HOW’S UNCLE SAM?

No one likes a pessimist, a chronic doomsayer, a bearer of ill-tidings. So, with the news over the past couple of weeks of a recovering economy I risk driving you, dear reader, away, into the arms of the ever-present optimist. After all, unemployment dropped a tad, the stock market swung up (before it swung down a bit on the news of a less than anticipated increase in jobs) and the economy always bounces back, right? Even House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican no less, huffed how things, indeed, are improving (qualifying, of course, that it wasn’t fast enough, owing to Obama’s lame economic policies). Generally conservative Ben Stein admitted on Fox that the president was doing all that he could. High oil prices are, after all, determined by the world economy, not Mr. Obama.

Why can’t I see the light? Let me illustrate with a rough analogy from my experience in the medical field:

Uncle Sam is a drug addict. He’s shot up one too many times and infected his blood stream with a life-threatening illness known as sepsis and is in the intensive care unit with dangerously low blood pressure. He’s being given large doses of intravenous fluids and powerful blood pressure raising drugs we call inotropes which are effectively buoying his BP. He looks much better than when he came in. But he’s dying. He has to be kept alive long enough for antibiotics to kick in and reduce the bacterial load that is ravaging his body, and this will take about two days. However, even antibiotics are useless in the absence of an immune system that will fight the final battle to eradicate the enemy. If successful, we will be left with an intact drug addict free to inject another day, until the next battle. Sam leaves the ICU, then the hospital. He returns a year later and survives, than six months after that. This could go on forever, or so it seems. But it doesn’t, because drug addiction is terminal. Uncle Sam dies two years later from complications of his addiction.

The analogy is complete. If we substitute money for heroin; fluids and BP meds for printing money (the so-called “quantitative easing”) and borrowing; and cutting spending and revising the tax code for antibiotic therapy, you get the idea. Reducing corruption and the size of the government is analogous to stopping the addiction and bolstering the immune system. From this perspective, it’s clear that all we’re doing at the moment is treating the symptoms with fluids and inotropes—the illness be damned. In my world, this would be malpractice.

But it’s not my world. It’s the world of entrenched bureaucrats trying to buy votes to eke their way through the next election, and an electorate hoping against hope that we can make it through this ICU visit one more time.

How many more visits do you think we have left?

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