Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The age of U.S. mismanagement has left ruin everywhere

Denial is about the only tool President Bush and his allies in economic fantasy have remaining to convince Americans all is well even as it becomes apparent that we are living in the Age of Bungling, Blundering Management.

For comfort, those who have lost homes and jobs can turn to a rightwing Fox News commentator who says that liberal media "talking down" the economy are to blame. Or, they can turn to John McCain's economic adviser, former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, who joins in faulting the economic nosedive on "whiners."

Yet on the reality front, the Office of Thrift Supervision on Friday seized Indy/Mac, a huge Los Angeles bank and the second largest regulated bank ever to fail, as depositors began a run on it. Congress, meanwhile, is rushing to bail out the nation's largest mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also on the brink of collapse. Another 150 banks are feared ready to fail soon.

On Tuesday, onetime global automotive giant General Motors cancelled its quarterly dividend and announced more layoffs as it continued to disintegrate.

And so it goes as America's once vaunted managers in government and business show their inability to manage successfully.

Boasting during their political campaigns of being exemplary managers, President Bush and Vice President Cheney wiped out hundreds of billions of dollars in surplus after taking office, then compiled trillions of dollars in humiliating debt to foreign countries. Unwilling to impose fuel consumption limits on the nation, Bush and Cheney have perilously increased U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Add to this the debacle of Iraq, a disaster in mismanagement that ultimately will punish Americans with trillions of dollars in new costs in return for dubious results.

Two of the oldest, prized U.S. industrial icons--aerospace/aviation and automotive--are management wrecks. The onetime premiere airliner manufacturer Boeing is now in a panic over the inroads of the European upstart Airbus, which now delivers about half the world's airliners with 100 seats or more. Japanese models swamped Detroit's auto industry long ago.

Yet, ominous as all this is, the worst and most callous mismanagement has been applied to the U.S. democracy and its constitutional rights by men and women who have abrogated their public oaths.

While Americans are in danger of losing their industrial financial solvency and preeminence, they should fear a far more painful, permanent loss--the loss of their freedoms.

It's past time for Americans to dedicate themselves to wresting the country from those who have led us here and to redirect the nation to a healthier economic and democratic path.

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