- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The comparisons between the Great Depression of the 20th century and now are glaring. We are already experiencing a higher unemployment rate than just before the Great Depression, our gross domestic product is growing at a snail’s pace, our debt continues to mount and nobody has confidence in our government’s ability to control the economy. Although we have been asked to accept “change we can believe in,” most Americans recognize we have gone from bad to worse.

The recent debt-ceiling debate was politicized and resulted in a superficial fix. Government financial institutions, specifically Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - which were at the epicenter of the financial disaster just four years ago - were bailed out and taken over by the federal government. Yet their policies and business practices remain essentially unchanged.

Meanwhile, the country’s credit rating has been dropped by one agency, housing values continue to plummet, bankruptcies grow and exports decline.

Frankly, if the government couldn’t fix the economy in 1929, why should we believe it can do so now, 82 years later? The reality is that they cannot. Only businesses can put the country back to work, but if they are inhibited by government policies and regulations, they are less likely to make bold moves.

Some might rationalize the actions in Washington by saying it’s just “business as usual.” It isn’t. This is a battle of ideologies that will be broken only by the 2012 elections. The elections will represent a game of chicken, where voters will be asked to choose the system they prefer: big government versus smaller, a nanny state versus personal initiative and responsibility, excessive spending versus fiscal responsibility. Perhaps never before in our country’s history will the differences be so apparent and the stakes so high.

One thing is certain: The country is on a collision course, both politically and economically. Whichever side emerges as victor in 2012 will incur the wrath and scorn of the loser. Economics has a way of bringing out the worst in people, as anyone who survived the Great Depression can attest. The only way to avert disaster is to create the proper incentives for business to accelerate production, put people back to work and curb our government’s financial overreach.

TIM BRYCE

Palm Harbor, Fla.


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