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Credit Where It’s Not Due

Credit Where It’s Not Due

By John Silveira

December 6, 1999

Over the holidays I spoke with a fellow named Joe. I hadn’t seen him in a year. He’s a programmer, and a good one from what I hear. He’s spent the last few years doing contract work cleaning up Y2K issues at banks and other businesses. We drank coffee (black), caught up on a year of news (uneventful), told jokes (good ones), talked about Y2K (most businesses are ready, many government agencies are not, he said), and discussed the general state of the world (it’s good).

Clinton’s name came up. Joe said, “I don’t like him, but he must be doing something right. He’s got the economy running better than it’s ever been.”

“Do you think he’s responsible for it?” I asked.

“How else do you explain it?”

“What’s so good about it?” I asked.

“It’s booming.”

“All of it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Coke, Pfizer, Texaco, General Motors: they’re not booming. Some of their stock prices may be high, but they’re not booming.”

“The tech companies are booming,” he said.

It was what I wanted to hear. “They are. And according to a guy named Harry Dent, who wrote The Coming Boom and The Roaring 2000s, the economic boom is a combination of demographics, computers, and the Internet: the baby boomers are in their peak spending years, computers are making companies more efficient, and the Internet is revolutionizing how business is conducted.”

“That sounds about right.”

“Dent predicted this boom back in 1992 when most analysts were predicting doom and gloom. Do you think Clinton’s responsible for the Baby Boom Generation?”

Joe didn’t respond.

“Is the Republican Congress responsible for it? Are any of them—the President or Congress—responsible for computers? Did they create or make available the Internet?”

He nodded and said, “I see what you mean.”

“In fact Clinton’s Justice Department is trying to break up Microsoft, one of the companies driving this boom. And both the Republicans and the Democrats are trying to control the Internet. They want to tax it, censor it, and regulate it.”

He nodded.

“So if neither Clinton nor the Congress are responsible for computers, the Internet, or the Baby Boom, then this boom was going to occur no matter who was in office. But they’re all going to try to take credit for it—President and Congress. And since the news media is mostly liberal, they’re going to lap it up when the Democrats claim it.”

Joe took a drink of his coffee.

“If you want to apportion credit,” I said, “thank Bill Gates, Steven Jobs, and your parent’s generation for having so many kids. But most of all thank yourself. It’s people like you—the programmers, computer technicians, and people at companies who adopted computers and made their businesses run more efficiently who are responsible. Clinton and the Congress, with their economic policies, regulations, and taxes are just in the way.”

Joe reached over his shoulder and patted himself on the back. Then he took a drink of his coffee and smiled.