The Great Disconnect
One of the oddest things is President Obama’s continuing surprise at the rising unemployment rate. Indeed, we now have a new Orwellianism of “jobs saved”: as jobs are lost, we are told that some of those who do have them were “saved” by President Obama (note the logic: you ignore the stats that quantify reality, but hype fantasy).
If you were a contractor, a car dealer, a dentist, or an accountant, and if you heard that we may/will/sorta raise federal income taxes, lift the tax caps off FICA, think about a VAT tax, impose a health care surcharge on the “wealthy,” have new mandatory fees for forced medical plans and green energy, and had you just got hit with new raised sales and state income taxes, why would you feel secure about the future and gamble on it by hiring more employees?
And if you were to read daily that gold is rising, the dollar crashing, the debt and deficit exploding, the trade imbalance surging, and if you collated all that depression with cheap slurs about doctors, the Chamber of Commerce, the insurance industry, etc. as grasping and greedy, and if you were caricatured as a Nazi, astro-turfer, tea-bagger, or racist if you protested, and if you saw the federal government taking over banks and car companies, and shutting down some dealerships, but mysteriously not others, and if you heard of vast new entitlements and programs to come, from a take-over of the student loan program to cap and trade, would you then conclude—“Wow, we have a serious sober President who supports the business climate, and will lead us out of recession, so by golly, I am going to go out and hire 2-3 more people to ride the coming wave of increased business!”?
Or would you instead conclude, “Hmm, our commander in chief likes neither me nor what I represent. He will take much of my profits and divert them to his own favored constituencies. So I better slow down, retrench, cut back, squirrel away some money to pay for new fees on power and health insurance, and find a smart accountant to advise on curbing my income so I don’t end up giving 70% to the state and federal governments”?
At some point, Obama may conclude that the vast presidential jet, the opulence of the Presidency, the power and influence at his fingertips, all that national wealth and more were not created by Acorn, community organizing, Michelle’s legal brilliance, Axelrod’s savvy advice, or Emanuel’s crassness, or by claiming that doctors needlessly take out tonsils and amputate limbs, or in general by sonorous tones promising to give someone vast amounts of someone else’s money, but rather through preserving a climate of freedom, respect for continuity and tradition, and government non-intrusion into the market place that encourage people to try to go into business and retain some of their profits—as recompense for getting up on Saturday morning at 6AM to get down to open the dry cleaning store, or borrowing one’s net worth to open a new stationary outlet, or staying late till 7PM to do a crown, or gambling that the new $500,000 crane will pay for itself in 5 years, or going under someone’s house on a Sunday to unclog the toilet when the employee doesn’t show up.
I expect him soon either to continue as is and face a historic rebuke in 2010, or to begin scrambling to talk about the debt, fiscal sobriety, and American exceptionalism—his Carter or Clinton call.
These are the most interesting of times: we are witnessing nothing less than an attempt in just 10 months to reinvent the United States at home and abroad into something it never was, led by someone who, the more soothing, comforting, and melodic his speech-making, the more bruising, cut-throat, and ruthless the act that follows.
So it’s like we’re living in the late Roman Republic…
Monday, November 16, 2009