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Caseythoughts John Prine once opined (in his inimitable and folk-sy way) that "...all of the news just repeats itself...". It so often seems so, and I certainly have displayed the truth of that in this column, but maybe that seems more true as I grow older. Or, maybe, it's just the nature of what is now called a 'news cycle'. In an effort to defeat the defeatism of 'the news repeating itself' I have found another singular story to chew thoughtfully upon. In otherwords, I've got to clear up some of the stack of paper on my kitchen table which the housekeeper refuses to even cast other than a glowering glance at.

Elizabeth Warren, the presidential candidate, has released a small book to accompany her attempt to win the hearts and minds of America entitled "The Coming Crash and How To Stop It". I'll not argue the finer points, just point out some of the 'lowlights', remembering that releasing a book now seems to be required if you're running for President. With a title like that, it hardly qualifies as the "Audacity of Hope".

Warren writes that foreclosure rates are rising, shaky sub-prime lending is on the increase, corporate and household debt are spiking, wage stagnation (so-called) is a fact of American life and states that "a single shock could bring it all down."

I'll not argue the finer points of her economic assertions (all debatable and even possibly downright incorrect) but will hark back to the earlier days of my talk radio show. In the early and mid-nineties it was a fact of life and AM broadcasting that I would find in my mailbox a daily ration of press releases, publicity blurbs and sometimes books written by various authors that can be categorized as 'OMG, The Coming Crash'. I still have a couple of these books in my library, and one is even entitled "The Great Reckoning". I interviewed more than a few of these authors. They were more than entertaining; they were playing to American fears that stoked, among other events, the Perot campaign, the balanced budget amendment, attendant with recent memories of 1978-1981 and its 'misery index' of inflation, soaring interest rates, stagflation and unemployment blamed on Japanese imports, soaring debt, etc. Jimmy Carter's malaise, and demise.

These authors and their books seemed to have a common thread (accompanied by radio advertising of the common dread and how to guard against it with gold): they were all of a libertarian streak and they certainly all were on the 'right wing' of the political spectrum. Eventually I learned they were also contrarian investors and frequently 'gold bugs'. They certainly were 'hawks' on federal debt levels and dangerous borrowing.

And that's what's fascinating about Elizabeth Warren's campaign book. Here's a candidate who is vying for the mantle of 'more progressive than my competitors' echoing the same theme as the gold bugs (Trump is trying to get one of these gold standard believers on the Federal reserve, you may know) and fear-mongers of the right wing of the 90's. Is it possible that Warren is a gold bug? Or has the 'right' now gone 'left'? If she enters the California Democratic primary next year (which she must) we might find out, since it is now California law that all candidates must relinquish/release five years of tax returns, although that may not tell us much about her investments. But there's a larger question to be raised, I think.

If corporate and household debt is crushing America and setting us up for a 'crash' (even Thomas Jefferson railed against banks and debt) then how would she address it as Chief Executive? Raise interest rates to squelch borrowing? Even if the President could, which he/she cannot, I don't think a candidate who cries out 'banker greed' could possibly advocate for higher interest rates to slow growth and possibly kill borrowing, and which would, first and foremost, harm lower income people that benefit from lower interest rates and happen to be the group she advocates for.

Speaking of debt, how would 'Medicaid for All' or single-payer insurance (there's a phrase that has been quietly dropped from the progressive lexicon like 'low-income housing') be viewed through the lens of federal debt and deficit? Over twenty trillion dollars worth, according to various sources including the Congressional Budget Office, and that's approximately how much the American health care business is worth yearly. That amount could come out of 'rich folks' pockets (read: taxing anyone with income over one hundred thousand dollars yearly) and raising corporate taxation by double digits. There goes, arguably, the longest economic boom in American history which Warren says is about to come to a screaming, crash and burn halt. Well, raising taxes could certainly hold down corporate and household spending, couldn't it?

Talk about an income transfer. Can't borrow or spend on a home, a car, furniture, or even a 'free' college education if the government lays first claim on the money, can we? That is, is the government is 'borrowing' from those households and corporations when the benificent government comes up 'short' like it has with Social Security, Veteran's Administration and the military? Ms. Warren thinks we're going to crash because of individual and corporate borrowing? But I assume she would stop federal borrowing, too. I mean, sauce for the goose... right? I guess I missed something. Or, maybe I haven't the economic 'chops' that her advisers lay claim to. Seems I hear a lot of this from all candidates: free college education, government takeover of medical care, and the specious argument whether private insurance would end or not. Don't be ridiculous; the government can't allow competition when they have an unlimited pool of coerced money. And to balance it all, make everyone feel good and promise savings for the middle class.

I'm worried about the 'middle class' (not to mention the rest of America, no matter which economic or political end of the spectrum from which we hail, being squeezed and mollified by superficial rhetoric and shallow critical thinking, not to mention what might be termed 'sound-bite intellectual grazing'. Now the 'progressives' (Warren, of course, being only one of the field of both persuasions) are echoing the gold bugs of the nineties, and you know what? The one thing in common is that they all want your money. But, more importantly, the doomsayers of the nineties and today also share another common theme: Fear. You might call it the lingua franca of modern politics and political quest. Be careful, I say, and keep honing your critical thinking. It's become more and more important, and less and less obvious.

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