Has Ebola spooked stocks? No, the flailing U.S. government has

Has Ebola spooked stocks? No, the flailing U.S. government has

Branco CDC cartoon.
A typical CDC crisis response, according to Branco. (Via LegalInsurrection.com)*

WASHINGTON, October 16, 2014 — Stocks continue to toss and turn today, for the moment, at least, adding to this week’s utter rout of the averages. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 are attempting to break the market’s massive Wile E. Coyote-style cliff dive at 1:00 p.m. EDT Thursday. But the selling party is likely to make a return visit later this afternoon.

One culprit right now might be big option players squaring their bets (or picking off victims) to wrap up October’s options expiration week festivities that conclude tomorrow.

But there are as many other possible culprits as CNBC’s empty talking suits can dream up. The increasingly manic Jim Cramer blames it on the ongoing Ebola scare, which may be momentarily true. Even Borderline Jim could be onto something here. The government’s utter ineptitude, as exemplified by its potentially catastrophic handling of Ebola victims, has gone way beyond the pale even for this singularly brain-dead administration.

For that reason, we were somehow unsurprised to learn via aggregated web reports this morning (hat tip ZeroHedge) that current CDC head Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, appointed to that post by President Obama in 2010, had stepped up from his earlier post as New York City’s Health Commissioner, where he was “an active policy advocate among the city’s department heads, the outspoken architect of some of the Bloomberg administration’s more controversial policies,” according to an article in the New York Times.

Wait for the double payoff. Big Payoff Number 1:

Although Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is more closely associated with a law that bans smoking citywide, the legislation was actually develop by Dr. Frieden, who was also given responsibility for helping to push it through the City Council.

But wait! There’s more.

Even Mayor Bloomberg’s partnership with Snapple to sell juice in vending machines in schools has not gone without his notice.

‘I would have preferred water,’ [Frieden] admitted, although he added that he liked the money that the agreement will raise.

He is almost certainly the only city agency head who keeps a bowl of condoms in the reception area of his office.

And the Daily Caller reported in 2010:

In 2009, Frieden took to the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine to sell the need for a soda tax. ‘It is difficult to imagine producing behavior change of this magnitude through education alone, even if government devoted massive resources to the task,’ Frieden wrote. “Only heftier taxes will significantly reduce consumption.”

Here’s Big Payoff Number 2. Wait for it:

In 2010, after Obama tapped Frieden to head up the Centers for Disease Control, Bloomberg announced his support for a soda tax. ‘The soda tax is a fix that just makes sense,’ he said in a March 2010 radio address. ‘It would save lives. It would cut rising health care costs.

‘And it would keep thousands of teachers and nurses where they belong: in the classrooms and clinics.’ Three years earlier, Bloomberg said he was opposed to a soda tax.

Yep. Current CDC head Frieden was the culprit behind Nanny Bloomberg’s idiotic, trivial and needless interference with New Yorker’s right to eat and drink whatever the hell they want without having to answer to a government entity. But better battling a Big Gulp than actually spending the taxpayer’s money wisely and making the city run. Who indoctrinates these leftist fascists anyway?

Nanny Bloomberg cartoon.
So the current CDC head was behind Nanny Bloomberg’s failed Big Gulp ban. Clearly the best and brightest are running this country. (William Banzai via Flickr)

Fast forward to earlier this week. As the Ebola crisis continued to build due to the fact that CDC’s so-called “protocols” for handling a potentially disastrous outbreak had utterly failed, Democrats on the Hill and in the Administration did what they do best: they blamed the Republicans, specifically citing Republican budget-cutting for depriving CDC of the necessary research funds that allegedly could have helped combat Ebola in advance of its occurrence here. There’s a real, proactive solution for you.

Yet there’s a problem with that track too, as Michelle Malkin recently discovered:

At $7 billion, the Centers for Disease Control 2014 budget is nearly 200 percent bigger now than it was in 2000. Those evil, stingy Republicans actually approved CDC funding increases in January larger than what President Obama requested.

Money, money, it’s always the money. Yet, while Ebola and enterovirus D68 wreak havoc on our health system, the CDC has been busying itself with an ever-widening array of non-disease control campaigns, like these recent crusades:


Mandatory motorcycle helmet laws. CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden appoints a 15-member “Community Preventive Services Task Force” to promote pet Nanny State projects. An obscure Obamacare rule–Section 4003(b)(1)–stealthily increased the task force’s authority to study “any policies, programs, processes or activities designed to affect or otherwise affecting health at the population level.” Last year, the meddling panel extended the agency’s reach into transportation with a call to impose a federal universal motorcycle helmet law on the country… Why is this the CDC’s business?


