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Posted on 11/06/2010 11:54:36 PM PDT by Rashputin
What worries me about President Obama is really one general issue: his very concrete enjoyment of the good life as evidenced by his golf outings, Martha Vineyard vacations and imperial entourages that accompany him abroad, and yet his obvious distrust of the private sector and the success of the wealthy. Yet my discomfort here is not even one that arises from an obvious hypocrisy, of, say, a Michelle on the 2008 campaign trail lecturing the nation about its meanness or her own previous lack of pride in her country, juxtaposed with her taste for the publicly provided rarified enjoyments of a Costa del Sol hideaway at a time of recession.
No, my worries run deeper. Apparently, the president is unaware that after some 2,500 years of both experience with and abstract thought about Western national economies, we know that a free, private sector increases the general wealth of a nation, while a statist redistributive state results in a general impoverishment of the population. At the root of that truth is simple human naturethat people wish to further their own interest more fervently than the more abstract public good (e.g., why the renter does not wash the rental car, or why the public restroom is treated differently from its counterpart at home), and can be encouraged to invent, create, and discover that helps the less fortunate, lucky, healthy, or talented.
Texas or California?
We all accept, of course, that the question is not one of a laizze-faire, unchecked robber baron arena, versus a Marxist-Leninist closed economy, but rather in a modern Western liberal state the finer line between a Greece and a Switzerland, or a California and a Texas.
In the former examples, the desire to achieve an equality of result through high taxes, generous public employment, and lavish entitlements destroys incentive in two directionscreating dependency on the part of the more numerous recipients of government largess, and despair among the smaller, but more productive sector that sees the fruits of its labor redistributed to otherswith all the obligatory state rhetoric about greed and social justice that legitimizes such transfers.
In the latter examples, an equality of opportunity allows citizens to create wealth and capital on the assurances that the incentives for personal gain and retention of profits will result in greater riches for all.
Neither Baron Nor Insect
We in America more or less understood that dichotomy, and so neither idolized a Bill Gates or Warren Buffett with titles like Count, Lord, or Baron, nor demonized him with revolutionary spite such as insect, enemy of the people, or even greedy and selfish. Instead, we assumed that Buffett had enriched his investors and more or less could not possibly use all the vast billions he accumulated (he, in fact, lived rather modestly and much of his treasure will probably end up in the Gates Foundation). One way or another, it was worth having Microsoft Word with the expectation that the zillionaire Bill Gates shower is still no hotter than ours, and his private jet goes not much faster than our own cut-rate Southwest Airlines flights. All that seems simple enoughuntil now.
So, again, what troubles me is that the President seems unaware of this old dividethat what allowed the pre-presidential Obamas respectively to make quite a lot of money as a legislator, author, professor, lawyer, or hospital representative was a vibrant private sector that paid taxes on profits that fueled public spending and employment or made possible a vibrant literary and legal world. All that was contingent upon the assurance that an individual would have a good chance of making a profit and keeping it in exchange for the incurring the risk of hiring employees and buying new equipment.
Grows on Trees?
Instead Obama seems to think that making money is a casual enterprise, not nearly so difficult as community organizing, and without the intellectual rigor of academiaas if profits leap out of the head of Zeus. I say that not casually or slanderously, but based on the profile of his cabinet appointments, his and his wifes various speeches relating Barack Obamas own decision to shun the supposed easy money of corporate American for more noble community service in Chicago and a series of troubling ad hoc, off the cut revealing statements like the following:
As a state legislator Barack Obama lamented the Civil Rights movements reliance on the court system to ensure equality of result social justice rather than working through legislatures, which were the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. To Joe Wurzelbacher, he breezily scoffed that My attitude is that if the economys good for folks from the bottom up, its gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, its good for everybody. When Charlie Gibson pressed presidential candidate Obama on his desire to hike capital gains taxes when historically such policies have decreased aggregate federal revenue, a startled Obama insisted that the punitive notion, not the money, was the real issue, Well, Charlie, what Ive said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. And as President Obama, again in an off-handed matter, he suggested that the state might have an interest on what individuals make, I mean, I do think at a certain point youve made enough money.
