Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obama at Galesburg, IL

Everyone has been panning Obama's Galesburg speech.  But what did he actually say?  I've been going over the transcript so you don't have to.

He was telling, as he should, a story.  Here's the problem.  It's
proud Maytag workers losing their jobs when the plant moved down to Mexico... teachers whose salaries weren’t keeping up with the rising cost of groceries...  Of young people who had the drive and the energy, but not the money to afford a college education.   
Back in the old days, there was "a sense that your hard work would be rewarded with fair wages and decent benefits, the chance to buy a home, to save for retirement, and most of all, a chance to hand down a better life for your kids."  But now, with, technology, outsourcing and weaker unions, it's over.

Used to be that with increased productivity, workers would share the benefit. No more. The 1% income quadrupled; ordinary family got bupkus.  And now the housing bubble, with its juiced up finance, has burst.

But now we've fought our way back from the Great Recession and
we saved the auto industry; took on a broken health care system.  (Applause.)  We invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil.  We doubled wind and solar power.  (Applause.)  Together, we put in place tough new rules on the big banks, and protections to crack down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies...  [and] we locked in tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, and we asked those at the top to pay a little bit more.
We've made a good foundation but we are not there yet.  In fact things like inequality have gotten worse, due to things like "Washington" and the sequester. It's harmed growth and "our military.  It's gutted investments in education and science and medical research."

So what's he going to do?  Here are the bullet points:
  • "We’re going to continue to focus on strategies to make sure our tax code rewards companies that are not shipping jobs overseas"
  • "good jobs in wind and solar and natural gas"
  • "open more manufacturing innovation institutes"
  • "building things" like ports, bridges.  Rebuilding "our transportation systems... our power grids... our communications networks"
  • Education: universal preschool; connect students to internet, "redesigning our high schools", "train workers for changing jobs", student loan fixes, "shake up the [college] system"
  • Mortgage refinance for "every homeowner".
  • Tax reform: "make it easier for workers to put away money"
  • Poverty: rebuild run-down neighborhoods, increase minimum wage
Then the president does a sell job on Obamacare.

It all comes down, he says, to the "good job with decent wages and benefits, a good education, home of your own, retirement security, health care security".

You can see why the reviews aren't too good.  All this stuff is silly small ball, trying to plug the leak in the dyke.  It shows, if anything can, that we have come to the end game of the liberal administrative state.

But let us back up and look at his shining vision, of decent wages, education, home ownership, retirement, health care.

Why in the world would anyone think that a politician and his experts could do a better job than thousands of business owners and millions of consumers?  Let's do our own bullet points.
  • Sure, you can legislate decent wages and benefits.  But first you need  entrepreneurs with new ideas.  And because of capitalism's "creative destruction" you need generation after generation of entrepreneurs, all the time.  No entrepreneurs, no ideas: no wages and benefits.
  • Education?  It is government's dead hand that has caused the crisis in education.  We still have the system that experts designed in the 1830s to teach literacy and industrial discipline to the children of immigrants.  And now literacy is collapsing in the inner cities.  We must take education away from government.
  • Home ownership?  It's the government meddling that caused the crisis.  Canada has never had a mortgage interest deduction, never had Fannie and Freddie. Yet they have a greater percentage of homeowners than we do.
  • Retirement security?  How about government getting out of the credit markets and stopping its policy of inflation so that ordinary Americans can save from their wages, get a decent 3-4 percent interest, and see their capital keep its value.  When government keeps mucking around with the credit system it always ends up wiping out the small saver.
  • Health care?  It's the government's clumsy interventions that have ruined health care.  Imagine: if government got out of the game then health care could be like Walmart: everyday low prices for the bargain shopper.  And there would still be plenty of room for pricey boutique health care for the fashionable and the well to do.
The good thing is that President Obama daily reminds us how bankrupt our liberal ruling class has become.  The bad thing is that he is flying millions of good Americans up a box canyon with his fantasies of wonderful government programs that will deliver the good jobs, education, retirement and health care that everyone wants.

Government is force; it always comes down to men with guns.  How is more force going to provide a good job for every American?

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