On the eve of Presidents Day and in the middle of income tax season, it seems fitting to identify the president who started this nightmare, as well as the subsequent presidents and their own various nightmares. In chronological order, the five worst recent presidents are:
1. Woodrow Wilson
Wilson gave us the dreaded income tax code. He also gave us the Federal Reserve Board. This is the organization that observed a recession similar to the ones that annoyed us in 1906, 1965, and 2000. They made the wrong decisions and turned that recession into the Great Depression.
Philosophically, Wilson gave us the concept of the Living Constitution. In his mind, the constitution is whatever society wants it to be. What exactly is that? Nobody knows. This means that you do not get to know what the law is until the moment when the judge sentences you.
2. Franklin Roosevelt
In addition to the damage done by the Federal Reserve Board, Roosevelt put the Great in the Great Depression. He also started the Social Security Ponzi scheme that plagues us today, 80 years later.
Philosophically, Roosevelt gave us the idea that government spending is the first resort when fixing problems. Now, we have lots of government spending and lots of government problems.
3. Lyndon Johnson
Johnson prosecuted a war so incompetently that he caused 58,000 American soldiers to die. He also started an enormous amount of government spending under the dubious name Great Society. It caused disincentives to work as well as to get married before having children. The result was so many illegitimate children that people dare not use the word bastard because it describes so many people. Johnson started several cabinet level departments that just will not go away 50 years later. He gave us many ticking time bombs.
4. Jimmy Carter
Like many presidents, Carter wanted to solve a problem and made it worse. He noticed that college tuition was too high for people without summer jobs to afford. He instituted a lending program that made it easier for students to get long term loans. Students were then able, and unfortunately willing, to borrow enormous amounts of money and send the money to the college of their choice. Naturally, the colleges raised their prices. Now, these former students have college degrees that cannot help them find jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Carter saw that scientists were working on fast breeder nuclear reactors. These reactors recycle their fuel rods several times. They produce more energy and far less nuclear waste. The way that Carter saw these reactors is that the waste can be used to make nuclear bombs. Carter, apparently contemptuous of Americans, did not trust such waste in our hands, so he put a stop to this avenue of research. Now, we have too much nuclear waste and former Senator Harry Reid prevented a nuclear waste storage facility from being built. Ultimately, we will need to solve this problem by shutting down our nuclear power plants. Coal fired power plants were attacked by the next president on this list. This shows how multiple bad presidents can cause far more damage than either one of them alone.
Philosophically, Carter was such a wimp that he garnered no respect. Carter summed up the resulting mood of the nation with the expression “National Malaise.” At the time of his National Malaise speech, his wimpiest days were ahead of him (see Iran Hostage Crisis).