What Do Politicians Mean By Change?

SURVIVING THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING POPULISTSby John LoefflerContributor, Steel on Steel Radio ProgramCo-host, Financial Sense NewshourJanuary 09, 2008

"Heigh ho,Away we go!The more they say,The less we know."  
It's January and the beginning of a very pregnant silly season, which comes to term eleven months from now with the U.S. elections. If you are to survive this season, we need to give you a couple of pointers
Americans are unhappy, as well they should be, because the middle class is under horrible financial duress, which only threatens to worsen in the next 48 months. Thus the political mot du jour among candidates is "change" or for those new voters just in from Mexico, "cambio."
Ah yes, sweet change. "What change?" we ask the unwashed masses, who with glassy-eyes catatonically respond, "must have change." Oh no! It's an uninformed electorate; the night of the living populists has returned! Methinks we're in trouble. 
The big problem with change is that bad change is worse than no change and the middle class doesn't seem to understand why it's in such a horrible mess. Politicians fuel this confusion by deflecting attention from the fact that most of the difficulties people now face -- a diving dollar, heavy inflation, rising energy costs, a bankrupt social security system, collapsing infrastructure, massive government debt, invasive bureaucracy, choking regulation et al. -- are all the result of 50 years of inept sprawling government, the product of Socialist Party "D" and Socialist Party "R," whose candidates are -- wonder of wonders -- promoting change. 
Instead, they blame entrepreneurs, evil corporations, and selfish Americans who don't want to "sacrifice" to pay "more of their fair share of taxes," and a host of nonsensical reasons. By the way, if you're already paying your fair share taxes, how do you pay more of your fair share? See? It really is a silly season.
So the first rule of silly season is never appoint the same people to get you out of a problem that got you into it in the first place. If they knew what they were doing, we wouldn't be here. New people with new ideas would be real change. So far no new people and few ideas.
In reality, three things are crushing the middle class: overregulation, overinflation and overtaxation, government-related phenomena all. Want change? Slash taxes, slash regulation and slash inflation. Horror of horrors! The candidates won't even discuss that. That would drive their lifestyle into extinction and we can't have that.
This means the "change" Socialist Party "D" and Socialist Party "R" are proposing from illegal immigration to universal healthcare to the war on terror to global warming really mean more of the status quo on steroids: more taxes, more regulation and more inflation; in essence, more big sprawling government. No change there.
So, if you are to survive the silly season, here are four questions you need to ask any candidate, who proposes change:
(1)   What does that mean? A government program is more than a name and you'd better know exactly what's being changed or whether it's more of the same. Moreover, will you benefit from it? Most new government programs result in larger bureaucracy and little benefit to the public, always with a plethora of strings attached. Question One can usually be resolved by asking:
(2)   How will it be implemented or enforced? The devil's always in the details. Most political programs sound great until you discover exactly what a program will demand of you, which brings us to Question Number 3:
(3)   Is it voluntary of mandatory? Politicians are always "volunteering" your time, resources and "contributions" for their programs, demanding you make "sacrifices" to get us out of a problem they wantonly created, which is why you always need to ask:
(4)   Who will pay for it? Most of the time it's you. When someone says we should soak the rich, you really need to ask who Rich is and how wet Rich can he get before they discover your money? Remember, anyone who makes over $30K is rich in politicians' eyes. 
If you can't get hard answers to those four questions, you absolutely, positively don't want any part of the change they're proposing. So far, there are few worthwhile answers to any questions forthcoming. That means put your seat belt on; it's going to be a bumpy silly season. 
© 2007 John Loeffler

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