9.02.2010

Ron Johnson's Gaffes

Ron Johnson is not a politician. It is painfully obvious that he is not used to media scrutiny. He has the unfortunate habit of saying some slightly sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek comments that liberals and those in the media find horribly offensive.

First it was the comment about Greenland actually having been green. The liberals in the Blogosphere O' Cheese went nuts about it. How dare someone be so cavalier in their opinions of global warming. The problem is that part of it was sarcasm - as Cindy rightly points out. The thing is that Johnson is right. A thousand years ago Vikings were able to raise significant amounts of livestock and support many settlements on the island, though the climate today makes that nearly impossible.

Now there's his comments about the business climate being more predictable in communist China than the United States. Here's the thing, though, if you listen to the interview it is pretty clear that Johnson is again showing some sarcasm in his comments. If you take his comments in full, it seems that he is pointing out that with the new 2,000 plus page health care bill and the 2,000 plus page financial reform bill - together with the prospect of cap and trade and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts - the business climate in the US is far less predictable than a repressive communist nation.

I believe it's called irony.

True, Johnson said it a bit clumsily. No, it wasn't the best analogy he could offer. But he makes a good point. When we pass legislation that is thousands of pages long without reading them - like Russ Feingold did with both the health care and financial reform bills - we create incredible amounts of uncertainty. Right now, business owners have no idea what is going to happen. If the Republicans pull off a complete sweep, they might make huge rollbacks in the implementation of the current reforms. If the Democrats hold on to even slim majorities they may feel that they have received a vindication of their policies and double down.

One of the biggest problems right now is that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have gone so far, so fast, that no one knows for certain what is going to happen when the new laws are fully implemented. For crying out loud, we have to wait until 2013 or 2014 to find out what the health care bill will do.

That makes it pretty darn hard to make decisions about business investment. Ron Johnson was pointing that out, and I guess I can't blame liberals for jumping on him - it is their policies that got us here after all.