"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama Reveals Future to CEOs (Some Translation Required)

Check out this article credited to Kim Chipman from Bloomberg.com via Yahoo.

Talking to a group of CEOs while making the standard rounds to promote his ideological budget, Obama managed to blame the recession on “reckless speculation and spending beyond our means; on bad credit and inflated home prices and overleveraged banks.” I don't see any mention of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, nor of Congress' de facto risky loan guarantees through the Fair Lending Act. Thomas Sowell does an excellent job of dissecting some root causes of the financial "crisis" in this essay and in this other (there are more in Sowell's archives all of them interesting reading). Guess what? None of these governmental causes were mentioned by Obama.

No news flash here. Obama is cocky and naive in the skill of governing, but he's no idiot. Like a bewildering number of Democrats, Obama is a skilled PR man (something Republicans have sorely lacked since Reagan). A type who would make a good aluminum siding salesman. While selling an expensive bill of goods like universal health care, govt. controlled "green" energy and public education through college, he would naturally never mention the government's eminent role in the sub-prime debacle. That's obvious. Instead he must villainize those who would stand against his agenda, those unscrupulous (reckless speculation), greedy (spending beyond their means), and just all-around horrible people-- the capitalists.

Obama is a salesman. He knows the product won't sell itself, and so he must sell something else-- an image. Following in the steps of MTV (corporate elites programming for young adults like these-- irony?) Nike, Disney and other successful labels, Obama is building an image with his speeches, not really selling a product. And like his campaign, his administration is twisted around what it stands against-- not for what it represents.

Obama says: “I’m not choosing to address these additional challenges [health-care system, energy and education] just because I feel like it, or because I’m a glutton for punishment,” Obama told the business leaders. “I’m doing so because they are fundamental to our economic growth and to ensuring that we don’t have more crises like this in the future.”

Really? Our current recession was because of our lack of universal health care, govt. controlled green energy, and collegiate subsidies? Huh... I think I would like to hear the logic on this one. But there isn't any. Despite the initial indications and implications of the connection, Obama doesn't actually state that there is one. Instead what he's actually saying in these scripted lines, is that his agenda (universal health care, govt. controlled green energy, and collegiate subsidies) will prevent more recessions like this in the future. He offers no evidence of this (probably because there isn't any... countries that have some of these policies are prone to economic crises on a regular basis), just a blanket statement that windmills will magically prevent recessions.

"Such plans aren’t intended to supplant private enterprise, Obama said. Rather, they are designed 'to spur commerce and industry." Designed to spur commerce and industry with the federal governement as regulator and partner. How can it be otherwise within his budget plan?

Ah, but the most telling and disturbing remark is "that the U.S. can’t continue with 'endless cycles of bubble and bust' and must build a new foundation for future economic growth."

Okay part of this quote is from Kim Chipman, so I will not hold Obama to every nuance. Yet, I am willing to believe (silly me) that a professional reporter is skilled and ethical enough to not print something by a president completely out of context. If she did (if indeed Kim Chipman is a she) she might get a call from four senior white house officials, and we can't have that. Obama doesn't rely on those teleprompters just to get mis-quoted.

So, we can't have an "endless cycles of bubble and bust," huh? Well, what exactly is this "endless cycle" Obama refers to? To me, the concept (not the carefully chosen and read words) sounds like market readjustment. Life may be nicer for some without readjustment, but its impossible to avoid. Ask the Soviets or Mao. They tried their damnedest and ended up starving millions of people to death (The Ukrainian farm collectivization and The Great Leap Forward). Less dramatic examples are plentiful. You might as well try to prevent earthquakes or tidal waves.

And how does Obama plan control these "endless cycles?" Based on the content of his speech, it must be the federal government's regulation that would do that. Has this ever worked? Seriously, can someone give me one solid example of when a central government has been able to control market fluctuations? Cuba? The Soviet Union? Venezuela? China? Sweden? Cambodia? Israel's kibbutzes?

Obama can say he's not a socialist until he's blue in the face. His supporters can deny it all too. It doesn't matter. Friendly sounding labels are important for advertising and clever debate. It changes people's perceptions, not reality. Denials do not change the fact that Obama's policies coincide with the socialist doctrine of strong central government taking care of their citizenry-- a system of governing that simply does not work.

In The Life of Reason George Santayana once wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I'm afraid it seems that those who do not study the mistakes of others are condemned to repeat them.

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