Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Obama's Transformational Presidency

Barack Obama has been a transformational president. So says Joel Kotkin, and he is undoubtedly correct. Obama has been working to turn America into a European-style social democracy, a place where economic opportunity and growth have been sacrificed to liberal and radical social policies.

In such a Nanny state, competition is bad because some groups consistently do better at it. Thus social justice must take control of the competitive marketplace. Economic progress is bad because it produces too many greenhouse gasses and offends Mother Nature. And, no one should be able to choose freely where to live or with whom to socialize because such choices are inherently discriminatory.

Kotkin explains:

President Obama’s great accomplishment, arguably, has been to spur the evolution of a society that formerly rested on individual and familial aspiration, and turn it into a more regulated and centralized regime focused on broader social and environmental concerns. This tendency has been made much stronger as the number of Americans, according to Gallup, who feel there is “plenty of opportunity ahead” has dropped precipitously – from 80 percent in 1997 to barely 52 percent today.

The shift away from the entrepreneurial model can also be seen in the constriction of loans to the small-business sector. Rates of business start-ups have fallen well below historical levels, and, for young people in particular, have hit the lowest levels in a quarter century. At the same time, the welfare state has expanded dramatically, to the point that nearly half of all Americans now get payments from the federal government.

In Obama’s America it is increasingly difficult to start a new business. Opportunity barely exists any more. Yet, social welfare money transfers, accompanied by higher taxes, are alive and well and flourishing.

It reminds you of the situation in France. And we know that, thanks to French socialism, the most ambitious and best educated young Frenchmen and Frenchwomen are now living and working in … London. Excessive government interventions in the economy has cost the nation a generation of the best and brightest young people.

According Kotkin, today’s progressive politics rest on three pillars: sexual liberation; environmentalism; racial justice.

It’s not merely that more and more people are having more and more sex—in fact, it appears that people are having less and less sex. And it goes beyond the issues of abortion politics, even though many of today’s Republican candidates are making statements about abortion that will guarantee that they will never win a general election.

The new sexual politics insists that marriage is always the same, no matter the gender of the participants. It wants all individuals to be open and honest about their sexual activities and their sexual preferences. And it has insisted that we all embrace Bruce Jenner’s womanhood. If he believes he’s a woman, he’s a woman. Besides, we would hurt his feelings if we dared suggest otherwise.

In Obama’s transformed  America, it is more about rejecting the work ethic and reality than about embracing sensuality.

As for the politics of racial redress, we have gotten to the point, Kotkin argues, where it is not enough to have equal opportunity. We must have equal outcomes. Anywhere we find unequal outcomes we must conclude that the system is rigged against certain groups. If some groups commit disproportionately larger numbers of crimes, that can only mean that the criminal justice system is prejudiced against them. Don’t you understand-- if no one ever got arrested and tried and convicted, there would be less crime.

In his words:

The second major thrust of the reconstituted American Dream is the imposition of a regime of permanent racial redress. In contrast to assuring equal rights, the new drive is to guarantee similar results. In every aspect of life, from immigration and housing to school and work, “people of color,” which increasingly excludes Asians, will be categorized by race. This includes the call for “reparations” for African Americans and essentially open borders for undocumented immigrants.

This logic carried to extremes can be seen in the “disparate impact” rules promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and now blessed by the Supreme Court. Under this concept, any town can have its zoning and planning upended if the bureaucracy, or some plaintiffs, decide the town is too white, too Asian or too affluent to meet the standards of “social justice.” This could be extended down the line to every institution, from the workplace to the university. The new approach could be accurately characterized as affirmative action on steroids.

And then there is the new environmentalism. It is less concerned with cleaning up the environment than with repealing the Industrial Revolution, free market capitalism and economic growth. Being a nature cult, it is willing to sacrifice human prosperity to an idealized version of the natural world.

Kotkin writes:

But today’s climate-change-focused environmentalism increasingly opposes economic growth per se, seeing in it a threat to the planet. For some people, the solution for the planet lies in depressing living standards by such steps as ratcheting up the cost of basic necessities, from energy to housing. Environmental advocates often work in concert with those who benefit from subsidies for everything from solar energy to transit lines, but the goal remains to constrain consumption and raise prices for such basics as housing and energy.

