The Three Blind Men and The Elephant

David S. White
Principal of the Law Firm of David S. White & Associates, West Los Angeles, specializing in litigation, arbitration and mediation of real-estate-related disputes and litigation since 1977; www.dswlawyers.com

The parable goes something like this. Three blind men were trying to figure out what they had encountered when they met an elephant drinking from a stream. The first touched the elephant’s leg and thought it was a tree. The second touched the elephant’s tail and thought it was a rope. The third touched the elephant’s trunk spouting water and thought it was a water hose. A venerable American political party, which shares the elephant as its long-time symbol, is also having this problem right now.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ran into the Media brick wall when he spoke on Prime Time TV (which he was not ready for) recently and came across as a wooden and strange fellow who was delivering a message that simply did not resonate.

Newly crowned Chairman of the Republican National Party (for now), former Lieut. Gov. Michael Steele, seems to have Foot in Mouth Disease and may experience an early crib death unless he can learn to corral his tongue and focus his message.

Last, but far from least, Rush Limbaugh, led by his own bombastic style, has been ensared by Rovian tactics seeking to hoist him on his own petard, but this time it is coming from the new Democratic Party’s backroom evil genius brain trust, likely led by Rahm Emmanuel and James Carville.

Now we hear that the Congressional Republicans, who, like it or not, are being Media-painted as the ‘Party of No,’ and, as a result, are watching their popularity ratings slip lower and lower, racing neck and neck with the increasingly depressing economic news, to see, like in the old Limbo song, ‘How Low Can You Go (?),’ have rolled out their big cannon at the end of last week – their new Campaign to Freeze Federal Spending, a misguided and ill-considered Titanic voyage, to be sure.

When you fly a small plane, you soon become aware of a noisy little device called a Stall Warning Indicator – it screams when you go into a stall and, if you don’t do something pilot-like pretty fast to pull out of that stall, down you go, and you and your plane are shortly planted firmly in the ground. The Republican Party’s misguided strategies of late are ignoring a screaming Stall Warning Indicator, and, if they keep ignoring it, they too are headed for disaster and a long dirt nap.

There is time enough to get ready and posture for the 2010 mid-term elections, still a year and half away. Our disturbing recent trend to lengthen campaigns – the recent Presidential campaigns seemed to go on for years – seems like we just campaign all the time now, with little time for governing or rationality. But, campaigning on a perpetual basis does not excuse or justify being utterly stupid in the face of economic reality.

Any Governor, like Bobby Jindal, who flatly refuses Federal money right now while their state’s population is really suffering, simply does not appreciate the gravity of the current situation. The idea of a Campaign to Freeze Federal Spending in the face of the growing economic Trainwreck is nothing short of Legislative Malpractice – responsible, credible economists are crying out that our only hope to truly avoid Great Depression II is to take the Keynesian Route now and pump Federal money into the economy to re-boot or jump-start the economy – but, Congressional Republicans are doing their level best to imitate the Three Blind Men, all trying to figure out what the elephant really is.

The U.S. economy has run off the rails and is now, as Kinky Friedman is fond of saying in his campy detective novels, ‘out there where the busses don’t run.’ Anybody honest will tell you that nobody knows if massive Federal spending will work, or, if it does work, how long it will take – and, Americans have famously short attention spans. If you think of economics as a hydraulic model, the pump which moves water (money) through the system is not working, and the water is not flowing. It’s not that we are out of water (money); there’s more than enough – the problem is that it is not flowing through the system.

The pump must, I repeat, must be primed, in order for the water (money) to flow. This is the point that Herbert Hoover missed, and which most who have studied the Great Depression of the ‘30’s feel was a key factor in exacerbating the problem, and it is also the point that Congressional Republicans are currently missing in proposing a Campaign to Freeze Federal Spending. It would be absolute economic suicide to freeze Federal spending right now when the injection of money into the system is so desperately needed to reboot or jump-start this economy, and may truly be our last chance to avoid Great Depression II.

One would sincerely hope that some real Republican Party leadership, grounded in rational, reasonable thinking and with real ideas (and not just ‘No’), will emerge soon, before the elephant steps on the Three Blind Men (who are still trying to figure out what it is) and squashes them all as flat as a pancake.

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