Friday, November 30, 2012

Obama's Great White Whale

You expect politicians to have hackneyed political ideas, and President Obama doesn't disappoint.

It's been obvious all along that his central concern is "inequality" and a post-election piece by Zachary Goldfarb points that up.
As Obama did in legislative fights during his first term, he also will be striving to reduce a three-decades-long wave of rising income inequality that has meant that fewer Americans have prospered while more struggle to get by.
Three decades, you'll note, takes us back to the beginning of the Reagan administration.  It means that the astonishing economic boom of the 1980s and 1990s was a mirage.  It's the basis of  "you didn't build that," of Joe the Plumber and "spread the wealth" and just about everything the president has done.

And the rest of the liberal political culture is not far behind.  That's what all the nostalgia talk about "good jobs at good wages" in the 1950s is all about.  Back then we had big corporations and strong unions and the working stiff made out well.  Today with outsourcing and greedy bankers and vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney the little guy is getting screwed.

That's the liberal line.

The conservative line comes out of people like Charles Murray and his Coming Apart.  The conservative line is that the mechanical liberal administrative welfare state hurts the very people it is supposed to help.  It encourages people in dependency, breaks up families, gives the children of the poor a lousy education, puts government under the thumb of government employee unions and business into the corruption of go-along-to-get-along crony capitalism.  Oh, things are going swimmingly for the cognitive elite, the people that are good at going to school and getting credentials and navigating bureaucratic hierarchies.  But if you are a meat-and-potatoes kind of person, one that learns by doing, and that lives in a face-to-face rather than a memo-to-memo culture--well tough luck for you.

But there's another troubling aspect to this, and it is coming out int he fiscal cliff crisis.  We learn from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that the basic fiscal-cliff proposal from the Obama administration is basically $1.6 trillion in tax increases.  If this is true, it means that the Obamis are not advancing a serious proposal for entitlement reform.  It means that, if there is any entitlement reform, it will be just a bargaining chip in the power struggle between the two factions of our ruling class.

This tells us a lot more than you might think.  Republicans and conservatives would like to reform the government entitlements so that they are self-financing, so that the federal government finances can get onto a long-term balance.  They want to get the government out of the middle of all this.  The Democrats don't.

When the Democrats stopped observing the Budget Control Acts after 2009 they opted for the annual cliff-hanger like the 2011 debt-default crisis, and now the fiscal-cliff crisis.  They are reducing policy to an annual national cage fight.

In my judgment this is a serious betrayal of the "little people," the welfare-state dependents that rely on those government programs.  It shows that the Democrats don't really care about them except for their votes.

Because when the crash comes, Arnold Kling's "sudden stop" when the government has to balance spending and revenue because it can't borrow any more, then the welfare-state dependents are going to be hurt the most: "women and minorities hardest hit" as the headline goes.  Eating the paint off the walls, as the Russians say.

But really, anyone that relies on a government to keep themselves in groceries deserves what they get.  Government is force, politics is for bullies.  If you cast your vote with the bullies, you get what you pay for.

I don't think that President Obama is really interested in the long-term fate of the dependent classes.  He has a facile answer for all that: "inequality."  Just lower the level of struggle for the struggling classes by making the rich pay a little more, and you can make America a better country.

There's another way of putting this.  Just let politicians do what comes naturally, dividing people by income and class and looting the producers to pay off their supporters, says President Obama, and all will be well.

Well.  The whole thrust of modern conservatism since Edmund Burke has been that you surrender society to "sophisters, economists, and calculators" at your peril.  He means, in our modern argot, that society cannot be reduced to system and administrative routine.  We humans are social animals, not mechanical animals.


  1. You sound more like a conservative than someone who is truly an independent (objective) thinker. As a result of this apparent bias I am suspicious of all of the content of this website.

  2. What really bugs me about all this talk, talk, talk and quoting economists and historical data and praising Reagan and Thatcher and trashing Obama - who by the way I think is the biggest fraud after GWB to get to the top and should be put iut to graze ASAP - is that no one is ready to face realities.
    The realities are that we, the people, have totally lost control and even if we had a revolution, which is the way that I would like to see things going, we could not change things, really change things...
    I mean what did bussing achieve for the Blacks, I mean really achieve? Has it stopped Harlem, Washington, Detroit, Brixton or the ghettoes of Paris? No it has not. But there are a few more millionaire Blacks and now a Black President and we whites cannot call them Niggers (it is not PC) so now they call each other Nigger.
    What an improvement. In the end power is, and always has been, consolidated in the hands of a few strong and powerful families and corporations and, of course, the Church, corrupt as ever and getting worse.
    And YES I suppose that people will say about what I write that this is is a "sort of" conspiracy theory except it is not and I prefer to use the term “reality theory”.
    And that “they” will, whatever happens, whether it is Conservative or Labour, Republican or Democrat government or continue to hold all power.
    But now the danger is that “they” have gone global.
    America is beset by religion, unlike Europe where we have chosen to accept the realities of science and Mr Darwin, and needs to grow out of this and face the facts instead of hiding behind the Hoolywood version of life.
    No wonder US Presidents profess religion. It enables them to wage war in the form of a Crusade and murder hundreds of thousands of people, all in the name of God, a fictitious character in a long lost book.
    We need to lose some of this rubbish PC (Politically Correct) bullshit that the US has exported to the whole damn world and GET REAL. We can, could, maybe, solve the problems but to do it we need a benevolent dictator not a GWB and his money grabbing greedy cronies who have ruined things for us all, rich, poor and middle class or a gutless handcuffed Barrack bin Obama.
    What we need is Jesus in a Saville Row suit with a MacBookPro (17 inch of course).