Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sowell: The "Degeneration Of Politics In Our Time"

Excerpts from Thomas Sowell with my comments below the star line - - -

Death threats to executives at AIG, because of the bonuses they received, are one more sign of the utter degeneration of politics in our time.

Congressman Barney Frank has threatened to summon these executives before his committee and force them to reveal their home addresses— which would of course put their wives and children at the mercy of whatever kooks might want to literally take a shot at them.

Whatever the political or economic issues involved, this is not the way such issues should be resolved in America. We are not yet a banana republic, though that is the direction in which some of our politicians are taking us— especially those politicians who make a lot of noise about "compassion" and "social justice."

What makes this all the more painfully ironic is that it is precisely those members of Congress who have had the most to do with creating the risks that led to the current economic crisis who are making the most noise against others, and summoning people before their committee to be browbeaten and humiliated on nationwide television.

No one pushed harder than Congressman Barney Frank to force banks and other financial institutions to reduce their mortgage lending standards, in order to meet government-set goals for more home ownership.

Those lower mortgage lending standards are at the heart of the increased riskiness of the mortgage market and of the collapse of Wall Street securities based on those risky mortgages.

Senator Christopher Dodd has played the same role in the Senate as Barney Frank played in the House of Representatives. Now both are summoning government employees and the officials of financial institutions before their committees to be lambasted in front of the media.

Dodd and Frank know that the best defense is a good offense. Both know how hard it would be to defend their own roles in the housing debacle, so they go on the offensive against others who are in no position to reply in kind, given the vindictive powers of Congress.

This political theater is in one sense cheap beyond words. In another sense, it is costly beyond words. (emphasis added)

It is cheap because the politicians who are creating this distraction from their own role also voted for the very legislation that enabled contracted bonuses to be paid by companies like AIG that received government bailout money.

If members of Congress can't be bothered to read the laws they pass, then they have no basis for whipping up lynch mob outrage against people who did read the law and acted within the law. ...

Whether the particular executives who received bonuses were the ones responsible for AIG's problems, or were among those who warned against those problems, is something that those of us on the outside don't know. That includes those in politics and the media who are making the loudest noise.

The politicians claim to be protecting the taxpayers' money. But having politicians trying to micro-manage any business is far more likely to make those businesses lose more money, including the taxpayers' money. ...

Politicians and bureaucrats micro-managing the mortgage sector of the economy is precisely how today's economic disaster began.

Why anyone would think that their micro-managing the automobile industry, or executive pay across a wide sweep of other industries, is likely to make things better in the economy is a mystery.

The real point is to pander to envy and resentment against people who make a lot of money. Envy is always referred to by its political alias, "social justice."

But to put the lives of the wives and children of executives at risk for the sake of Beltway grandstanding shows how low our political saviors have sunk.

Sowell's entire column's here.


My Comments:

Sowell is right on every point he makes.

People like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd have no sense of decency or respect for the democratic process.

On the contrary, they're a threat to it. They're pulling America down with their "banana republic" leadership.

The kind of witness abuse Sowell writes about is terrible. But it's nothing new for many members of Congress. Sens. Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee are among the worst offenders.

I've viewed extensive portions of films and tapes of films of the late Sen. Joe McCarthy abusing witnesses. At his worst - and his worst was bad - McCarthy didn't treat witnesses as badly as do some current members of Congress.

I wish C-SPAN would televise a two-hour program with the first devoted to "the worst of McCarthy," and the second devoted to "the worst of Kennedy" abusing Judges Bork, Pickering and Alito at their confirmation hearings to, in the cases of Bork and Alito, move up to the Supreme Court bench, and in the case of Pickering the Appellete bench.

Kennedy's shouting, table pounding, interrupting, ridiculing and misrepresenting the judges during their testimony was a disgrace. It set the treatment of Congressional witnesses bar in a gutter where others, including Frank and Dodd, have followed.

Banana republic? How about Soviet show trials?

Hat tip: BN


bill anderson said...

Sowell is spot on again. The destruction this Congress and this president are creating is something that cannot be rebuilt in a generation or maybe even 10 generations.

However, none of them will lose a dime. Nancy Pelosi will fly her jet around the world while berating corporate executives who fly company jets. Obama will berate Bush for being profligate (which he was) while being three times as profligate as Bush.

Like the G88 at Duke, these are shameless and apparently untouchable people.

Anonymous said...

I love Sowell. He is like the grandfather who patiently sits at the table at Thanksgiving listening to the youngsters prattle and pontificate about something.

Then he proceeds to completely eviscerate them with one or two sentences.

This guy's BS detector is always working and he is not reticent about sharing the readings he picks up. One-half dozen such people in the MSM would completely revolutionize US journalism.

Anonymous said...


You are absolutely correct. People don't have to agree with what he says...but they do at their peril. He is usually spot on in any analysis he undertakes.

Anonymous said...

Immediately upon the success of the French Revolution, the Terror began. Watching Frank, Reid, Dodd, Pelosi, Schumer and rest of those unprincipled jackasses run their mouths, I have visions of Robespierre, Marat, and the very busy guillotine in the public square. Our congress would fit right in with those vicious beasts.
Tarheel Hawkeye