The so-called Sound Barrier was a difficulty encountered by pilots as they approached Mach 1, the speed of sound, usually while diving, during World War II. The airplane typically failed to respond to its controls as it approached this speed, with consequential loss of life. Following the war, and especially with the development of the jet engine, work proceeded on technical improvements in aircraft design based on British break-throughs. Chuck Yeager is credited with being the first pilot to break the sound barrier in level flight in the Bell X-1 on October 14, 1947, while flying at an altitude of 45,000 feet. By the early 1950s, the sound barrier disappeared as aircraft became routinely powered by jet engines, with the introduction of swept wings, and all-moving tails.
These developments notwithstanding, in 1952 a British movie entitled: The Sound Barrier appeared, based on a story by Terence Rattigan. Although the story is fictional, I repeat it here because it is a metaphor for economic policy in the United States at this time. President Obama would do well to think seriously about this tale.
The movie recounts the despair experienced by a young woman whose father and husband became obsessed with aircraft experimentation to break the sound barrier. Her husband is killed in an attempt to fly a jet through the barrier, with the aircraft breaking up as he futilely attempts to pull back on the joy- stick to exit his dive. The more he pulls back on the stick, the more the air pressure pounds the aircraft until finally it implodes.
Notwithstanding this set-back, the young lady’s father resolutely proceeds with his experimentation. Once again a young pilot loses his life as he experiences exactly the same setback at the trough of his dive. In the meantime, the young woman has become attracted to a former wartime RAF ace, who is watching progress on the experimentation. He believes that he successfully navigated the sound barrier while dog-fighting a German plane towards the end of the war.
To the young lady’s horror, he volunteers to confront the barrier. Towards the end of his dive, he pulls back on the joy-stick only to encounter the pounding of his craft. Remembering his reaction while at war, he reverses his response, pushing the joy-stick forward, instead of pulling it backward. His aircraft responds superbly, sweeping through the barrier and taking him to glory.
Readers will now be aware of what I am going to say. Throughout the current economic contraction, the Bush and the Obama administrations have been applying an economic policy that I shall categorize as pulling back on the joy-stick. I urge President Obama to reverse the response, and to allow the ship of state to sweep through the barrier. Specifically, the policy responses should be: (1) tighten the money supply and allow interest rates to rise to market clearing levels; (2) remove mortgage subsidies and allow the house market to move to a swift equilibrium; (3) reduce public expenditures sharply across the board; (4) confirm that tax rates will remain constant for the next several years.
I have no doubt that such a reversal of policies would take President Obama and the U.S. economy through the recession barrier. Unfortunately, I have no doubt that President Obama, and his ill-informed and reckless team of advisers, will ignore this advice, and continue to wreck aircraft after aircraft, until November 2012, when the entire factory disintegrates.