In other words, for most of his life Barack Obama has done quite well without understanding how and why American capital is created, and has enjoyed the lifestyle of the elite in the concrete as much in the abstract he has questioned its foundations. Does he finally see that the threat of borrowing huge amounts to grow government to redistribute income through higher taxes risks greater impoverishment for all of us, despite the perceived fairness? That suspicion alone explains why trillions of dollars sitting are on the sidelines despite low interest, low inflation, and a rebounding global economy. In short millions of profit-makers believe not only will it be harder to make a profit but far less of it will remain their ownall the while the President will deprecate the efforts of those who simply wish do well. With proverbial friends like those, who needs enemies?
Until that mindset changes and can be seen by the public to change, the recession will not so easily end.
Col. Chris Gibson ran a brilliant campaign in New Yorks 20th Congressional District; although polls had him initially down by a substantial margin, he handily defeated his opponent and now becomes a U.S. Congressmansurely one of the most unique representatives in the House of Representatives: decorated combat veteran, distinguished officer, author, professor, accomplished PhD., and of sterling character. Thanks to readers who followed or donated to his campaign.
From time to time I try to answer charges to set the record straight as carefully as I can sine ira ac studio.
The military correspondent Thomas Ricks recently wrote an off-handed attack on Carnage and Culture, a near decade after its publication and after over 100 reviews had appraised the bookciting the three year old smear by Robert Bateman (e.g., Lt. Col. Bob Bateman, who is both an active-duty officer and an academic with terrific credentials in military history, delivered the coup de grace in a series of articles I hadnt seen until recently (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/11/04/dueling_historians_lt_col_bob_batemans_takedown_of_victor_davis_hanson.) Of course, three years ago I responded at length to Batemans sloppy coup de grace who posted it on the Soros-sponsored Media Matters website, an unscholarly attack that often indulged in the near obscene (e.g., pervert, feces, devil, etc. cf. http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson112207B.html). I think Ricks is probably responding not to a book I authored a decade ago, but to a more recent scholarly review I wrote of his Fiasco that faulted his chronic use of unnamed and anonymous sources in offering a dismal picture of any chance of restoration in Iraq. I hold no animosity toward Ricks, but I still feel that Fiasco was neither a scholarly book nor fair in its use of evidence. Cf. http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson122306.html and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/10/the_pseudohistories_of_the_ira.html
About once a year I reply to some silly ad hominem piece Andrew Sullivan writes. The latest: In reply to a statement from radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt that I had met with President Bush, Sullivan now writes Maybe this doesnt surprise you. But ponder its implications. George W. Bush couldve called any man or woman in the United States to his office to get advice. Anyone in the military, any policy expert, the most knowledgeable American in any industry or field of knowledge. With whom did he apparently spend a lot of time conversing? Hanson, Hewitt, and some other talk radio hosts.
This is adolescent. George Bush was in office nearly 3,000 days. I met with him 4-5 times, always with a group of historians, never one-on-one, rarely on topics only confined to the Iraq War. He often called in dozens of such groups to discuss books, history, and contemporary events. Somehow those visits translate into some wild theory that Bush did not consult hundreds of military analysts, officers, and planners in his thousands of days of governance.
Once again, I confess I do not understand the strange fits of Andrew Sullivan. He once contemplated the use of nuclear weapons against Saddam Hussein; in his Iraq War zealotry he dreamed of a Noble Prize for George Bushonly to level wild charges of war crimes about dozens of American leaders. Later he peddled despicable rumors about the Palin family pregnancies, cruel and completely erroneousand this from someone who in the past had pleaded for understanding and a sphere of privacy concerning his own embarrassing sexual escapades, drug arrest, and serial character lapses. His wildly erratic and often gratuitously mean behavior seems inexplicable and well beneath the norms of just those public figures that he so frequently attacks.
“and now becomes a U.S. Congressmansurely one of the most unique representatives in the House of Representatives: decorated combat veteran, distinguished officer, author, professor, accomplished PhD., and of sterling character.”
that’s exactly what we need more of
” imperial entourages that accompany him abroad, and yet his obvious distrust of the private sector and the success of the wealthy. “
That’s a cover for his Communism. Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin both lived on Capitalist wealth all their lives, yet preached against it. You have to disentangle their double standards, lies, covers and subterfuge to understand them.
Obama says “blue” but does “red”. Talk is a front. Rhetoric.
This was well done by President Bush.