Just Say 'No'

Why do so many calling for economic stimulants sound like they are on hallucinogens?

“Mr. President, it’s time to go big on the economic solutions,” the Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson recently counseled. By “big” he means “a massive second stimulus.”

Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced?

“The original stimulus did work,” insists Robert Reich. “It saved 3 million jobs. It was just way too small to offset the drop.” The former secretary of labor tells lawmakers to “stop obsessing about future budget deficits and get to work on the real crisis of unemployment, falling wages and no growth. Demand a bold jobs bill to restart the economy.”

This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

The stimulus failed to do what its architects claimed it would do. It affected the economy the way Quaaludes, not methamphetamine, affects the body. What they called a stimulus was really a sedative.

We can’t measure jobs “saved,” an Orwellian metric devised by a president who hasn’t created many new jobs. We do know that unemployment rose in the wake of the stimulus. But liberals have never been ones to let concrete reality kill an abstract idea. In fact, the failure of government intervention is their argument for repeating the same failed government intervention. Only this time, they want it bigger. The most expensive piece of legislation in world history up until that time was, according to Reich, Meyerson, and others, just too darn small.

What are they on? 

It’s appropriate that stimulus fiends appropriate narcotics jargon. Washington is addicted to spending. Parallels abound between unnatural federal cash infusions into the economy and injecting, inhaling, and imbibing substances into our bodies.

Like other junkies, Washington resorts to crime to support its expensive habit. The massive counterfeiting operation known as the Federal Reserve is but one example of this.

Out-of-control spending and out-of-control chemicals provoke erratic behavior. Check out the stock market lately?

Even minor depletions of the dosage provoke a torrent of abuse. Pilfer a junkie’s stash and he might accuse you of serving up a “Satan sandwich,” too. They get cranky when you mess with their fix.

Dope fiends confuse drugs for medicine. They imagine their health depends on their next fix. It may, just not in the way that they imagine.

Junkies unleash headspinning lies (we’ll default if we’re not allowed to go trillions further into debt) and make promises they can’t keep (if we don’t spend this $800 billion then unemployment will exceed 8 percent). No matter how transparent the user’s rationalizations, they always seem to find an enabler willing to be used.

The same hit gradually loses its potency. To quote a source with direct knowledge of narcotics, “I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it/so a little got more and more.” The words of caution from Guns ‘n’ Roses could have saved a reckless government from successively larger spending bills—the prescription drug plan, the bailouts, the stimulus package, ObamaCare—that bankrupted us while failing to get the economy high.

The healthiest people, like the healthiest economies, manage ups and downs without depending on artificial stimulants and depressants. We don’t know our bodies well enough to act as our own pharmacists and Washington isn’t capable of anticipating the movements of the market’s 310 million parts to play economic mechanic.

Our economy suffers from too many medicine men prescribing too many cures. The patient would be better off being allowed to recover on his own. Drugs can alleviate sickness. They also cause sickness. So many cures also double as a poison. The addiction to spending hasn’t resulted in a healthy economy. It’s time for the dopes in Washington to get off the dope.

What’s a clean politician to do? “Mind the company you keep” is usually good advice. But steering clear of spending addicts would mean steering clear of the halls of Congress. They are contagious, but helping them kick the habit requires proximity. Perhaps the wisest counsel comes from a drug fighter from an earlier era: Just say “no.”