Originally in American Thinker, November 13, 2010.
President Obama called the Democrats’ November 2 loss of sixty-one House seats a “shellacking.” Yet in a day-after press conference, Obama sported a self-absorbed manner, contrived reflection, and a basic misread of the American people. In a “60 Minutes” interview aired four days later, he denied that voters had repudiated his agenda. The president doesn’t understand why a center-right nation would reject a left-wing Obama. This man will not “move to the center.”
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In early 2008, Senator Obama accused businesses of having cultures “rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed.” Only ten months shy of establishing a federal regime rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and greed, the senator also warned that America’s “real problem is … that the corporation you work for will ship [your job] overseas for nothing more than a profit.”
Obama’s implicit suggestion that companies should bleed dollars to keep people employed revealed his blindness to economic reality. The practice of demonizing capitalists and the free market has become an Obama favorite. So goes the “progressive” mentality. So goes Barack Obama.
Obama destroys. Wearing the cape of savior, he destroys the resolve of people seeking to be saved. Abusing the office of president, Obama destroys American prosperity. He genuinely believes that government creates wealth. But Obama’s policies and pontifications scare the hell out of the machine that creates all wealth: private enterprise.
The president makes a show of caring about private enterprise, about people. But he is in love with big government, with ideas. Almighty central planning is progressivism’s dearest idea. Barack Obama’s idea, too. Obama clings to the notion that government legislates progress. He cannot see that society progresses when doers do profitable things that improve people’s lives, an endeavor called “business.” Remove the profit motive, and action fades. Without action, no business. Without business, no progress. Yet Obama doesn’t get it. Our president is an ideologue.
Since 1900, in America as in Europe, progressive ideologues like Obama have dominated a ruling class that focuses government on one overarching pursuit: political patronage. Today, snowballing organizations like George Soros’s Open Society Institute and Tides Foundation, “green” advocacy groups; climate alarmists; social, economic, and environmental justice zealots; multiculturalism preachers; and victimhood-mongers of all kinds vie for government backing to push agendas.
In Bought and Paid For, Charlie Gasparino shows how the chummiest kowtowers to Obama’s favor, Wall Street “fat cats,” push agendas of personal profit. The president’s rhetoric and policies ooze contempt for the general idea of business, but business writ large across Lower Manhattan draws only pseudo-threats that camouflage friendly policies. The double standard subjects honest, traditional, small-business entrepreneurs to a baked-in disadvantage: omission from Obama’s corporatist gift list.
Corporatism does create prosperity, but mainly for businesses that play the game. Widespread prosperity arises when anyone with a legal business idea gets an unimpeded shot at trying out that idea in the marketplace without playing games. Entrepreneurs must be free to direct talent and money into products and services that people want.
Today’s business leaders instead navigate a maze of flagrant political patronage tailored to accommodate a chosen few. Among the few are the Wall Street fat cats, as well as “green” and “alternative energy” interests. EPA overregulation will, for instance, force consumers to buy green electricity at jacked-up prices and pay mark-ups on anything that requires electricity to produce — in other words, everything.
Barack Obama presides over this abuse while hyping the need for vision, the need to help fellow Americans. The opposite side of the presidential mouth vilifies visionary people whose business revenues do help Americans by providing jobs. Obama paints these traditional business people as coldhearted, bigoted, nature-hating Ebenezer Scrooges. What else could traditionalists be? Anyone opposing the visionary, compassionate, planet-saving Obama is obviously a Neanderthal.
The president locks out Neanderthals. The presidential network accommodates only enlightened beings who push, Kool-Aid drinkers who accept, and savvy partners who profit from fundamental transformation. It will be no surprise when Obama keeps the unenlightened Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, on the fringes of the network. Barack Obama will tolerate nothing resembling Republican accomplishments over the next two years.
Neither will the president mothball his anti-business ideology. The stunting economic effects will be insidious. Markets create maximum wealth when businesspeople move about freely, developing and ending relationships across various social networks. In those networks lie common interests, and in the interests, needs. When entrepreneurs decide to fulfill the needs, businesses are born. Entrepreneurs benefit. Networks benefit. Other entrepreneurs replicate the process. Society thrives. Prosperity grows.
Barack Obama abhors this natural order.
Obama the progressive views himself as a socioeconomic engineer. Although the free market’s health depends on government respecting citizens’ right to freely and randomly associate with each other, our control-obsessed president cannot stand for something so serendipitous derailing his brilliantly planned economy. Progressives know better. Progressives must dictate. The free market’s smooth functioning also depends on respect for the rule of law. But Obama displays staggering disregard for the law. The president has anointed dozens of policy-making “czars” accountable only to him. Halting America’s fundamental transformation now hinges on the GOP finding ways to stop vast amounts of czar-initiated backdoor regulation.
If Barack Obama cares about being reelected, he might try something new: admitting his faults. The president might reflect on how he contributed to two years of economic misery, caused the electoral slaughter of his political party, and lost the trust of Americans, who said, “No, no, no!” as he kept saying, “Yes we can!” He might try adopting the proposals of Capitol Hill conservatives and setting America’s businesses free. The private sector will produce an economic recovery for which ideologue Obama would take credit. The president’s drool-soaked media toadies would eagerly sell the claim.
But Obama is an ideologue — and a man addicted to demonizing his opponents. So the president will play ugly games with a recharged GOP. He will agree to extend the Bush tax cuts. But the left-winger will cling to left-wing dogma and choose ever sneakier routes that will burden American business. The ideologue and his czars and agency bosses will try to circumvent Congress and the Constitution to bring about state-controlled capitalism.
God give the Republicans the courage to rediscover integrity and sane economic principle. For the sake of Americans living today and Americans not yet born, may voters continue to awaken between now and November 2012 and finish the purge that was started in November 2010.