We engineers have a saying: “Given enough thrust, even a barn door can fly.” Now, one does not have to have a PhD in Aerospace Engineering to understand how non-aerodynamic a barn door is. But the saying is indeed true: if you strap a big enough engine (some call it a rocket) to a barn door, it will indeed fly. And by “fly” I mean careen haphazardly though the air leaving a trail of destruction in its wake as it slams into things at random.
Right now, the U.S. is not very “aerodynamic” in an economic sense. It’s more like a barn door. We spend hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars more than we collect in taxes. We bog down the doers, the job creators, in red tape designed to make them throw up their hands. We punish success while rewarding the lazy and uninspired. We encourage dependency on the government.
Every week people complain that I am being far too pessimistic about America’s economic situation. With debt up to our grandchildren’s eyeballs, I don’t see how any sane person can think we are in good shape. But many write off my warnings about how you simply cannot keep printing money to cover debts. I have talked regularly about glaring examples such as the Weimar Republic, Zimbabwe, and even Greece. But people guffaw at the truth. And then, thoroughly convincing themselves that I know absolutely nothing about anything, they go on thinking that it is ok that America’s debt load is increasing by leaps and bounds. They think that it is ok to just keep heaping more and more limits on the engines of our economy.
It sounds really great, in theory, to say that the Federal Reserve will buy up mortgaged backed securities to stimulate the economy. It sounds superb to believe that the federal government can create hundreds of billions of dollars, which all go into the pockets of their cronies by the way, and jumpstart flagging markets. It sounds even better to say that at some point all this priming of the pump will result in economic activity beyond our wildest dreams and pay back our “investments” tenfold.
But history teaches a different lesson. And, sadly, it teaches the same lesson as the barn door made to “fly”. It teaches that each of these unnatural attempts at forcing an economy to try to soar provide only temporary soaring at best. Then, after a few short months, we crash back to where we were, if we are lucky, or worse, if we are not. Of course, the know-it-alls who believe that money grows on some sort of magical tree behind the Capitol have yet another harebrained scheme in place to make the barn door “fly” again. At the expense of more debt of course.
Eventually however, all the tricks to stave off the inevitable, final, glorious crashing of the barn door that is the U.S. economy stop working. At that time, we are going to have to deal with the destruction that has been wrought. The longer we insist on making the barn door “fly,” the more destruction we are going to leave for our posterity to clean up. But then again, that seems to be an acceptable form of child abuse to many, many people.
Copyright ©2012 J.J. Jackson