Idgit Watch

When business and government get in bed together, neither will get a good night’s sleep

Posted by danishova on March 16, 2009

This morning, John Fund cited cited that Reagan quote on Fox and Friends, as part of a discussion about A.I.G.’s bonus payments , which everyone is shocked, shocked, shocked about.  Fund noted correctly in my view (I paraphrase), that a contract is a contract and cannot be blithely disregarded because outraged taxpayers have assumed ownership of a private company, something which is a very bad idea in the first place. 

My curiosity piqued, I searched for the source of this Reagan quote.  It turns out that Fund has it slightly wrong, but no matter.  The original quote was part of a timeless  1977 speech given at Hillsdale College:

But, you know, if you lose your economic [freedom], you lose your political freedom, all freedom. Freedom is something that cannot be passed on in the blood stream, or genetically. And it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. Every generation has to learn how to protect and defend it, or it’s gone and gone for a long, long time. Already, many of us, particularly those in business and industry, there are too many who have switched rather than fight. And it’s time that particularly, some of our corporations learned, that when you get in bed with government, you’re going to get more than a good night’s sleep.

This speech deserves to be read  its entirety, beginning with this anecdote made by then Hillsdale President, George C. Roche 111 as he introduced then Governor Reagan:

I know a lady, who, twice in her life has lost her country. She lost it the first time as a very young woman when, in Czarist Russia, the Bolshevik Revolution occurred and she barely escaped with her life. She came to Cuba, started again from scratch, once again built up a very successful competence, was doing very well. And this time, as an elderly woman, again, she lost her country at the time Castro took over. Now, losing one’s country once would be enough for most of use, I suppose. Losing one’s country twice would be enough for the toughest person in the house — but not for this very indomitable lady. She came to the United States where again she started from scratch and again built up a very successful competence. And now as a very elderly person, I’ve heard her tell this story on more than one occasion and invariably someone in the audience, when she is finished, will say, "You poor, unlucky woman. How you have suffered. What an ordeal you have been through." And her answer is always the same: "I, unlucky? Ah, no. I am one of the luckiest women who ever lived. Twice I have lost my country. Twice I have had a country to which I can go. When you Americans lose your country, where will you go?" I’ve heard her ask the question more than once. I’ve never heard a convincing answer.

Here’s Reagan on the cause of inflation, which should be of grave concern to all of us as we spend trillions in order to expand government:

At the economic conference in London several months ago, one of our American representatives there was talking to the press. And he said, "You have to recognize that inflation doesn’t have any single cause. It’s caused by a number of things, and therefore there is no single answer." Well, if he believed that, he had no business being at an economic conference. Inflation is caused by one thing, and it has one answer. It’s caused by government spending more than government takes in, and it will go away when government stops doing that, and not before.

Here’s a fun paragraph, about how hard it is to us grasp the value of a billion dollars:

But we’re so used to talking billions. Does anyone realize how much a single billion is? A billion minutes ago Christ was walking on this earth. A billion hours ago our ancestors lived in caves, and it’s questionable as to whether they’d discovered the use of fire. A billion dollars ago was 19 hours in Washington, D.C. And it’ll be another billion in the next 19 hours, and every 19 hours until they adopt a new budget at which time it’ll be almost a billion and a half. But let me really paint the picture for you. If you gentlemen sent your wives out on a shopping spree, and gave them each a billion dollars, and told them not to spend more than a thousand dollars a day, they won’t be home for 3000 years.

Fast forward to the Obama Administration’s Trillion dollar “stimulus” shopping spree.  A trillion has 12 zeros, and equals a thousand billions, or, to put it another way, a million millions.  So I guess that means that if you gave your wives a trillion dollars, and told them not to spend more than a thousand dollars a day, they wouldn’t be back for 3 million years (2,739,726 to be exact). Yikes!

Reagan concluded his speech like this:

Will we, before it is too late, use the vitality and the magic of the marketplace to save this way of life, or will we one day face our children, and our children’s children when they ask us where we were and what we were doing on the day that freedom was lost?

Who says that Reaganism is dead?

By the way, this video does a good job of helping us grasp how much a trillion is:



Noting that AIG has "received substantial sums" of federal aid from the federal government, Obama said he has asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole."

Good luck with that, Barack.   You and I both know that this is nothing but a political stunt, and the clueless American people will be cheering you on, oblivious to the fact that you are picking our pockets with your “stimulus” plan while pretending to care about the welfare of taxpayers. 

I’m not a lawyer, but I betcha that the “legal avenues” to break these contracts are few and far between.  If you do succeed it will be because you have abused the power of the Treasury, and that is far more worrisome to me than the $100,000 bonuses going to A.I.G. employees.   And to put a tax cheat like Geither in charge of this effort to “make Republicans whole” is just the cherry on top of the ice-cream sundae.

Allahpundit responds to Obama’s A.I.G. antics in classic form.  Video: Obama outrageously outraged by AIG outrage

R.S. McCain links to Megan McArdle at The Atlantic, who asks:

Do any other old codgers out there in my audience remember back when $1 trillion was a noteworthy figure, rather than the minimum price needed to get people to take your policy seriously?


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