Video games and TV violence. At Obama’s behest, in the wake of high-profile school shootings, the CDC scored $10 million last year to study violent video games and media images, as well as to assess “existing strategies for preventing gun violence and identifying the most pressing research questions, with the greatest potential public health impact…” Why is this the CDC’s business?


Playground equipment. The CDC’s “Injury Centers” (Did you know there are 13 of them?) have crafted a “national action plan” and funded countless studies to prevent boo-boos and accidents on the nation’s playgrounds… Why is this the CDC’s business?


“Social norming” in the schools. The CDC has funded studies and campaigns “promoting positive community norms” and “safe, stable, nurturing relationships (SSNRs)” in homes and schools… So bad attitudes are now a disease. Again, I ask: Why is this the CDC’s business?

(Hat tip, Gateway Pundit.)

So much for that argument about not having enough money for Ebola research because of the stingy Republicans.

Remember what Rahm Emanuel said in describing the very definition of Democrat-led politics: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Instead of endeavoring to make up for lost time, the Administration is attempting to bail out of a political and potentially catastrophic health disaster not by attacking the problem with all available resources, but by blaming it on the Republicans.

Which gets us back to Cramer and the markets. The Ebola crisis is merely the tip of the iceberg here when it comes to recognizing Federal government arrogance, overreach and professional competence. CDC head Frieden is clearly one of the countless number of shallow, thoughtless, rich lefties this Administration has consistently appointed to key posts where they deploy billions of taxpayer dollars not to where they may be needed the most, but to the individuals, unions and giant corporations that support their boss’ re-election.

Virtually all of these less-than-public-servants are incompetent ideologues incapable of running anything, except for running off their mouths promoting useless policies; or, in the case of Frieden’s CDC, idiotic, meddling research projects and studies whose ultimate aim is not life-saving science but straightforward payoffs to loyal supporters who need research grants to maintain their high standard of living at taxpayer expense. Who cares if these projects do anything to help the taxpaying public that’s paying for them? Ultimately, if something doesn’t work, though, blame those nasty, rich Republicans. (Bush is apparently getting a pass these days.)

Beyond Jim Cramer and his oversimplifications, the government’s amateurish, potentially disastrous response to the building Ebola crisis is pretty much the last straw for rational individuals who may once have thought that the Federal government was the place where wise men and women could be relied upon to solve every problem and improve our lives for us each and every day.

Agency by agency, all these benevolent govies−from the boobs running the VA, to the snoops at NSA, to conservative-hating bumblers and amnesty cheerleaders at Homeland Security, to the mindless global warmists at NASA and NOAA, to the empty suit now heading CDC−have led rational people to conclude that the government is, in fact, destroying the country with its reckless incompetence.

All this has led to a rapidly building crisis of confidence. That mood has now descended on Wall Street, which questions whether the Administration in general (or the Federal Reserve in particular) has any idea whatsoever for restoring a genuine, functional capitalist economy without running the money-printing presses 24/7. The answer seems to be a resounding NO. And that—rather than just the Ebola danger—has got individual and institutional investors alike scared transparent.

Hence, the continuing violence on Wall Street. With the VIX volatility index spiking to levels not seen since circa 2011, with nearly all stocks plummeting, and with current IPOs—like this morning’s Atara Biotherapeutics (ATRA)—tanking instantaneously, investors large and small seem to be pulling money out of the market in mass quantities (or simply losing it if they’re on margin) and stuffing it in their mattresses or heaven knows where.

Until and unless October’s multiple crises begin to settle down, the market will stay this way or get worse, whatever Jim Cramer may think.

It’s not just Ebola. Investors and everyday citizens alike are beginning to understand that they’re facing an existential crisis unless they take control of their lives back from our feckless Federal government. But since no one has done that since 1776, no one exactly knows how. Yet if someone doesn’t learn how to do it, and soon, this week’s market action will look like pre-school when compared to what lies ahead.

It’s time for the adults to send the partygoers home.

*(Cartoon above by Branco, via LegalInsurrecion.com. Reproduced with acknowledgment, by permission.)

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17