The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


If you examine our evolving world critically, you can’t help but notice that it’s become increasingly connected, but at the same time, increasingly decentralized. Social networks provide a powerful means for global connectivity, while the broad availability of information enables easier decentralization of business and government functions. In a world where you can order a pair of jeans that are customized to your body type or a pair of athletic shoes that are customized to your specific aesthetic taste, it’s reasonable to assume that we should be moving away from a one-size fits all model.

More and more of us matriculate at online universities in which students never have to visit a centralized campus. Small business formation, even in these difficult times, represents a definite trend away from the big corporation as the economic engine of our country. In politics the story of this era is the undeniable reaction of average Americans (yes, the Tea Parties are a manifestation of this) who ask for more local control and fewer centralized mandates.

Yet the Obama administration, supposedly the hippest and smartest to yet inhabit the oval office, appears to be wedded to a 20th century model of centralized government. Joel Klotkin comments:
From health care reform and transportation to education to the environment, the Obama administration has--from the beginning--sought to expand the power of the central state. The president's newest initiative to wrest environment, wage and benefit concessions from private companies is the latest example. But this trend of centralizing power to the federal government puts the political future of the ruling party--as well as the very nature of our federal system--in jeopardy.

Of course, certain times do call for increased federal activity--legitimate threats to national security or economic emergencies, such as the Great Depression or the recent financial crisis, for example.

Other functions essential to interstate commerce--basic research, science education, the guarantee of civil rights, transportation infrastructure--as well as basic environmental health and safety standards also call for some federal oversight. Virtually every modern president, from Roosevelt and Eisenhower to Reagan and Clinton, has endorsed these uses of centralized government.

But what is happening now goes well beyond the previously defined perimeters of the federal government's powers. Obama seems to possess a desire not so much to fix the basic infrastructure of the country but to re-engineer our entire society into the model championed by liberal academia.

There also seems to be a conscious design to recreate the country as a European-style super-state. Forged by an understandable urge to minimize chaos after a century of conflict, the super-state generally favors risk management through centralization of authority. This has traditionally been accomplished by ceding regulatory powers to national capitals, though lately more and more powers have been ceded to the European Union.

Barack Obama has lost the support of those of us in the Center because he appears to be tone deaf to the connectivity and decentralization trends I mentioned earlier. For example, the President cannot visualize a health care system other than one that cedes control to a centralized bureaucracy—a bureaucracy that has demonstrated its inefficiency, lack of financial control, and plodding inertia repeatedly throughout the last 50 years. He cannot envision a green economy that evolves slowly and is driven not by EPA mandates but by private enterprise, young start-ups, and yes, market forces. He cannot appreciate that most Americans don’t need education mandates from on high, but would rather control their childrens' education at a local level.

The smartest guy in the room simply doesn’t get it, and as a consequence his diminishing army of supporters suggests that “the government is broken.” The government is working as the founders envisioned, putting the brakes on a President who lusts for a powerful, all-controlling central state—a government that most Americans simply do not want.