Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Obama Era: A Rendez-vous with Reality

I have said it before, and I say it again.  The reason I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 with all the kiddies was because I felt that Democrats needed to own foreign policy.

Democrats needed to be in charge and experience for themselves what the US needed to do with respect to the forces in the world. Otherwise they'd just play politics like they did from the day after 9/11.  Remember?  The first liberal meme on 9/11 was that the Bush administration had failed to "connect the dots."  Then they put Jamie Gorelick on the 9/11 Commission even though she was the one that put up a wall between the FBI and the CIA.

On Iraq, Democrats were for it before they were against it.  And now, it seems, per Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal, their bellwether liberal writers are weather-vaning back in favor of it: at least to the extent of favoring "doing something" about ISIS.

OK.  I'm not a genius. I wasn't thinking that some years down the road a complete conflagration in the Middle East would turn liberal eyes back towards the late 1990s consensus on foreign policy.  I just wanted the liberal ruling class to get its fingers on the levers of power and make up its mind what it wanted.

The other good thing about the Obama era is that Democrats have been in charge during the discouraging years immediately after the generational Crash of 2008.  Imagine if John McCain had won the election and stumble-bummed his way through 2009-12 like Barack Obama!  He'd already be down in the presidential basement and everyone would agree that he was worse than Herbert Hoover, and he would be proof, as if any proof were needed, that Republicans didn't care about ordinary people and only cared about The Rich.

Here we are, with Obamacare, ISIS, corruption, economic stagnation, race riots, and it's all hanging around Obama's neck.  So now Republicans have a chance for real economic reform.

But the basic problem is still there.  The American people really don't know from bupkis when it comes to the economy.  As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes, we still retain our paleolithic economic intuitions.

What do we need to do?  It's not rocket science.

We need to X out all the stupid economic regulation from minimum wage to child labor that makes it extremely hard for marginal people to get ahead in America.

We need to end the generational injustice of Social Security and Medicare.  Here's my idea of justice.  So long as you are able to work, you get to retire when you have saved enough money to yield an income to retire on.  That means, if you wonder, that the old 'uns like me have saved enough to create jobs for the people whose work will support us in our old age.

We need to make welfare time-limited.  That was the idea behind the reform of 1996, but Obama has quietly repealed it -- without the consent of the governed.  And the American middle class needs to be socialized to believe that it is the personal responsibility of each American to relieve the sufferings of the poor.

We need to go back to sound money.  Of course.  But the lesson of the 20th century is that you can't have sound money with big government, because Big G is always screwing up the economy and needing to devalue the currency in order to get out of a jam.

We need to get the government out of education.  Maybe the best thing to do is to repeal compulsory attendance.  Middle-class kids will grow up to be literate and numerate anyway.  So that means we can concentrate on the children of the  poor.  And it would be better if: a) the poor paid for their kids' education as they do in the Third World  (see James Tooley and The Beautiful Tree) and b) the slack were made up with money from billionaires and time from middle-class volunteers.

I know what you are saying.  Good luck with that.

That's why I say that the only way out is through a moral/religious awakening that sweeps away all the dogs-in-a-manger -- that's you and me -- that won't go with the program because they won't give up their own personal little benefit from the government.

But at least the Obama era will have given many of us a rather compelling rendez-vous with the reality that progressivism doesn't work.

And the result will be some sensible piecemeal reforms that will heal the economy until the next Obama era thirty years from now.

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