The entire nation is buzzing about President Bush's upcoming plan to revitalize the economy. The media, in particular CNN, has been ranking it as his number one challenge of 2003, the democrats have already begun slamming it as being targeted at the most wealthy Americans and the only thing that's clear is that everyone wants relief and everyone is looking for Washington to bring it.
To me, this is just proof at exactly how naïve the nation has become.
One thing that both Democrats and Republicans miss, or rather, falsely assume, is that the government doesn't control the economy. In all of the bickering about who's to blame for the economic downfall (Bush blames Clinton and the Democrats blame Bush), it seems like both sides assume that the President, or at least the federal government, is a giant wizard waving a magic wand controlling the economy at will.
I'm very certain that all of the past presidents wish they had had that power, but the simple truth is that they don't, never did and never will. Anyone who believes otherwise is either a very naïve or a very wishful human being.
The plain truth is that the economy, on a national scale, is an infinitely complex system with literally millions of variables, of which government is but one. While there are things our leaders can certainly do to stimulate the economy (cut taxes, lower interest rates, etc.), if the countless other factors point south, you can rest assured the economy will be going straight down the toilet no matter what incentives your friendly politician might throw out.
In fact, most economists agree that looking at the economy on a national level is usually very misleading. It's possible for some parts of the nation to be doing well while others suffer. All a national readout of figures can do is give you a statistical average of what's going on all over the nation, an average that may or may not apply to half of the people it supposedly represents.
But it shouldn't come as a shock to most of us that the economy is on the government's mind right now. With campaigns less than a year away, most politicians know that, their job depends on the happiness of their constituents and that happiness is largely determined by how well clothed, fed and entertained they are, all variables controlled by the economy.
So, even though issues like Iraq, the War on Terrorism and North Korea have been the highlights of this four-year cycle, it shouldn't shock anyone that it could very easily end discussing the economy. Politicians know very well that, even though they don't have much control over it, if they don't fix they won't be around for another term and, at the end of the day, that's what matters most to any successful politician, their job.
It's truly as simple as that.