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Panacea: How a single executive decision can win conservatives victories on three fronts
By G. Stolyarov II
The year is 1998, and every news channel continues to relentlessly pour out vivid and attention-grasping details concerning the presidential scandal. Mr. Clinton, of whom I am no admirer, faces near-imminent impeachment charges and no hope of confronting the flow of accusations through a frontal assault. Suddenly, two months following the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the television screens flash with reports of a U.S. missile assault on supposedly terrorist facilities related to al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Sudan. This breaking news throws the impeachment scandal onto the pages of yesterday and for a brief span of a day focuses national attention almost entirely on the "retaliation against external threats".
The attacks are revealed to be a dismal failure, the missiles in Sudan striking an innocuous aspirin factory and the Afghan assault only marginally damaging a minor training camp. Had Clinton been sufficiently cunning to realize the potent tool he had unleashed to save his hide, he would have pressed the campaign and enlarged it into a large-scale operation to weed out global threats. Perhaps Osama bin Laden may have been apprehended, punished, and September 11, 2001, would never have seen such a catastrophe. Nevertheless, immediate consequences withstanding, the core idea behind the distraction approach was a correct path that could have been exploited to preserve a presidential reputation.
The year is 2002, and President George W. Bush faces a menace to his administration which is not as immediate as the impeachment of President Clinton, but is nevertheless a formidable avenue for Democrats to regain sovereignty with the popular electorate. In late June news channels buzzed with rumors of escalating the War on Terror to its rightful next stage, the neutralization of the adversary that is Saddam Hussein. Iraq under its dictator overtly sends monetary grants to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, has spoken out in favor of the Taliban and the September 11th hijackers, and may be clandestinely developing weapons of mass destruction since its defeat during the Gulf War (for even United Nations weapons inspectors had conducted only semi-efficient investigations as a result of excessive compliance with Iraqi restrictions prior to their total expulsion four years ago).
It, an entire nation prepared to intervene on the terrorists' behalf at any convenient time, poses the most substantial threat to American stability at present, but the administration never seems to execute the final order to initiate military action despite the media's recent signals that such may be of close proximity. The result? Any mention of Iraq has in the past several weeks subsided or fallen on deaf ears following another domestic wave of panic originating from the divulgence of WorldCom accounting practices and the subsequent bankruptcy.
President Bush's job approval ratings had remained at an amazing height, in the high seventies, during the heated stages of the War on Terror, not waning significantly due to successful developments including the liberation of Afghanistan, the institution of Homeland Security, the detainment of terrorists such as Richard Reid, Zacharias Moussaoui, and Jose Padilla. Recently a FOX poll places the ratings at sixty-nine percent, a near ten-point slip from late-June figures. This is the situation amid an irrational economic scare causing market decline and fueled by the WorldCom financial troubles.
Such was precisely the scenario Democrats leaped to exploit, an opportunity to impose regulation upon the business world that would at this time be welcomed with open arms by the impulsively cowering majority which, due to over-generalizing stereotypes, has unleashed a malicious attitudinal backlash against not merely the violators but the business world in general, the rhetoric about "the evils of corporate greed" and "the necessity to eliminate corporate domination" permeating broadcasts and press releases, adding fuel to the leftists' fire. Accounting fraud is not a commendable action, but the status quo proves that men who commit it become exposed and penalized without need for additional rigidity in the economy. The particular company loses investor and consumer confidence and collapses, or certain officials responsible for the misconduct become alienated from the enterprise.
In a true free-market laissez-faire capitalist system a deception-based approach is undertaken only by those already incompetent in the realm of business, for the able and productive have no need to cover up their financial state; they are already soaring and reaping profits due to their ability and the integrity which reinforces their honest labors. The poor performers who from cowardice attempt to fabricate an undeserved image of themselves deserve failure and obtain it. Such secrets as theirs cannot be kept in the dark, and have not been in the case of Enron, Arthur Andersen, and WorldCom. Prior to the imposition of suffocating liabilities and further limitations their misconduct was brought into the open. They and the guilty parties within them had all suffered, losing their companies and their fortunes. But this is not the aim of the leftists. The latter seek to, through the amplification of bureaucracy and regulation within the corporate sector punish not the vile and treacherous, who have already received what was due to them, but rather the innocent, successful, and prosperous.
Philosopher Ayn Rand had rightfully stated that any limitation on the activities of entrepreneurs is a limitation on the capabilities of all rational minds. Any coercion aimed as a preventive measure against those who have not yet committed a crime is possible only because the measures are not financially profitable and have not been implemented by logical, clear-thinking businessmen of their own accord. Therefore, these additional shackles in which Congress is presently deliberating to bind businessmen are inherently aimed at undermining the welfare of their enterprises and robbing them of means which could have been diverted toward a more substantial output or the amplification of their profit, both of which, when any man deals with them, present the latter with the opportunity to benefit from their goods and use them for his own interests.
