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

Friday, July 01, 2011

Forbidden Knowledge

As I observe Barack Obama in full campaign mode more than 15 months before the Presidential election, I wonder whether I’m the only American to think that his partisan campaign talk is unseemly for the President of the United States. At a time when the nation is suffering through the worst economic period of the past 70 years, the sitting President has seen fit to criticize his opponents for lack of work, but has found time to make campaign stops in 30 locations over the past 60 days. Is that really the best use of his time at this critical juncture in our history?

I know that the President had no executive experience when he was elected. In fact, he never ran any enterprise or managed anything other than his campaign. But you’d think that he’d recognize that his time might be better spent in talks with those who might actually help him craft an economic plan going forward.

And speaking of a “plan,” it’s interesting to note that the President was among the first to criticize the detailed economic plans proposed by his opponents, but has not proposed a plan of any kind himself.

In his recent press conference, the President again adopted the rhetoric of class warfare, suggesting that “millionaires and billionaires” do not pay their fair share and are getting unfair tax breaks. He also exhibited a frightening ignorance of what the catalysts for improved economic activity are, demonizing the very people and entities that create jobs.

Is he really that ignorant of economic reality, or are his campaign speeches a cynical political ploy? Robert Tracinsky provides an explanation:
So what explains the deep-seated ignorance of economics on display in his [Obama’s] public comments? Why does he demonstrate such a lack of practical appreciation of how business works?

The answer is that he lacks it because it is forbidden knowledge.

Consider Obama's background. He grew up among leftists, his childhood mentors were outright communists, and he then went off to academia, where he spent his formative years in an environment where business and profit-making are looked down upon as ugly, dirty, rapacious, immoral. Is it any mystery why he doesn't know about business or economics? Asking him to study the economics of the free market is like asking one of the old New England Puritans to thumb through a manual on sex education. Why immerse oneself in a subject that is so unseemly? Why make a study of how to be immoral?

It is for this attitude that Obama was elevated in American politics. He won the Democratic primaries because, unlike Hillary Clinton, he really seemed to believe in all of the old "liberal" pieties. He projected the sense that he still regarded big government as an untried new idea that would do better than the free market. But to believe that, he had to resist the contamination of pro-free-market economics or any independent observation of the workings of the economy.

The President blithely suggests that we will lose standing among the nations of the world if we do not raise our debt limit. He is unable to absorb the fact that we have already lost options and standing because of our indebtness.

His desire to increase our ability to become even more indebted—without serious and potentially painful reductions in spending—will not help us as a country. It will, over time, move us ever closer to a Greek-like scenario in which those who are the beneficiaries of entitlements—the old, the uneducated, the sick, the poor—are forced to face draconian cuts in their government support.

Barack Obama seems unable to absorb the simple idea that serious but manageable cuts today are far better than forced, draconian cuts tomorrow. Maybe it’s because that simple truth is “forbidden knowledge” among those who have adopted the fantasy ideology that there can be no limits to our spending and “millionaires and billionaires” are the core of the problem.