The Corner

The one and only.

What It Takes


Over the last few years, I’ve asked a variety of people, “Do you think the U.S. economy will recover?” In a better mood, I’ve asked, “When will the U.S. economy recover?” Many people have said something like, “You can’t keep the American people down forever. No matter how wrongheaded the government is, the American people will rise. They are too inventive and industrious not to do so.”

Well, at the beginning of Impromptus today, I quote Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister of Canada. Speaking in New York the other week, he said,

I’m an enormous admirer of this country, and I have enormous faith in the ability of the American people, and particularly the American business community, to always find opportunity, always seize it, and always create a better future. That’s been the history of this country. I think it requires a helluva lot of effort by everybody in Washington to make that not true. And I just don’t think they can sustain that kind of effort indefinitely, so . . .

Don’t you love “particularly the American business community”? Would a Democrat ever say that? I mean, except about Solyndra or something?

I myself thought the 2012 election would be the hinge — the beginning of our recovery. I thought the American people would see fit to elect Romney and Ryan. We would then curtail spending, reform entitlements, lighten regulation, get the energy at our disposal, etc. But no: The American people did not see fit to elect Romney and Ryan, and wanted Obama and Biden for another four years instead. Okay, we’ll have to recover with these weights around our ankles. We can still run.

Thinking about all this, I had a memory of the 1980 campaign. Indulge me. Reagan, I believe, said that we were in a depression. President Carter said this was nonsense: We are in a recession, not a depression (which was, of course, right). Reagan had fun with this, developing a line. He repeated it at every campaign stop. The traveling press, sick of it, repeated it along with him.

Reagan said, “If President Carter wants a definition, I’ll give him one. A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job. Recovery begins when Jimmy Carter loses his job.”

The crowd would go bananas.

One more thing: Last week, I quoted a European businessman who said the salvation of the American economy would be oil extracted from shale. A reader then sent me a slice of Atlas Shrugged, which I quote in today’s column. The character Ellis Wyatt says,

Oil shale. How many years ago was it that they gave up trying to get oil from shale, because it was too expensive? Well, wait till you see the process I’ve developed. It will be the cheapest oil ever to splash in their faces, and an unlimited supply of it, an untapped supply that will make the biggest oil pool look like a mud puddle. Did I order a pipe line? Hank, you and I will have to build pipe lines in all directions . . .

I’ve talked to enough people to know, or believe, that, if the government agrees to get out of the way, we’ll be splashin’ rich.