the election. It screamed that he didn’t really mean what he said, and there was reason to so claim. His Senate voting record often went against what he had previously said he would do, and frankly I was surprised that this fact didn’t come up more prominently during the campaign.

Based on how his presidency is now going, in hindsight his Senate record was an accurate predictor. Obama regularly does something different from what he said he would. As a nation we should have seen this mess coming, but we chose not to look. We chose instead to believe in snake-oil nostrums of hope over harsh and unforgiving reality. The only problem is that when things get tough, as they now have, hope is a poor strategy to follow for corrective action. You never get the machine repaired and running this way.

This doesn’t mean that John McCain would have been a better choice. He freely admitted during the campaign that he was not very educated in economics, and his involvement with Charles Keating and the Lincoln Savings scandal didn’t speak well of his integrity. Crashing five very expensive and taxpayer-funded fighter-bombers doesn’t demonstrate responsible stewardship of the national property either. I doubt that our economy would be doing very well under his administration. It would likely now be much worse.

And just to conclude this portion of my personal political expose, each of the announced candidates for president in 2008 went through a similar examination and I determined that they were inadequate for the job at hand. The only option I had remaining was to write-in Ron Paul as a protest against the sorry state of American leadership, as he at least had a record of being against the grossly expensive and unproductive Terror War Against Terror and a firm belief in fiscal responsibility. He was all I had left even if I found him a bit extreme in most other areas.

But back to our current poor excuse for a leader.

There is an old saying that if one wants to get a mule’s attention, one has to smack him between the eyes with a two-by-four. I have no practical experience with equines, but this tactic does sometimes work in my trade. Lately, a lot of people have been smacking the mule named Obama, and if his attention hasn’t yet been attracted, it’s because he’s now brain-dead from all the hits. All across the political spectrum, one basic comment is made repeatedly: Obama isn’t leading. There are several variations depending upon the pundit’s personal political orientation, but it can all be boiled down to: Obama isn’t leading.

Any president is going to encounter criticism regarding his actions, even from supporters. But there is no evidence that Obama’s team is even noticing any criticism. It’s getting to be such a dire situation that critical commentary about Obama’s inactivity is showing up in the oddest places. I was recently reading an article about how Borders is shutting down their operation in Scotland, and a comment about Obama’s lack of corrective economic action was raised as being a reason why the popular economy is so weak that Borders was thus affected. There are even little digs about Obama’s passivity presented in articles about the Dubai default!

Returning to my engineering experience, there is a definite cause for this inactivity. We just don’t yet have enough evidence to determine what this cause is.

If one looks at Obama’s accomplishments, then one only sees how generous Obama was to large financial interests at the expense of everyone else. In this, he isn’t leading. He’s merely following the trail left by all his predecessors since Jimmy Carter. He’s doing it so well that I encountered an article which compares Obama to Herbert Hoover — and the author attempted to rescue Hoover’s reputation over the comparison!

But the criticism which should be resonating in the Oval Office is coming from foreign sources. When news outlets in third-world nations point out that their fortunes aren’t going to improve until American consumers can again afford to buy their products, when relatively wealthy countries like Dubai founder in part because rich Americans aren’t seeing fit to reside in their plutocratic paradise and spend lots of money due to personal profit problems, and when the world’s non-Wall Street banks become edgy that things aren’t going to improve in the United States and look into investment elsewhere, only one conclusion regarding the passivity of the occupant of the White House can be drawn: The facts don’t matter.

Haven’t we just ended an administration which lived by this mantra? Wasn’t the current administration elected on the promise of changing the direction of the nation? Then why are we getting more of the same from another star-struck occupier of the White House?

Maybe the problem isn’t Obama emulating George W Bush. Maybe those who claim that the system is broken and out of control have a point. When my real-world systems get into this condition (which is thankfully only likely in the early stages of installation), we have but one solution: pull the plug. Stop it dead in its tracks. Kill it.

But that isn’t an option when dealing with the train wreck which international finance has become due to American profligacy and international greed. The situational dilemma can be described as being similar to that presented in Jurassic Park: Shutting down the entire system to reboot means killing all the safety mechanisms which keep the ‘Raptors and the T-Rex from running amok.

