Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The economic equivalent of chemotherapy

Congress is about to find out that since they are unwilling to hang together, they shall now all be hanged separately. At a purely political level, one can feel some sympathy for the Republicans. The Democrats are telling the public, and largely being believed, that a generation of GOP policies have resulted in the worst financial mess in three generations, and that the only solution is to use a huge amount of taxpayer money to bail out the financial services sector -- a solution which will almost certainly have very painful medium-term effects (higher taxes and lower growth, at minimum) and may not even work.

This "cure," however, is so morally distasteful that the American people (who largely don't understand the severity of the crisis) are in open revolt. The GOP members of Congress are particularly politically vulnerable this year (for reasons that include but go beyond the current financial mess), and thus don't want to vote for something which is so blatantly awful. The paradox, however, of voting against the bill is that it makes the crisis worse, further underscoring the disaster which the GOP has wrought on the country. Thus in refusing to take their medicine, they are making the disease worse.

The GOP is in the position of the parent of a child with cancer -- a cancer the parents themselves induced by years of feeding the toxic chemicals, in the spurious claim it would make her grow faster. The parents are now refusing to let the child get the necessary chemotherapy, because she is screaming bloody murder at the pain that the chemo will cause. However, the moral problem for the parents is that the child also knows that the cancer itself is the fault of the parents. (And by the way, there's also a dark suspicion that part of the reason why the parents fed the kid all those chemicals is that they were getting lavish gifts from the chemical company.) Needless to say, the kid is pissed. But still, she needs her chemo.

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