Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama "Heavy"

Obama "lite" was all about messianic change - equality, fraternity and perpetual hope for all of America's citizens and non-citizens.

Now - courtesy of the financial crisis - we are getting a large dose of Obama "heavy:" bigger government and increased taxes for the wealthy. A perfect ploy to rustle up votes amongst the masses. Could Obama have been (re-)skimming through Karl Marx on his sojourn from sunny Hawaii to Chicago's South Side?

Obama seems to sincerely want to improve the lot of America's poor and its middle class. In doing so, he will not be able to prevent spreading the government's largesse to those who prefer laziness or stasis to hard work and dynamism, who prefer handouts to sweating up the success ladder like the many immigrant minorities that pass by America's poor with remarkable speed. What's more, he cannot prevent illegal immigrants and incarcerated criminals from sharing in the booty as well.

Obama clearly thrives on the adulation of the crowd, the endless accolades of the majority. Eva Peron did, as does Chavez - this seems to be the essential commonality among populist power brokers, particularly those of the left.

Obama believes, it seems, that America's capitalistic pot is static in size and structure. Tax the wealthy, spread those riches amongst the poor and voila, equality is born again. And the magician gets roses strewn in his every path for his magnificent sleight of hand.

Except that much of this fungible cash, these gifts from the god(s), will be used for TVs, for consumer items and ephemeral pleasures. They will ultimately end up in the coffers of many Chinese exporters and Asian factories, with governments who compete aggressively with us and - in the case of the Chinese - who wish us ill.

Moreover, the wealthy will transfer much of their remaining wealth to lower tax havens and countries (most of the rest of the world by now); they will be less able or motivated to open factories, invest in new projects and build American enterprises. Jobs will be lost rather than gained; salaries too will be compromised. It is a law of simple economic gravity - reduce the economic pot at the top end and this reduction will flow downwards, in a very democratic fashion.

And so the opportunities of advancement, of increased wages, bonuses and jobs for the poor and the middle classes will be substantially reduced, replaced by big government handouts, given even to those 40% of Americans who do not pay income taxes. [By contrast, it is often thought - in non-socialist circles, at least - that the most effective way to engineer responsible and participatory citizenship of all America's peoples would be to tax these 40 percent by a token amount, from 5 to 7.5%. Increased pensions, unemployment and medical insurance could be the state's side of the quid pro quo.]

Initially, Obama's popularity will soar: most people, like politicians, are short-term actors: they evaluate based only on their next week or month, not their next year or decade. And yet America's culture of entrepreneurship, her hard won individuality and success will suffer. We will become more like Old and Eastern Europe just as they both race to become like the America of old - a place where small government facilitated big individuals, where the welfare state was supplanted by democratic opportunity and capitalistic inventiveness. This was the New World where hard work could win anybody a stake in the American dream.

Obama knows better than anyone how to appeal to the masses, how to promise nirvana, how to spin an enticing web of popularity. He is a political master, a genius in grassroots motivation and organizational base building. He is the ultimate populist.

I fear though, that in spite of his inordinate intelligence, he does not yet get "Economics 101." I fear he denies the inevitable and harsh differences between all of us, including - perhaps most dangerously - the difference between America and those countries and dictators who would love to see the end of our freedoms and the demise of our greatness.

I fear we will become more like Old Europe - passive, socialist, recessive and cowardly. Ironically, large swaths of Old Europe and Eastern Europe are now trying to be more like us. They are reducing taxes, controlling big government, inspiring hard work and entrepreneurship. The Eastern Europeans in particular have learnt well history's harsh lessons of socialism, curtailment of freedoms and economic decay.

They get it; Obama does not.

Published on SlantRight

Published on The Absurd Report

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