Internationally, the wise leaders are beginning to evolve new structures to handle the diplomatic and economic transactions which the US has ignored. Slowly, as if to avoid attracting the attention of American Raptors and Tyrannasauri, new structures and organizations are being created to protect themselves. If they are to survive, they have no other option. The steps taken so far indicate to me that they are on the correct track and that they will likely come to the workable solution.

But here in the US, can we dare hope to achieve this? I’m doubtful, for the actions being taken indicate a future of more systemic failure. Militias are reported to be growing in popularity, gun and ammunition sales are way up despite the economic downturn, and the rampant fearful emotions are being fanned by agitating billboard messages. Instead of thoughtful corrective response, emotional reaction is the only result of the American Calamity. There is no one at the national level showing that they understand the problem and are doing something to correct it. Only chaos can result from this deficiency, and the only preventative then is to shut it all down. This is not an acceptable solution, for it means the end of the Great Experiment.

This brings us back to how Obama isn’t leading. He has repeatedly kicked his advocates in the teeth for daring to interfere with his sell-out to Big Money. Selling out to Big Money isn’t working, for they always hold their hands out for more, sniffing “What have you done for us today, Obama?”. He gets nowhere with those who didn’t support him for racial, religious, or other biases no matter what he does, and he’s disappointing the international community which backed him more strongly than did the domestic voters who elected him. His friends are angry, and his enemies are growing more scornful over how he’s approached them like the supplicating political mendicant he is. To whom can he now turn for support?

It won’t be the American People. Their patience is waning rapidly, and there are growing signs that they are going to again vote for the change they seek and which has yet to be delivered. As a result, Obama will have to somehow deal with a Republican Congress in 2011, and it’s likely he can forget about re-election. This prospect will fill the Republicans with glee, for they will deem their strategy of “Just Say NO” as having been successful.

Their leaders are no better than Obama. If anything, the current GOP front runners will only make everything worse as they each push an unrealistic and emotion-driven social and religious agenda intended to dominate major portions of the American population for the benefit of “true” believers. Their personal beliefs are going to color everything they do — and to whom. Their only realistic option to maintain control over the country is to lead it to holy war against non-Christians with an eye toward plundering those nations to maintain the plush American WASP existence. The world will not stand for this, nor will they fund it.

The American Machine may well be beyond repair. It was run too hard too long without proper maintenance, and then turned over to an incompetent who worries about the indicators not working while the motor which powers them has seized. But the replacement parts are no longer available, and what is available may well prove not to be up to the job – if replacements could be obtained. No one seems to carry any inventory. The minimum order is huge, and the lead time for delivery is long. Oh — and payment in dollars is discouraged.

Maybe if faced with all of this, and not having anyone I could trust to advise me accurately, I might also decide that I’d enjoy the presidency while it lasted, and then fade off into a well-deserved obscurity on the taxpayers’ dime. It would be a lot easier sitting idly on my mule and doing what I’m told rather than actually doing something which might risk losing a plush and early retirement!

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About pessimist

  • pablo

    I am a big fan of the brad blog, thanks for your article.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Excellent article.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Based on how his presidency is now going, in hindsight his Senate record was an accurate predictor. Obama regularly does something different from what he said he would. As a nation we should have seen this mess coming, but we chose not to look. We chose instead to believe in snake-oil nostrums of hope over harsh and unforgiving reality. The only problem is that when things get tough, as they now have, hope is a poor strategy to follow for corrective action. You never get the machine repaired and running this way.

    This doesn’t mean that John McCain would have been a better choice. He freely admitted during the campaign that he was not very educated in economics, and his involvement with Charles Keating and the Lincoln Savings scandal didn’t speak well of his integrity. Crashing five very expensive and taxpayer-funded fighter-bombers doesn’t demonstrate responsible stewardship of the national property either. I doubt that our economy would be doing very well under his administration. It would likely now be much worse.

    If I said I didn’t enjoy being able to rub your noses in the fact that “I tol’ you so”, I’d be lying. But nevertheless, I tol’ you so. You guys had no real choice in 2008, you had no real choice in 2004, and it is only with difficulty that I assert that you had a real choice in 2000. The American system of choosing their elective king has been busted for a long, long time. Trouble is you haven’t got time to fix it, and events will be such that you will not be able to concentrate on fixing it.

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