The economy will not recover as a result of drugging the jittery masses with regulation; it will continue to decline. Moreover, the existence of increased restrictions imply an increased chance that another company, be it genuinely at fault or not, will become tangled in a web of bureaucracy and thus become more likely to undergo financial failure and cause another economic scandal to erupt, resulting in more regulation, which will in turn spark greater scandals. This scheme follows the pattern of a so-called positive loop, a chain reaction in which event A leads to event B which in turn leads to greater quantities of event A and so forth. But President Bush is of now unable to wriggle out of this trap by frontal assault, for he would have to confront the deception that this is seemingly aimed only at questionable accounting practices. The genuine aim of the new "reforms" is voiced frequently in the rhetoric of their advocates, "the elimination of corporate greed", the desire to destroy that profit-seeking which is an essential aspect to a nation such as the United States, founded on individual liberties and the right of men to pursuit of life and happiness.
The Republicans have attempted to quell the rising anti-corporate sentiment by proposing merely stricter penalties for violators, but they could not impel themselves to reject the Sarbanes Bill, which creates an independent board to oversee accounting fraud, another bureaucracy to monitor corporations before a violation even occurs! This applies not merely to known criminals but the entire U.S. economy, inflicting extortion upon innocent and well-to-do entrepreneurs for their less competent peers' faults. Every manner of career possesses superlative and sub-adequate performers. Does that imply that Big Brother must hold Engineer A liable because Engineer B has constructed a faulty bridge, or penalize Doctor A because Doctor B has inflicted heedless harms upon a patient during an operation?
The masses do not seem to recognize the menace looming over them not so much in the minuscule problem, but in its supposed remedy. Democrats in the meantime subtly undercut President Bush's base of support by claiming that he and his cabinet are lapdogs of the corporate world and hinting at President Bush's alleged misconduct in the sale of Harkin Energy stock, for which he had been cleared by the Justice Department multiple times, but which nevertheless plants the necessary seeds of suspicion into the masses who irrationally perceive him a crook merely because the word "misconduct" triggers an instant impulse of antagonism within them and frequently does not permit them to analyze the accusation in detail. If these plans for reform are to proceed as they do currently, who shall become crowned with the hero's wreath? Why who else except the great statist crusaders against Big Business, the Democrats? Already a FOX poll has shown that 43 per cent of Americans believe the Democrats to be more "competent" economic leaders while 42 per cent apply this label to Republicans. The GOP is losing momentum, and shall continue to do so if the economy is allowed to resume its collapse via government regulation.
The President has already surrendered immense ground to the very adversaries who seek to undermine his reputation and policy initiatives. Yet this Gordian knot can be cut simply with a sword, one which will save the businessmen of integrity, revive the popular backing the President had maintained during the War on Terror, and neutralize the most significant external threat to United States security. News of corporate fraud must be swept from the headlines by a development of greater urgency, a tactic that worked during President Clinton's ludicrous attempts to fight terror, one that will linger at present due to the nature of the circumstances involved. The United States, guided by an executive order fully within the President's authority, must initiate a full-scale military operation against Saddam Hussein and his cronies in Iraq.
At what time? The sooner this occurs, the more desirable it will be. This logical next step in the War on Terror will encompass at least as great a time period as the fighting in Afghanistan, for Hussein possesses a more substantial military and greater political backing than did the Taliban. However, like the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan, assistance from within can be found in both rival underground political cliques and Kurdish guerillas. It is not to be feared that the United States will fail in this endeavor. American military strategy is oriented on the principle that no single soldier is expendable, that every resource must be utilized to the utmost efficiency with stringent planning beforehand. Casualties will be as or more minimal than those experienced during the Persian Gulf War, and nations such as Israel and Great Britain, America's ardent advocates, are likely to flock to our aid. But the visionary leadership that President Bush had demonstrated during the endeavor in Afghanistan will continue to rally public support for his administration and conservative policies in general.
The more impulsive portions of the populace, which nevertheless comprise an immense portion of America's voters, are more likely to respond not to their recollections of several months ago but to the reports on their television screens at the moments. Given sufficient time, they will again regain the patriotism and respect for the American institutions of capitalism, financial freedom, and property rights which had been directly violated by the terrorists of September 11th. Just like Bush, Sr., approval ratings during the Persian Gulf War had peaked at 92 per cent, Bush, Jr., can expect a similar recovery. If the developments in Iraq conclude in mere months and the Democrats do not by then cool their statist banter sufficiently, the missile-manufacturing theocracy of Iran is a potential next target, or the feudal battleground of Somalia which is a haven for various anti-Western fundamentalist factions. Lacking the momentum to promulgate further abominations in the manner of the Sarbanes Bill, the Democrats will also fear the label of "un-patriotism" which will likely be placed upon them by public opinion and concentrate on the War on Terror once again, becoming susceptible to Bush's agenda, not the other way around.
The cries for corporate regulation will subside and competent businessmen will be permitted to produce away without the malignant eyes of bureaucracy monitoring their every move and attempting to entangle them in the web of contradictory violations. Fraud will be exposed not in the cases where artificial minutiae are bypassed but when customers and investors have genuinely suffered as a result of the company's lack of integrity. The guilty party will lose their business and profit, as they deserve, while the innocent will be left to their own meritorious designs. Hussein will find his proper place within the gas chamber for the atrocities of genocide and terrorism he had either advocated or directly commissioned. And conservatives can hope for a firm hold on government to check intrusions against the individual liberties which render this country great, until 2008 at least. All depends now on whether our President possesses the wisdom to wield the mighty sword in his hands.
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist and an independent philosophical essayist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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