I was impressed by this comparison with Gordon Brown's repeated insistence that it is better of him to be doing something to end the recession than of the Conservatives alleged refusal to do anything. In fact they aren't that much better.
The problem is this: It’s hard to claim credit for the vitality of the market. Politicians claim credit for DOING things.
Imagine you had a six-year-old daughter, and that she has a high fever. It’s 1820, and we don’t understand germs or fevers very well. You call the doctor, and the doctor comes to the house. “Please, do something. DO SOMETHING, and help my daughter,” you say.
The doctor takes out a lancet, and makes a small incision in your daughter’s wrist. The theory was that the fever was in the blood itself, and “bleeding” was the only treatment that people in 1820 knew.
It doesn’t work. Your daughter’s fever is still very high. So, you tell the doctor, “DO SOMETHING! You are the doctor.”
The doctor bleeds her some more. And she dies.
And the next day you blame the doctor for not bleeding her MORE and SOONER. But bleeding was the wrong thing to do.
This stimulus is the wrong thing to do. The fact that the first round didn’t work leads me to think we need to stop! But all the desperate economic parents out there say, DO IT MORE! DO IT LONGER! DO IT FAST!
Bloodletting as medicinal practice lasted from at least ancient Mesopotamian times to the mid 19thC,
at which point modern medicine started developing procedures that actually worked. Not a cheerful precedent.