It's the whole economy, stupid!
By Tom DeWeese
We now know that the economy has taken a turn for the worse. We have experienced, for the first time in years, a single quarter of slow sales and profits. The stock market, particularly with regard to the heady startups of various e-commerce companies has taken a bath as many of these companies succumbed to their own lack of planning and management. Elsewhere, however, companies in other major industries are reporting year end losses. Many voices are now predicting a recession, but we are still a long way from that.
Much of the blame for the downturn is being correctly identified with Alan Greenspan's old economy policies. In his crusader's zeal to slay the inflation dragon, Mr. Greenspan has forgotten the number one rule of the free market. Ronald Reagan expressed it best in 1977 when he said, "inflation is caused by one thing. It is caused by government spending more than it takes in, and it will go away when government stops doing that."
In a time when Congress was finally able to balance the budget and kill the prospects of inflation, Mr. Greenspan blames an "overheated market." He has raised interest rates and put the breaks on the greatest market expansion of all time. Even after the reports of a slowdown started to pour in, he still hesitated to remove the shackles and lower rates.
However, interest rates aren't the only reason for our economic slowdown. The disastrous policies of the Clinton Administration are finally coming home to roost, just in time for George W. Bush's watch. For the past eight years, the Clinton Administration has been on a regulatory rampage that has locked away millions of acres of productive U.S. land, devastating the cattle and sheep ranching; put a near halt on the timber and the mining industries.
The price of everything dependent on these most fundamental industries, ranching and farming activities have risen over the past eight years. Despite full employment, married couples are forced to work, and millions still have difficulty keeping pace with rising costs.
One significant cause has been the rising prices and shortages of fuel and energy. Despite this, the Clinton Administration has deliberately and knowingly locked away vast U.S. oil reserves. The lack of a Clinton energy policy has made the United States more dependent on foreign oil than before the Gulf War. As the need for energy soars from the new demand for computers and a wide array of electronic devises that make our lives better, several areas around the nation are experiencing energy shortages and brownouts. California has been rationing energy for months. Government blames the shortages on the deregulation of the energy industry.
That is a lie. The root of the energy shortage is the Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to allow the building of more power plants. In addition, in California, more than 17 power plants were force to shut down because they had reached their pollution limits under EPA regulations. Thus, in the face of massive power shortages, more than 2,500 megawatts of electricity (enough to power more than 2.5 million homes) were taken off line.
This is the insanity of the radical environmental policies that have been imposed by the Clinton Administration. Few of these regulations do anything to protect the environment. Instead, these policies have led in only one direction, the inevitable, predictable loss of jobs, profits and the potential destruction of the U.S. economy. The first signs of this deliberate attack on our economy are already showing.
If a foreign invader had imposed such restraints on this nation, we would be in the streets fighting to overthrow them. Instead, fears of the end of our economic growth can and will lead to hard times unless action is taken swiftly to reverse the damage. For the new administration, however, the answer is obvious, lower the interest rates, lower taxes, and let the environmentalists freeze in the dark.
Tom DeWeese is the president of the American Policy Center, an activist think tank headquartered in Herdon, Virginia. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org.
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