Monday, February 09, 2009

President as extortionist?

I'm still praying for Obama, but for how long can Americans put up with a president who, instead of injecting some optimism, and/or sense of discipline, into the economy, is actively talking it down? What is he afraid of? Is he simply afraid that his "porkulus" bill to "stimulate" the economy through a trillion or so dollars of spending on leftist bureaucracies and unionized businesses might not pass without major changes? Or is his desire even more sinister? What is the narrative he is trying to create for future use with talk like this?
Obama Warns of 'Irreversible' Crisis: The Associated Press

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Making his case in the most dire terms, President Barack Obama said that if Congress does not quickly pass an economic stimulus package, the nation will slip into a crisis so deep that "we may be unable to reverse" it.

"We can't afford to wait. We can't wait to see and hope for the best," Obama said in Elkhart, Ind., a community reeling in job losses during the recession that has defined his young presidency. "We can't posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us in into this mess in the first place."


Dag said...

Obama has no historical sense: He's quoted recently as saying he wants to restore relations between America and the Islamic world to what they were 20 or 30 years ago, which, if my memory is passable, tells me that that's when our embassy was held hostage by the Iranian Revolution. When the PLO was bombing and HAMAS was beginning to follow suit. When Regan pulled out our troops from Lebanon. When Somali jihadis were dragging our troops through the streets of Mogadishu. And so on. But there's the important pat to consider:

That there has never been a time of good relations with Islam and America. For the first years of American independence we have been uner attack from Islam, fisrt in the form of the Barbary pirates, the people who caused Jefferson to reluctantly form a navy to pretend to combat them, and to finally take the threat seriously enough to put a stop to them. But there's the really serious thing here about Obama's lack of historical sense:

That his ideao f catastrophe and urgency regarding this "crisis" is old news in the Left playbook. Johnson had a War on Poverty. What war? There as the crisis of "The Population Bomb." There was the crisis of the Space Race. There was, long before that, as chronicled so well by Jonah Goldberg, the "war socialism" of the Wilson and later Roosevelt eras. This crisis, that crisis, the Global Warming Crisis. Always, when we have a Democratic rule, a crisis that needs immediate intervention or there will be a world-wide catastrophe that none will survive. Over and over there is this chronicle of crisis and the urgent need for intervention. Goldberg cites these "crises" over the course of the 20th century. Most of them are only crises when the Democrats make them so. And Obama has no historical sense to see that he's doing what the others have done before him so consistently.

Goldberg and others have pointed out that "crisis" is the necessary motor of government interventions. He goes into the background to show that Mussolini is a "action figure" who used "War on..." to motivate his totalitarianisms. Obama has no idea because he has no historical sense or knowledge. It's all been done many times before.

Crisis? What crisis?

truepeers said...

Well, if you want proof that this is how the left thinks, check out Naomi Klein on "disaster capitalism" - which she accuses of fomenting crises in order to advance its agenda. But then I see the promotion of crises on "the right" too, even at this blog.

It's probably inevitable that people who want others to take a new direction will tell them that circumstances make it necessary. We must do more than suspect the rhetoric, we must have a capacity to know something of our shared reality and history in order to weigh the claim. I think there is something of a sizeable economic crisis right now, as happens, but I am very doubtful that Obama can be the source of the new way forward.

The problem with Obama's bill is that it does not offer much of the kind of stimulus that could plausibly lead to new economic activities - productive investments; rather it subsidizes all kinds of uncreative Democratic Party interests, and at a mindblowing expense of debt that will be a drag on the US economy for decades.

It's not clear that anyone has any very good ideas about how a proper stimulus could be targeted. When that's lacking, it would surely be better for government to do little more than the minimum in the way of providing a social safety net so people don't starve or freeze. Anything else will be a tax on the kind of independent creativity - all that we cannot yet imagine or predict but that is potential out there in someone's grasp of the new market realities - that can actually get people working again for the long term. Change does come from crises but the idea that government can be the leading agent of change confuses what government is and the nature of the historical process. We can't live without government to protect basic moral and political interests and we can't live with too much of it that closes off the possibilities for individual freedom. And yes, you need a historical sense to know how to weight these things.

Here are some useful further comments I saw today:
Jonah Goldberg: Barack Obama and his supporters have been relentlessly comparing the new president to Franklin Roosevelt. At least one similarity is shockingly accurate: They were both beneficiaries of an obsequious press corps.

David Limbaugh

John Hawkins