Charles Goyette is author of The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Impending Currency Crisis with Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments.It's a question that comes up continually, as though the consequences of generations of fiscal and monetary irresponsibility can be wished away: how can the coming currency crisis be alleviated? One may as well ask for a cure for the Sunday morning hangover. The only real cure is the exercise of good behavior and sound judgment on Saturday night. While fiscal temperance and monetary integrity have been in short supply, it remains astonishing that the country is willing to keep tolerating the governing classes that led the Saturday night revelries. So far, before the last round of intoxication (and toxic paper) has been metabolized (or liquidated), they have offered to ease our pain with the old "hair of the dog." The Fed keeps spiking the punchbowl, while the administration reaches for another bottle of stimulus moonshine. Meanwhile, now that they have been tossed out of the bar, Republicans are pledging their new-found fiscal sobriety. We've heard it all before. Abandoning the happy-hour homily of Dick "deficits-don't-matter" Cheney for the sober wisdom of Milton Friedman that the level of taxation is equal to the level of government spending, it is apparent that the only real solution to our economic problems, born as they are of unsustainable debt, is a massive reduction in government spending. But given the current power inebriates in Washington, no one can believe that that needed cuts will be made. Under the circumstances of the grim global referendum on the dollar, made visible in the price of oil and gold, the creation of a new national health care entitlement borders on the lunatic.
The original Medicare program, enacted in 1965, was projected to cost $9 billion 25 years later, in 1990. The actual cost that year was $67 billion. But while there is no meaningful prospect of rolling back spending, is it too much to hope that enough politicians, persuaded of the gravity of our crisis, can be found to hold spending at current levels? That is the equivalent of asking the national barflies to just go home instead of ordering up yet another round. I write this fully aware that in the past, promises to hold spending at current levels have been nothing but eyewash for the public. Still, out of respect for the claim that no one is beyond redemption, I offer up a one-step program to provide the economy immediate relief and cushion our crash. Commerce strains and the economy groans under a growing regulatory load that can be lifted at virtually no cost. We have become utterly inured to the burden that America's productive bear, but it is massive. According to a report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, businesses spent $1.17 trillion on federal regulatory compliance in 2008. That doesn't include the $49.1 billion the bureaucracy spent enforcing those regulations. It works out to $16,000 for a family of four. Athletes intentionally burden themselves with weights strapped to his arms and legs, but only for training. Removal of the load leads to a higher level of performance in competition. And America badly needs to become more competitive. Lift the regulatory load and watch an American Wirtschaftswunder, an "economic miracle." Talk about a stimulus package! And unlike the Republican and Democrat boondoggles, it doesn't explode the debt.
The cost? Well, widespread deregulations would cost perhaps tens of thousands of regulators, bureaucrats and panjandrums their jobs, but what is that compared to 10,000 jobs lost each day since President Barack Obama took office in January? There are others steps that could be taken immediately. Ending the empire and our military Keynesianism would save untold trillions. (Remember that when George W. Bush was inaugurated, the national debt was $5.725 trillion. It's $12 trillion now. And gold, now over $1,000, was $265.) To insure that if it becomes severe, a currency crisis doesn't choke off all commerce and become a collapse, a repeal of the legal tender laws would provide for alternative avenues of commerce to begin to develop in advance of the dollar crisis. But none of this is a substitute for monetary and fiscal responsibility. And while it may be that nobody is beyond redemption, a moment spent sizing up our governing classes and their binge spending ways will have you rushing to the bookstore to learn about my recommendations for the dollar meltdown.