Tuesday, July 9, 2013

President Obama's Accidental Achievement

On coming into office, President Obama told us that he planned on "fundamental transformation."  I wrote yesterday that fundamental transformation is a progressive conceit.  And anyway, Obama is failing in his fundamental transformation, big time.

He has utterly failed to be a "post-racial" president.  Instead he has ginned up racial division.  He has utterly failed to improve health care.  Instead he has created a "train wreck."  He has utterly failed to make government more transparent.  Instead he has led an administration that is notably non-transparent and notably quick to use the federal bureaucracy to intimidate the president's opponents.

And that leaves out the stupidity of the stimulus, the hyper-regulation of Dodd-Frank, the chimera of climate change.

So liberals will probably get their "fundamental transformation."  Only it won't be the kind they were planning on.

Instead of the endless liberal moral melodrama featuring endless liberal Scarlett O'Haras, we are more likely to get an age of Rhett Butler: the age of I don't give a damn.

On race, there's a good chance that the president's race hustling will finally provoke the end of white guilt.  After the beer summit and the Trayvon Martin case, it's time to say, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

On health care, there's a good chance that the president's mendacious promises and incompetent rollout on Obamacare will create room for some practical reform, moving away from highly regulated first-dollar coverage towards HSA-type catastrophic coverage and transparent pricing.  In other words, letting Americans decide what they want to pay for out of their own pockets with a decent provision for the old and the poor.

On the economy, there's a good chance that the hyper-political hyper-regulatory follies of the last decade will be so discredited that we can do some sensible reform: reversing the cheap money, high borrowing for the federal government and switching to hard money and spending cuts.  And the demolition of Sarbox and Dodd-Frank wouldn't hurt.

On climate change, there's a good chance that the Ruling Class's obsession with carbon dioxide will collapse as the science proves to be a lot less settled than we were told, and the crony capitalist scandals of green energy discredit the whole effort.

Back in the 2000s Judis and Teixeira were boasting of an Emerging Democratic Majority.  My guess is that it will evaporate in 2014 and 2016.  Why?  Because the Obama Democrats failed to show a bright future to the women, minorities and young people that they captivated in the 2000s with the promise of hope and change.

The truth is that they had it in their grasp.  If Obama had really brought the end of race politics, if he had done an Obamacare that featured a bipartisan compromise, if he had curbed the stimulus, and pushed a less regulatory Dodd-Frank, he might now be leading an America bursting with hope and confidence.

But he didn't.  That's because neither he nor the elite liberal ruling class has a vision beyond the idea of ruling and administering the United States like a feudal estate.  They, the ruling class, are the guys with the ideas and the power. We, the country class, should shut up and do what we are told.

George Gilder is just the latest to tell us why the liberal way doesn't work.  In Knowledge and Power he argues that humans advance by surprise and learning.  People come up with new ideas that nobody thought of before.  And then they learn how to apply the idea to society: the fabled learning curve.  Think the last two centuries starting with the Industrial Revolution.

But the liberal vision is one of revolution and stasis.  The idea is to set up an administrative system with a political reform and then sit back and let it run.  We know what happens when you do that.  You get a sterile system that slowly runs down and dies.

The recurring story of the last two centuries is that the way to flourish is to surrender to the process.  Come up with a good idea instead of going with the flow.  Think of serving others first rather than grabbing for your share.  But the truth is that we are all afraid.  We want to be sure that we get our share; we worry that we won't have anything valuable to contribute.  And so we gum up the works with force and rigid system.  And fight over a shrinking pie.

We can do better, and with the ruin of his administration President Obama may be clearing the way to a better future.

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