Saturday, January 15, 2011

How About a Czar Ombudsman?

President Barack Obama has carried government by fiat to a new extreme. At the most recent count, he has appointed at least 39 czars to positions of executive authority over all aspects of Americans' (and foreigners') lives, without any check by Congress. And lest you think this was a one-time phenomenon, there is indisputable evidence of a trend: there were just 32 czars as of July 2009.

Under the current crazy budgeting scheme in effect (when Congress even deigns to follow it), the executive branch proposes, and Congress dozes, simply raising the debt ceiling as necessary to enable the government to borrow ever more and more to finance its previous debt. As this fiscal genius on the left makes plain, there really is no need to borrow, and hence no need for a "debt ceiling." The government can simply print money any time it pleases -- so what, pray tell, exactly is the problem with more spending without corresponding income? (It reminds me of the old cartoon, when a wife says to her husband: "But we can't be overdrawn, honey -- I still have some checks left.")

The problem is this: for fiat money to work as a medium of exchange, money must represent ultimately a valid promise to pay. "Fiat money" is the ultimate exercise of government's prerogative: "And Government said: 'Let there be money printed on paper', and lo: there was money printed on paper, without any backing in gold or other commodities, and Government saw that it was good." When you accept a dollar in exchange for your work, or goods, you expect that dollar to be fully exchangeable when you tender it to someone else for goods or services.

And to be sure, the Government helps out, by legislating that all paper money it issues "is legal tender for all debts, public and private." (Check any paper bill you happen to have in your wallet.) So when someone offers you paper dollars in payment of his debt to you, the Government regards it as a legal extinguishment of his debt: the paper dollars are, in other words, a valid exchange for his earlier promise to pay you the sum he agreed he owed you.

But that bargain works only for so long as the dollar remains accepted as a valid promise to pay. It is not enough, for instance that the Government's fiscal policies have resulted in a depreciation of what was one hundred cents in 1913 to just four cents or less today:

If the government elects to follow the path recommended by that financial genius I citied earlier, then there will come a time when the rest of the world says: "The party's over, my friend. No more paper dollars: we refuse to accept them for what you owe. You will have to start paying your debts in gold, or Swiss francs, or some other reliable currency. And guess what: until you rein in your current spending spree, and unlimited printing of paper dollars, you won't be able to buy any gold, or francs, or any other reliable currency, because no one wants your worthless 'money.'"

The Obama administration is embarked on a course from which there is no honorable return. Although publicly confessing that "we are out of money", President Obama shows no sign of walking the walk that he talks. He has taken more vacations in the first two years of his term than any prior president, at a total expense which can never be known, because the executive branch does not provide an easy target: it divides its budget into at least 12 different categories, so that no one critic can cite the actual total it spends.

But never fear -- the authorities who keep vigil over the country's borders are ever on the watch to keep out those who would try to freeload on our generosity. For an example, please read this story of the vigilance on the part of our immigration officials, who barred a nine-year-old English boy from visiting Disneyworld with his grandparents. Because the grandparents were from South Africa, and they had obtained only a South African passport for their grandchild, who was born and raised in England, the "Government" in its wisdom denied the boy a visa to come to America and visit Disneyworld, because, don't you see, "there was a risk he would not leave the U.S. at the end of his holiday."

Brilliant -- absolutely brilliant. I do not argue that such stupidity could not occur under any American administration, but I have to say, with 39 czars to date, this stupidity is particularly characteristic of the Obama administration, which through its czars seeks to control, without any Congressional regulation or oversight, the tiniest details of individuals' lives, occupations, and spending habits. After all, when one sees the need for thirty-nine new "czars", no less, what must be the hubris that decides there shall be no ombudsman among them, to rectify the inevitable mistakes of the multiplying bureaucracy? "We are of Obama, and we can do no wrong." (Tell it to the White Star Line.)

Indeed, it is that very fact that clinches it for me. Of all the 39 czars the President has seen fit to appoint, in a deliberate end run around Congress, no one -- not President Obama, not Congress, nor anyone else in "Government" -- has called for the administration to appoint an ombudsman. "We are of Obama, and hence we can do no wrong."

Q. E. D. President Obama's administration cares only about power, and not mistakes. Welcome to America, Micah -- that is, in theory. You can surely experience all you need to of Disneyworld on YouTube, and then we won't have to worry that you might become a financial burden on us, as our President has turned out to be. One spendthrift, after all, is enough.


  1. There are already places in this country where you can not pay your bill with cash- rental car agencies are the most notorious.

  2. Isn't it funny that the word "Czar" - a byword for absolutism has become the preferred designation of certain high-level bureaucrats? Sometimes we are accidentally told the truth.

    Instead of "The Czar of all the Russias", in the early twenty-first century we have "The America of all the Czars".

  3. Right up front - yes I am a pedantic.
    So, in paragraph 6, 'reign' should be 'rein'.

  4. Fixed -- thank you!

    No apologies for pedantry necessary on this blog, Carolyn; I am glad to have help in proof-reading the posts.