Tuesday, 6 September 2011

You Shouldn't Make Much Out of This

The theme from the think-tank guys on Friday after seeing zero jobs created for the month of August was: you shouldn't make much out of this.

Zero jobs created.  There's a historical side to this story, if you didn't read through the various news sources.  The last time that you had a zero jobs situation for a month....was in 1945.  Elvis was ten years old at the time.  The war was ending.  Most folks were making around $2,400 a year for a salary.  A guy could buy a shirt for $2.50.  A new Ford sedan was $1,400.

I sat and pondered over zero.  The think-tanks mostly hinted that you couldn't take much out of this.  It wasn't a negative zero....it wasn't a positive zero.  It was just zero.

Engineers like zero because there's just not much you can do with it.  Accountants like zero because it's final.  Presidents like zero because at least it's not negative news.  People who drink Coke Zero like it because there are no calories.  Folks who really get into soccer like zero-to-zero games with the shoot-out at the end. Regular folks like zero accident periods because it lowers your insurance costs.  When a guy can go out on a date....spending zero cash....and still score at the end....they get all pepped up.

So zero can be a big deal. You just have to have the right frame of mind.

Remember, if your wife doesn't shoot you today....that's zero gunshot wounds and it's a positive thing.  If your son does zero stupid things today and doesn't get arrested....that's a positive thing.   If your boss fires zero folks today, that's a positive thing.  If you didn't have food poisoning today....that's a positive thing.  If your neighbor didn't shoot your dog today....that's a positive thing.  If a hurriance or tornado didn't touch your property today....that's a positive thing.

Perhaps we are unappreciative of the number zero.  Maybe we ought to pray more and thank God for zero bad things happening to us.  Maybe zero means more than we think it does.

That's the sum of things in America today....zero.  Take it or leave it.

A Damn Stupid Idea

It was an odd group.  There was the guy in charge of the group.....Gouverneur Morris, from Pennsylvania.  Then you had the "other" members: John Dickinson, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Edmund Randolph, James Madison, Roger Sherman, James Wilson, and George Wythe.  Their job....as Morris led the group, was to write the Constitution.

In the end....what they wrote up....was the sum of a couple of ideas in basic form.  It could be read by a twelve-year old kid.  It could be readily understood by a farmer.  You could read the whole thing in less than ten minutes.

What was curious in the end....and throughout the past two hundred years....was no mention of a super-committee to put together the budget.  This week....we've come to this new invention....super-committee.

Expectations?  No one in the media says much of anything other than describing the terrible nature of this party or that party in the mix of this thing.  Think-tanks mostly sit there and talk about the three hundred things these guys could do....increases taxes or cutting the military usually makes it into the top three topics every time this is discussed.

So you can imagine Thomas Jefferson sitting there....contemplating the nature of Congress and the Senate....and then writing up this requirement for super-committees to always put things together.  I'm guessing he sat there for ten minutes, gulped down some homemade ale, and just grinned because it was awful damn stupid.

Seventy-odd years would go by and you can imagine Lincoln standing there....contemplating a super-committee to fix up the problems between the northern states and southern states....then gulping down an ale and grinning because it was too damn stupid.

Somewhere around 1931, here was President Hoover (always referred to by President Coolidge as "Wonder-Boy")....thinking about this great idea of a super-committee to fix the recession issues.  He thinks on this for ten minutes....gulps down a glass of water (Prohibition hadn't been repealed yet, if you remember).....then grins because it's too damn stupid.  Three years later....here is President Roosevelt who thought about an idea of a super-committee....but it lasted 30 seconds before he gulped down a gin and tonic and grinning.

As Johnson realized the mess with racial relations.....he probably contemplated a super-committee for ten minutes....before grinning and sipping on a beer.  Richard Nixon looking over his Watergate troubles....could have contemplated a super-committee....but I doubt if the idea lasted more than thirty seconds seconds before G. Gordon Liddy said "That's a damn stupid idea".  Jimmy Carter?  With the recession in full bloom....it would have been a great time for a super-committee.  But I suspect that Jimmy contemplated it for a minute before he realized he wouldn't have any control over it and probably wouldn't win the Nobel Peace Prize for it....so it was a damn stupid idea.

Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush?  I'm guessing they all must have contemplated the super-committee for various ailments and issues.  Eventually, they all agreed...it was a damn stupid idea.

So we've come to the summer of 2011, and we are finally in some agreement....we need a damn stupid idea like the super-committee, because nothing else will work in these times.  And what if it works?

I could see a super-committee being formed every year.  States might get around to super-committees.  County governments might get around to super-committees.  Cities might get around to super-committees.

But honesty, to be very frank here.....it's still a damn stupid idea.