Somebody Check the Gages

Most people will agree that pilots are amazing.  The flying public trust them ever day to take them safely to where they want to go.  The rest of the people trust the pilots not to drop an airplane on them.  When that trust is violated, and a pilot fails to keep his passengers and the people below his aircraft safe, it is not only a tragedy–it is a surprise.

It is a surprise because we trust pilots to do their job.  They can do their jobs because pilots trust their gages.

Yes, the gages.  Those wonderful gages that tell a pilot what the airplane is doing–even inside a cloud–is the reason pilots appear to be almost super heros to most people.  Early in their training, pilots are taught to trust their gages over their feelings–often referred to as “the seat of the pants” feelings that everyone else trusts to help them live their lives.

Two-dimensional thinking and “seat of the pants” feelings killed many of the pilots at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Over the ages, we learned from their mistakes.  And we developed certain technologies to help us over come those same traps that await us all, if we only trust our feelings over quantifiable indicators of safe progress.

Pilots who are fully qualified are often referred to as Instrument Pilots, those are the only pilot who can legally fly aircraft in all weather conditions.  Fair weather pilots may enthusiastically entertain non-pilots with great tales of aviation exploits, but it would be dangerous indeed to allow such a pilot to take you into a cloud.

We’re in cloud of a different sort today.  A cloud of fiscal confusion and great economic downturn.   The federal government, controlled by a Democrat Party Senate, House, and President are spending American taxpayers money faster than it can be produced.  The numbers are stultifying.

Before the November 2008 election, the Democratic Party controlled Senate and Congress voted in a $700 billion “bail out” for Wall Street.  President Bush, a Republican President finishing up his second term, did nothing to stop it.  His “uniter not a divider” doctrine of politics gave the liberal Legislatures free reign on American taxpayers.

If you remember, John McCain suspended his campaign to go back to Washington to work the economic crisis.  It was there that he was politically assaulted by Democrat Party leadership (Obama, Reid, and Pelosi).  Their political tactics helped convince the voting public that America needed to vote Barrack Obama into to office.  After all, we’ve been taught that “It’s the economy, Stupid.”

If the economy is doing well, most Americans are usually satisfied with the government.  Oh, there might be little bumps and turbulence during the trip, but if we arrive safely and on time, we soon forget what it was we were complaining about.

When the stocks markets closed on an up-swing on 4 November 2008, several news sources said it all about America’s confidence that Barrack Obama was going to win.  The Dow Jones closed at 9625, the NASDAQ closed at 1780, and the S&P closed at 1006.  Of course the markets had been higher back in November of 2006.

Back then the Dow Jones was 12,106, the NASDAQ was 2369, and the S&P was 1364.  What happened after that?  Well, the Democrat Party won the mid-term elections on a call for change to the so-called “failed Bush policies” and we were saddled with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as our legislative leaders.

For the record, the Constitution gives budgetary power to Congress–they are the money folks.  The President can either go along with them or oppose them, but they ultimately decide the status of all spending bills.

Now, we really can’t blame Barrack Obama for any failed economic polices from 2006.  Or can we?  Did you know he was a first-term Senator during that time?  While he supported the Pelosi/Reid economic bills, he wasn’t part of Congressional leadership.  So, we should probably give him the benefit of the doubt for that time.

But what about since the election?  There are so many spending bills getting cycled through congress–billions and trillions of dollars–it is hard for a regular guy to keep track of them.  But it is fairly easy to look at some economic indicators.

        Nov 6, 2006        Nov 4, 2008        Mar 5, 2009
DJIA        12,106            9,625                6,595
NASDAQ       2,369            1,780                1,299
S&P          1,364            1,006                  682

Since the Democratic Party took control of both houses of Congress, the Dow and the NASDAQ have dropped over 45% and the S&P is down 50%.  However, well-over half of that collapse has occurred since the 2008 Presidential election.  Is that change you can believe in?  Here’s a “gages-presentation” of the national economic degradation since the 2008 election:


How about your personal economic degradation over the last two years? How’s your IRA or TSP or 401K doing?  If it is down less that 45% over the last two years, that means your account managers are beating the national averages.  How’s the market value of your house holding up?  And the jobless rate was just released–8.1%–that is the highest rate since 1983.  If you’re one of those 12.5 million people, it probably doesn’t make you want to celebrate very much.

Certainly the market and economy will turn around, right?  After all, how low can it go?

Which reminds me of a story that the scotch-sipping, cigar-smoking comedian Ron White once shared.  According to the story, he was on an airplane that lost an engine. His pilot announced that while the aircraft could no longer maintain altitude, the plane’s remaining engine would extend their glide distance.

The guy sitting next to Ron asked, “How far will one engine take us?”

Rod said, “All the way to the crash site.”

Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results.  Failed policies don’t turn into best practices just because you increase the amount you spend on them.

Something has to be done about the death-spiral our economy has entered into with run-away government spending and the unprecedented levels of nationalization of our once capitalistic system–before we reach the crash site.

It just makes sense.

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