Phil Nugent on Hoover, Bush, Obama, Roosevelt, Clinton, and how far we allow our fellow citizens to fall.
"There was a time when the kind of government initiative that Roosevelt embodied, and that Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama have tried to extend to basic medical coverage, was considered strange and new, and it was allowed to become an accepted part of the national landscape because for a couple of generations most people, including those American politicians (Ronald Reagan very much not excluded), still had vivid memories of how much worse things could be without it. George Bush, Jr.'s effort to privatize Social Security was an important moment in the contemporary American history, because it served notice that power had finally passed into the hands of a generation of thoughtless spoiled 'tards who lacked both historical memory and any feeling for anyone who couldn't have their personal assistant hire a private jet if that was what it took to get them the hell out of the way of a hurricane. It's not yet clear how much the current population will remember the crash of '08 and its own lessons; it would be sweet to think that people will take the hint and stone the next person they see preaching the importance of markets unfettered by regulation, but the last several years would have been a lot different if they'd taken that same lesson from the S & L scandals that, along with the end of the Cold War, provided an appropriate capper to the Reagan era. Instead, that turned out to be one of the most mysteriously quickly forgotten instructional lessons of our time, brushed aside in what Greenspan himself called the "irrational exuberance" of the '90s bubble economy. One hates to suggest that an even worse crash might have been healthier for the long-term sanity of the nation, but it would be interesting to know how many of the people whining about the dangers of socialism at those town hall meetings would have eagerly mailed their Social Security funds off to Bernie Madoff, if only our former MBA President had had his way."