Bruce Ivins, Credibility, and our Financial Markets

August 9, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Something kept bothering me the other day as I listened to an interview on NPR discussing the evidence in the Bruce Ivins anthrax case.

I thought about it and thought about it and then it hit me what it was: I didn’t believe the story.

Now bear with me for a second. Because I’m not going to argue that Bruce Ivins is innocent. Whether he is innocent or guilty is not even the topic under discussion.

What I’m trying to get at is a larger problem with our government and that is credibility.

Over the past 8 years, the amount of credibility our government has has sharply declined as the difference between what the government is telling the people and what the government is actually doing has increased.

Briefly, let me list just a few of the occasions where the government has deceived the American people:

And a few more:

And I’m not even getting into Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, “no bid” contracts, and the culture of corruption in Washington.

The evidence reveals much about the motivation of the Bush White House which can chiefly be described as:

  1. Grab as much power as possible using whatever means possible
  2. Deceive the public into thinking you are trying to do “good”

Now the trouble with this strategy is if you lie and spin and deceive the public enough, eventually at least some of the truth will get out and people will lose trust in what you are saying.

This is partly why I have trouble believing.

The circumstantial evidence seems damning. Yet it is only circumstantial.

And Internet postings obsessing over the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority simply make you unusual, not an anthrax mailer.

Might a government capable of forging information to draw us into a War in Iraq also forge circumstantial evidence to make it look like they had caught a top terrorist in an election year?

Now, let me step back just a bit. Because I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking there’s no evidence to show the government was involved in framing Bruce Ivins. I agree absolutely.

But bear with me for a second. Remember this isn’t about whether Bruce is innocent or guilty. That’s not what I’m arguing about. I’m arguing that I don’t have confidence in the government’s case because I believe that government agents may be facing so much political pressure that they might be capable of doing almost anything in order to show they are effective in fighting terrorism.

Time and time again, this administration has proved it is willing to lie and this is why my confidence in the government is at an all-time low.

Grab power and lie to the people. That has been the hallmark of the federal government in recent years.

So to restate, what I am arguing is that our government is destroying their credibility by lying to the public and that destroying this credibility has consequences. One of the consequences is that in a valid terrorism case, people may not believe that they aren’t just lying again.

Whenever I listen to administration officials, I imagine how the employees of Enron must have felt as they started to discover the disconnect between what top executives were saying and what was actually happening.

Now, you ask, how does this relate to our financial markets?

I’m glad you asked. Money is a promise. It has no implicit value like a commodity such as fruit. Money is simply an agreed upon intermediary between two or more parties.

Both parties agree that a dollar or a Franc or a Pound is worth a certain amount and then money becomes a currency. This value is determined by traders in the markets of the world.

When confidence is lost in the value of currency, the currency collapses. The best example of this recently is Zimbabwe where a $50 million bill would buy a loaf of bread.

The assault on our government by neo-conservatives and their reckless financial policies have combined to drop the value of the dollar and to cause worldwide investors to lose confidence in America.

To regain credibility, progressives should be arguing for more transparency in our government and an objective media. The objective media was one of the checks and balances that helped instill confidence in our government. We knew the government was telling the truth because if they weren’t the media would find out, people would put pressure on the government, and the government would get it’s act together.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case anymore. The past administration has proved that through an effective disinformation campaign, they can weather the storm of scandals and continue with their power grab.

To help restore credibility in our government, I’d suggest 3 things:

  1. Vote for candidates who will fight for honest and effective government
  2. Keep the pressure on your local media to be “objective” by writing letters when articles simply repeat what one party or the other says without any facts (NOTE: Objective does not mean an equal distribution of Republican talking points and an equal distribution of Democratic talking points. Objective means based on facts.
  3. When you talk about politics within your sphere of influence, frame the issue as “what we need is good government, not wasteful, corrupt government.”