Thu, 19 Mar 2009 15:50:01 +0000 – By Jon Kraushar Communications Consultant
At what point in our economic crisis does "too big to fail" become too big an excuse to tolerate?
The "too big to fail" list of the irresponsible, the incompetent and the dissembling is getting too long: AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the automakers, big banks and Wall Street firms, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Barney Frank, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Christopher Dodd. The list goes on--and up.
When does too big become too much, as in more millions, billions, or trillions in spending, debt, bailouts and bonuses? There is a name for a money pit that grows too big. It's called bottomless.
Is it not true that you get more of what you subsidize and reward? We are feeding failure and starving what stops it: the setting of limits, the imposition of standards, the corrective measure of discipline and the substitution of better management.
When does bigger mean worse instead of better, as in bigger entitlements, welfare and government control over our private choices in areas like health care, education, the energy that we use and the design of the cars that we drive? What happens to our interests when special interests like unions and lawyers are granted special privileges that grow their power and shrink ours?
The "changes" imposed and proposed so far won't smother the economic wildfire. They will smother our freedom.
Are we too small as individuals, too scattered and unorganized for big government to give incentives to our success rather than further enabling those that are too big to fail? Are we not enough of a unified force for big government to view us as a special interest group? There seems to be no ceiling on what is being given to those who are too big to fail and no floor on what is being taken away from us.
There is only one growth sector in this economic crisis at this point: big government. The federal payroll, federal spending and federal controls are getting bigger as our 401-Ks are getting smaller. Washington is becoming Fat City while everyplace else is getting skinnier. If we're not careful, so many people will be on the federal dole in one way or another that big government will buy its way to absolute power by creating a society of dependents with no stake in limiting Big Brother's excesses.
For many of us, our outrage is increasing by the day because our concerns and misgivings have been considered too small-minded by elites who see us as insufficiently acquiescent. We are supposed to let "big government's big thinkers" make "big decisions" about "big matters" without big scrutiny.
It is a travesty that the AIG bonus scandal has become a populist witch hunt by Congress to divert attention from its larger malfeasance in contributing to the economic crisis in the first place. However, the AIG bonus brouhaha could prove useful if it exposes Congress' arrant hypocrisy.
In the stimulus bill, at the urging of Senator Dodd, the Democrats in Congress--with Treasury's compliance--expressly permitted the AIG bonuses to be paid and now Congress is howling?This mismanagement needs to be revealed before President Obama's burgeoning restructuring of the economy proceeds further.
What's key is that our outrage is making inroads with the biggest decision maker in all of this: President Obama.
He has left the insular world of the Beltway to make his case in the bigger world of the rest of America, whether it is an appearance on Jay Leno's TV show or it is town hall meetings.
It is a positive development when President Obama gets off his teleprompter and leaves his spin zone of control and comfort to enter the interactive zone of questions from citizens, journalists and even television comedians.
Let's support the president by broadening the debate beyond Washington, where there is a surreal attitude that problems can indefinitely be pushed off to the future--and to future generations.
This crisis is too important to leave to the "experts" to solve. We underestimate ourselves if we believe that our grounding in everyday reality--in the consequences of actions--makes us inadequately "expert" to come up with solutions that are confounding those who are "too big for their britches."
The answers and solutions don't seem to be coming from the top down (Washington) so they need to generate from the bottom up (us).
What is too big and too important to fail is everything we have worked so hard for and believe in.
Take a big breath. Then start shouting, writing and otherwise expressing your opinion.
Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.
Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net. He is a consultant to corporate and political leaders including Steve Forbes.