The key phrase in President Obama’s acceptance speech was this:
I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear.
You elected me to tell you the truth.
And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.
This claim displays the sad obliviousness of a well-intended, but apparently befuddled man making a very hollow promise. Getting the policy mixture right would lead to a return to economic vibrancy quickly, perhaps even immediately. This columnist has cited an example of this before. It is so startling, and heartening, it bears repeating.
German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, the architect of the post-war German economic miracle, quoted this in the chapter entitled “Birth of the Market Economy” in his classic Prosperity Through Competition:
The big chance for Germany came in 1948: it depended on linking the currency reform with an equally resolute economic reform, so as to end once and for all the whole complex of State controls of the economy-from production to the final consumer-which, following in the wake of the people’s nonsensical demands, had lost all touch with reality. Today few can realize how much courage and sense of responsibility were needed for such a step. Some time later two Frenchmen, Jacques Rueff and Andre Piettre, summed up the combination of economic and currency reform thus: