Commentary

Lost In Yonkers

It happens to me from time to time. I'm racing home from the city in rush hour traffic and reach a stand still at a place where there shouldn't be one. Must be an accident or a lane closing ahead. What do I do, stay in line and fume or get off at an unfamiliar exit? I always take the exit, striking off in the general direction of home utilizing nothing but dead reckoning to try to discover a new way. I actually enjoy the challenge. Not only do I get to know a new part of the universe, but I am suddenly totally mentally alert. It's a game. The object is to find your way around the traffic blockage, with a minimum of wrong turns, in order to beat those still stuck on the parkway to the smooth sailing on the other side.

Lost in Yonkers the other day, I realized the journey I was on was like the economy we have been navigating though these past several years. We are off the tracks trying to figure out how to get back on. My opinion: we would already be back up to cruising speed if we had a competent driver in charge. The team leading us doesn't seem to have a clue.

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The Bush economic people are either extraordinarily dumb or extraordinarily clever. If you believe the dumb theory, you believe they actually believe in the supply side economic theory they are jamming down our throats ("voodoo economics" to quote Bush I). Remember supply side economics? Cut taxes and we'll grow so fast that the budget deficits created by the tax cuts will disappear. It was disproved when the 80's Reagan expansion -- driven by budget deficits and little else -- came unglued after he left office. What we got instead was an uncloseable budget gap together with stubbornly high interest rates since the Federal government was soaking up all the investment funds.

If you believe the theory that our leaders are of the extraordinarily clever variety, you need a heavy dose of cynicism as well, because this theory holds that the Bushies are actually running up the deficits on purpose in order to try and dismantle the entire governmental social support structure erected during the decades of Democrat party rule after the Great Depression. But why would they want to do that? I haven't a clue, except that maybe they don't actually KNOW any of the people those services support. I guess Bush II never had to worry about whether social security would be solvent enough to take care of Dad and Mom. (Come to think of it they're on their own form of Government dole anyway, aren't they?)

I'm not really sure the cluelessness of Bush economic policy matters so much right now. The important thing is, one way or another we ALWAYS find our way back to the highway and smoother sailing. Everyone eventually gets home, whether they find the highway fast or get unaccountably lost. And, one way or another, we always return to a growth economy, no matter how wide or deep the potholes we encounter.

The state of our current national economy is that we have finally gotten around the roadblocks and are moving quickly enough again to shorten the journey ahead. In the ad business, activity from job postings to upfront ad prices are signaling recovery. It's no time to go slow out of fear about the next roadblock.

As to the mistakes of our driver, let's forgive and forget. It's really in our hands, all of us collectively, to face the future with confidence. And, magically, that confidence is what will lead to the actual better future we are hoping for. But, you ask, will the misguided economic policies of the administration mess up the recovery? No. Those mistakes are more like the deterioration of the highway itself. Eventually a bill will be presented to us for the cracks in the road and we will have to pay to repair their mistakes. But, like the next traffic jam, it does no good to worry about that now. So, it's full speed ahead! Let's just hope our driver does not take any more wrong turns.

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