How to Turn a Recession into a Depression

October 18, 2010 05:08

Destroy business confidence, cozy up to socialists abroad, send deficits through the ceiling ? that should do it.

Victor Davis Hanson at NRO


First, propose all sorts of new taxes. Float trial balloons about even more on the horizon. Subordinates should whisper about a VAT/national sales tax. Other aides should revisit campaign talk about lifting the caps on income subject to payroll taxes.

Second, business expansion is predicated on confidence in the future.

So to ruin that landscape, you might unleash a barrage of anti-business, anti-wealth rhetoric to remind job creators that they are already too rich from exploitative practices. The president himself might lead the attack against Wall Street, CEOs, doctors, and insurers. Now and then it would be wise to spice it up with a nice socialist quip such as “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money” — or digs about the wealthy needlessly jetting to the Super Bowl or Las Vegas. Try out lines like “keep the boot on their necks” and “know whose ass to kick.”

Third, create an artificial economic divide of them/us. Pick an arbitrary figure, say $250,000 in annual income. Families above that figure are suspect and need to pay far more of their ill-gotten gains in income taxes — their “fair share” — to “spread the wealth” and achieve “redistributive change.”

Fourth, if one is really serious about undermining business confidence, then attack the very structure of law, statute, and custom. Reverse the legal order of creditors in the Chrysler bailout case to favor labor unions. Call the investors and creditors “speculators.”

Fifth, bring as many academics into the administration, and as few people from private enterprise, as possible. The point is to assure the private sector that those who are tenured and for most of their lives have been given guaranteed annual pay raises, who pontificate and theorize rather than create and build, will oversee their antitheses in the business community.

Sixth, overregulation is a powerful tool for prompting a depression and should not be ignored. Promise to go well beyond passing cap-and-trade energy taxes (“an extraordinary first step”); convince businesses (“who can afford it”) with “price signals” that if higher taxes cannot take all their profits, their new energy bills most certainly will.

Seventh, gorge the beast. Try to get annual federal deficits up to the $1.3–$1.5 trillion range.

Eighth, take over as many private businesses as possible, the bigger the better — auto manufacturers, banks, insurers. Heck, absorb the entire student-loan program while you’re at it.

Ninth, do not forget to reset foreign policy. Let it be known that socialist systems abroad are no longer suspect. Reach out to Iran, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela; snub free-market Israel and Colombia.

Tenth, assure businesses that they need more unions. Elevate the profile of the SEIU and ACORN. Get Andy Stern into the White House as much as possible.

If this ten-step program were to be followed, we might just get unemployment up to near 10 percent, consumer confidence down to historical lows, food-stamp use to record highs, the dollar to a new low, and annual budget deficits at levels previously unimaginable.


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