random memes }

Shallow Bush

Guess my opinion of Bush the current President dropped yet another notch. The bit about putting social security money into the stock market was pretty much the final straw.

Now at the most superficial level, putting retirement money into the stock market seems to make sense, as the average return over time is higher. First I heard of this notion was in the middle of the crazy late-1990's stock bubble. Nevermind the short-term effects of when the stock market dives. Nevermind the fact that it seems there is already too much money in the stock market (many stocks far above their apparent intrinsic value). Nevermind the huge transition cost, for a system already strapped for cash.

Surely if he is proposing this notion he must have a plan, and with the plan this will all make sense?

A few weeks back I was listening to one of the political opinion programs, where people from different points of view try to analyse the topic of the day. At the end of the program it was clear - whether for or against the proposal - no one had any idea how this was going to work.

A bit later, it suddenly occurred to me that I was over-analysing the problem. Bush does not have a plan to make this work, and he never did!

Guess I was trying to look at Bush as something like Reagan. Often I did not like specific actions of the Reagan administration. At the same time, I did in the end believe that Reagan was trying to make America a better place. Reagan was by no means the brightest guy on the planet, but he surrounded himself with bright people, and plainly made use of their council. Even when I disagreed with the actions of the Reagan administration, I had some reason to believe the actions were well-meant and well-thought.

Turns out I had tried to look at the Bush administration the same way - and things just did not add up. It suddenly occurred to me there is nothing deeper to Bush! If you look for the most superficial reason to explain his actions, most likely that is all there is.

Now we know that Bush is not especially bright. Unlike Reagan, Bush seems to have little interest in bright minds or their council. Unlike Reagan, Bush does not seem to care especially about making America a better place. Unlike Reagan, Bush was born into wealth and privilege, and likely can neither understand nor care about the life and concerns of average Americans.

If instead of looking for deeper reasoning, you instead went with the superficial explanations, then suddenly actions of the Bush administration are easy to understand.

War with Iraq? Daddy Bush withdrew from Iraq when we were winning. We all know that "early withdrawal" is a bad thing. We now know the Bush administration started planning for war in Iraq long before 9/11. We also know the link between Iraq and 9/11 was somewhere between dubious and non-existant. Go with the most superficial explanation - fix the "early withdrawal".

Now when the war with Iraq was announced, while I thought the reasons given bogus, there was a chance this could be a good thing. If we could step in and replace an evil dictator with a free and open democratic government - this could be one of the most important events in world history. Too long have we stood by and watch millions suffer under evil governments. If we could make a change for the better - this would be well worth doing.

This is a hard thing. Not the war - while war always as risks, we knew our military was superior, and with careful planning we could expect to defeat the Iraqi military. The tricky part was planning the reconstruction of Iraq. This is something that had never been done before (though bearing some semblence to the reconstruction of Germany and Japan after World War II). Clearly this was going to require some careful planning and hard work by the best minds both in the United States (and friends) and in Iraq.

So we invaded Iraq ... and I waited for the plan to appear. By now I think it is relatively clear that there never really was much of a plan - if any. When faced with a task that could have changed the course of world history - the Bush administration didn't bother to do their homework, and went golfing instead. Go with the most superficial explanation - the reconstruction of Iraq is a great chance to hand out "pork" (fat government contracts that profit Bush's "friends" and political allies).

Now we have the plan to put Social Security money in the stock market. It is not clear how this makes sense, or can be made to work. Go with the most superficial explanation - Bush has "friends" that will profit from fees (who will administer the plan?), or will profit from inflated stock prices (when more money is pumped into an already over-valued market).

My only hope is that the Republicans who really do care about the country will find their backbone, and start saying "No!" a lot more often. It is no longer an election year, so it is no longer political suicide to oppose the administration.

I can hope.