Thoughts on the current political scene.

The last couple months have been tough for a lot of us in the drilling industry. It seems that the house well market has been hit the worst because of the housing crisis. Since I’m always curious about the world around me, especially when it has to do with my wallet, I’ve spent some time trying to figure out what’d going on. One thing I’ve learned: Understanding the big picture is harder than Chinese arithmetic. Maybe somebody likes it that way; if we completely understood it, we might say, “Whoa!” on some of these so-called solutions that our leaders gin up.

By the time you read this, somebody will have come up with a plan that “we all agree on,” whether we agree or not.

A lot of this hoopla has to do with the quadrennial I.Q. test we call a presidential election. I’m old enough to recall that just before the election, the party on the outside dreams up some huge, world-ending disaster, meant to scare the pants off the voters. From this standpoint, it is a good idea, because it usually works pretty well on the dumb masses. It depends on the voter not understanding what the president does. I may have been a miscreant C student, but in those days, teachers had a way of drilling info into even the most disinterested of us. What I learned: The president is head of the executive branch. This means he executes the laws passed by Congress. He doesn’t make them. If you don’t like a law, blame those who passed it. It’s like a speeding ticket: It’s not the cop who set the speed limit, it’s the legislature – the cop just enforces it.

I remember when the voting population got so sick of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and company that they elected a chicken-plucker from Georgia. No, wait; he was a peanut farmer (what’s the difference?). His idea was to save us from ourselves by creating enough government disasters to cover up all our personal problems. From that standpoint, this was remarkably successful. One of the wonders he created was called the Community Redevelopment Act. This feel-good boondoggle instructed banks to do mortgages to people who couldn’t possibly afford them. This program didn’t go much of anywhere because when the prime rate got above 20 percent, people weren’t buying much on time anyhow. Sure, we all got a raise, but the money didn’t go as far, and we couldn’t buy gas to go there, anyway.

It took only four years to realize we had flunked the quadrennial I.Q. test, and we sent the peanut farmer back to what we hoped would be oblivion. The new president did a lot of things and made a lot of changes, but as leader of the executive branch, he pretty much chose not to enforce this particular law, because common sense and good banking practices said it wouldn’t work. Eventually, we wanted change, so we elected a guy from Arkansas whose major qualification seemed to be big hair and a wife who reminded every divorcee of his ex.

This particular ladies’ man decided that he owed something to the bankers who funded his election and all the downtrodden masses, so he vigorously pursued it. He not-so-politely leaned on the bankers to give mortgages to anyone who could make it through the door and provide a good story – down payment not required, income verification not required, credit history not required, proof of citizenship not required – that sort of thing. Just a few minor adjustments in the banking laws to make it more fair. The bankers didn’t mind, they bundled the loans, and under the greater fool theory, they sold them to others.

This went along swimmingly, until somebody noticed that these people who can’t afford a mortgage are not paying their mortgages. Surprise! It has been known for quite a while, but Congress didn’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, so they just said, “All is well, all is well.” Kinda like the deck chair guy on the Titanic.

Flash forward to the latest election. From the standpoint of let’s scare the pants off everybody, this at least is original. Both of our sorry excuses for candidates agree that something has got to be done right now. Reminds me of a used car salesman who tells me that tomorrow my trade-in won’t be worth anything, and he can’t hold his fire sale price beyond today. The deal is off if I take a little time to consider. Baloney. This idiotic idea has been festering for years, and a little careful consideration won’t hurt.

The guvmint wants us to kick in $700 billion to solve the problem. This works out to more than $3,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. Where do I send it in? Maybe they’ll take a check ….

According to the GAO (Government Accountability Office), if we paid $100 billion, we could pay off the mortgages of every problem loan. I don’t mean just bring them current, I mean, pay off the mortgage, and give them the title. Talk about rewarding productivity! Where would the other $600 billion go? I’m having trouble putting diesel in my truck right now, so I don’t feel too kindly about gassing up Learjets or buying houses in the Bahamas. Maybe I’m just selfish.

Think about this when you go take your I.Q. test. In one corner, we’ve got a guy who wants to reach across the aisle and work with people who hate his guts. In the other corner, we’ve got a guy who wants things like a new federal program to buy shoes for people who have had their feet amputated because of diabetes. I don’t have a recommendation; I just can’t support a guy who’s lost as a dog with a Bible.