...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Would You Take “Investment Advice” from This Man? Or, Is This Our “Sputnik Moment?”
How do you make over-the-top, multi-trillion-dollar government spending sound good? Well, you can try calling it “investment.” That’s been President Barack Obama’s strategy for trying to sell what should be unsellable. In his State of the Union speech, he tried to appear more “centrist,” and some media figures said he was “Reaganesque,” and I think he just read a book about Ronald Reagan.
In the election of 1960, anti-Nixon forces came up with a popular slogan. “Would you buy a used car from this man?” My question is, “Would you take ‘investment’ advice from Barack Obama?”
Mr. Obama wasn’t channeling his inner Reagan. He was giving us more of the same spend, spend, spend “investment” advice while still trying sound as though he was prepared to clamp down on spending. I suppose he thinks he can have it both ways. But after two years of record-smashing deficits with no end in sight, is he really the one to tell us we should be spending less, while at the same time urging us to spend more? Something here doesn’t quite compute.
When Mr. Obama starts advising us about the economy, we would do well to consider the obvious, as explained by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). The thing that’s been the worst problem for many people, unemployment, is the very thing that the least has been done about in terms of success. Meanwhile, we are quickly becoming a nation in decline as a result of the spending orgy of the Obama era, which makes G.W. Bush look like Mr. Frugal.
I suppose we received a lesson in how to do things like China, a nation much admired by our president. I know there are many fine people and admirable things in China, but the “successes” of their economy depend largely on the fact that there are no human rights in China, thus leaving open the use of child labor, virtual slave labor, and total ignoring of “environmental impact.” Probably to build a nuclear power plant in the U.S. would take decades by the time the required permits and processes were completed, and by then the technology would likely be obsolete. Not so in China. I’m not saying we should be like them. Not at all. But maybe a little less determined to stop this kind of construction before it starts. Similarly for oil refineries, etc.
As Glenn Beck explained on his Fox News Channel show January 26, 2011, The fuels we are now using are going to be the main ones for years to come. Right now, less than one percent of our energy is provided by either wind or solar power. Wood provides two percent. So these new energy sources aren’t going to be our mainstays any time soon.
What’s wrong with letting private industry develop these things when they can be made profitable, rather than throwing good money after bad with government “investment?” Of course it’s questionable whether we have any “good” money to throw at anything – just money hot off the printing press, created out of thin air.
Did I hear him right? Did he actually have some good things to say about America? After bowing to every despotic dictator he meets and apologizing for the U.S. at every opportunity; after wining and dining Mr. “Human Rights” Hu of China? Well, that’s supposed to convince us of his “new tone” and his turn toward the center. Well, not quite.
Our Sputnik Moment?
Here in our “Sputnik Moment,” the president wants us to “invest” (i.e., spend boatloads of government funds) in the following things, among others:
Biomedical research – for what? Cloning? Information technology – I thought we had Google and Facebook, etc. Oh, I see – so we can give him an effective Internet kill switch…. Clean energy technology – see discussion above. High-speed rail -- For whom? They can't get enough passengers to ride Amtrak. (As Glenn Beck mentioned, we'd have to lay a whole new track system. I say, not needed and not cost-effective.) Infrastructure – ah, good old infrastructure, the area where everyone excels us. He may not have noticed, but infrastructure is being worked on all the time. In front of my house, we are getting new curbs and a resurfaced street, All over our city, you can’t go two miles without some major road or bridge construction going on and new buildings going up. Maybe some stimulus funds? And yet our country has 9.4 percent unemployment with the “real” unemployment rate getting worse because people have given up looking for jobs. Education – he seems to want every American to get a college degree. He’s going to “invest” in education to help people pay for college, but when is he going to ask colleges and universities to make their tuition costs realistic by dipping into some of their multi-billion-dollar endowments? There really is no excuse for these rates being so high.
As others have pointed out, the government did nothing to help Edison or the Wright Brothers. Probably not much to help Facebook. Google, I don’t know. Since Al Gore is a prominent figure in that, maybe they got government welfare. Lots of companies do. But government is not the engine of innovation or invention, or the economy in general. It is almost always the impediment that keeps the economy from improving, due to high taxes and endless regulation.
I suggest that this is not our “Sputnik moment.” Yes, we need to compete in the global market. This will be not be accomplished by government “investing” in and controlling so many things. It will be accomplished by unfettered free markets in which entrepreneurs and large companies can be free from government intervention and allowed to pursue their self interest. And government could save a lot by cutting off the corporate welfare spending.
Obama still wants our students to spend more hours and longer school years in the classroom, and to focus more on math and science. Or else, saith he, we won’t be able to compete with the smart kids from other countries. Of course, in some of these countries, kids are taken away from their parents and given special training if they excel in some particular area. I say, get the federal government out of education, return it to local control, and see what happens. Probably, more vocational education, less spirit-strangling student debt, and generally a better economy.
G.K. Chesterton said that many people think they are members of the last generation simply because they can’t imagine the world getting on without them. I think that sort of thinking affects our government. It’s so involved in every aspect of life that it thinks life would simply fall apart if it pulled back. It wouldn’t, of course. Someday, we’ll get back to being a society willing to try it. Or so I hope.
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.