Friday, February 6, 2009

"Nothing to fear, but fear itself"

Fear: an unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or anticipation of danger. We like to think of ourselves as rationale beings that make smart decisions based on fact. We like to think we can remove our emotions and weigh cost versus benefits. I have news...that is not where we, the American people, are today. Unfortunately, fear is setting public policy. This is nothing new...fear has ruled people since we lived in caves. Fear paralyzes sometimes and causes over reaction at other. The one thing in common is that it usually leads to less than optimum decisions. I believe that fear led President Bush to enact laws and wage wars that he thought were the only solution to keep America safe. Just like normal Americans, he points to exceptional circumstances that lead him to make decisions that he felt justified because of the anticipation of danger. Perceived or real danger has the same effect. See post below, but the perceived threat was great, not just to President Bush. President Bush let fear influence his decisions...the fear of another attack on American soil and the fear that people would question his inaction if he did not take radical action. Most of the laws over the past 100 years are based in fear. Elected officials make decisions based on being re-elected. Decisions focus on the next election and not what is best for the country in the long term. This has led to a financial crisis which has just begun. The GAO did an outstanding job factually documenting the dire straits our posterity will face.

So today we have a choice to succumb to the fear and repeat history. As Roosevelt put it in his first inaugural address, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." He was exactly correct. The sad part is that his action spoke louder than his words. I highly recommend that you read his entire address. History is eerily repeating itself.

Let's learn from history. Let's use history to confront the fear which leads us to bad decisions. Fear that says spending is the only way out of this crisis. Exuberant spending is why we are here. A government that over spends sets the example. Live greater than your means...let me think, what was the spark that started this fire...oh yeah it was spending on credit and trading credit. What is the current stimulus bill: SPENDING ON CREDIT! When will we learn?

I firmly believe that the following statement by Roosevelt has roots in our problems today:

"Security was attained in the earlier days through the interdependence of members of families upon each other and of the families within a small community upon each other. The complexities of great communities and of organized industry make less real these simple means of security. Therefore, we are compelled to employ the active interest of the Nation as a whole through government in order to encourage a greater security for each individual who composes it . . . This seeking for a greater measure of welfare and happiness does not indicate a change in values. It is rather a return to values lost in the course of our economic development and expansion . . ."Franklin D. Roosevelt: Message of the President to Congress, June 8, 1934.

Roosevelt gave up on what made America great...interdependence of members of families upon each other and of the families within a small community upon each other. Government replaced people. It took years but the unintended consequences of the decisions made in the 30s and 40s are catching up to us today. Those are posts for another day.

America is great! YES WE CAN overcome the despair of the day, but we must not let our fears control us. We, as a people, value our freedom. DO NOT LET OUR FEARS AND DEPENDENCE ON GOVERNMENT DRIVE US TO GIVE THOSE FREEDOMS UP. We would be better off monetarily poor than prisoners to our fears and government.

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