Yet these negative impacts don’t mean much to many green activists who, notes the Guardian’s George Monbiot, see the climate struggle as a way to “redefine humanity.” The target here is the economy itself, which remains driven largely by the desire for material wealth, upward mobility and support of families. Monbiot envisions a war against what he calls the “expanders” by the rational legions of green “restrainers” who will seek to curb their foes’ economic activities.

The celebration of economic stagnation is accepted openly among European greens who support an agenda of “degrowth.” It is also reflected in American calls for “de-development,” a phrase employed by President Obama’s Science Adviser John Holdren. The agenda, particularly in high-income countries, seeks to limit fossil fuels, raise energy prices, stem suburban development and replace the competive capitalism system with a highly regulated economy that favors designated “green’ energy industries over others.

Many of today’s European Greens got their start in radical leftist politics. Ever since the great Marxist experiment failed, they have been seeking a way to channel their idealistic exuberance. They have chosen to continue the struggle in other arenas. Brimming with Nietzschean resentment, they are sore losers who don’t even know they are losers.

They have now embraced the environmentalist cause. It’s easier to dupe a gullible public into shutting down free enterprise in order to save it from toxins and pollutants-- or to save a smelt-- than it is to sell a discredited vision of the Workers’ Paradise.

What will come of this? Kotkin believes that the young generation, seeing its prospects shrink, will rebel against big government and sore-loser environmentalism. This may or may not be true. One must recognize that this generation has been indoctrinated to within an inch of its sanity with the basic credo of the Church of the Liberal Pieties.

Or else, one suspects that many of our best and brightest will begin to do as the French do: they will debark for greater opportunity elsewhere. While the French can easily migrate anywhere in the European Union, America’s best young people will be facing a different challenge: where to go to find what America no longer provides. 


Ares Olympus said...

I guess its interesting to see someone's opinions about how American is going wrong, and at least he mentions student debt as a problem, although its not clear how conservatism is going to fix this. Of course the answer is that we need to end all government backed loans, and privatize all the universities and let their shareholders profits dictate which students and majors are allowed to get into debt.

Stuart said: ...one suspects that many of our best and brightest will begin to do as the French do: they will debark for greater opportunity elsewhere.

The idea that Americans will migrate to other countries is also an interesting idea, but seems unlikely. Where are they going to go, like Canada, with their publicly funded health care? ObamaCare is going to have to get a public option before we're going to "full communist" like our northern neighbors?

Maybe they'll go to Mexico, like Jesse Ventura where the cost of living is cheaper, although they might also have to pay for armed security to avoid getting shot up in the drug war.

Maybe they'll go to China, where living in a city means the equivalent of smoking 40 packs of cigarettes per day? Who needs environmental standards anyway.

Yes, I know, lots of countries out there with lower health standards, and lower environmental standards, and higher levels of corruption to allow a proper business to bribe their way to success, but will foreigners really get sufficient representation in those countries courts? How much does it cost to get justice? Maybe the lawyers are cheaper, to compensate for the higher levels of bribes needed?

Probably the grass is always greener on the other side of the 50 foot wall. And don't forget we've got global competition to worry about, a race to the bottom to win, and we must try much harder with such determined competition. Someday we will overcome socialism, but until then we must keep the banner flying for freedom to waste everything we can at the greatest possible cost to someone else. That's the American way.

Leo G said...

As per Kotkins suggestion of the young rebelling. He may be on to something. Up here in the great white north, we had a similar occurance in the fifties in Quebec, when the young rebelled against the authority of the Church. Of course I don't think it quite turned out the way that the rebels imagined. Quebec has been a have not province, forever. (What this means in our socialist Canada, is that the have provinces, those that actually generate wealth, HAVE their excesses taken away and it is graciously given to the have not provinces.)

Dennis said...

For your edification: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/08/economist-explains-9



sestamibi said...

It's not that people are having less sex altogether. It's that fewer and fewer men are having more and more sex with ALL available women

Anonymous said...

Ireland had 25% debt to GDP prior to the private sector financial crisis and over 120% debt to GDP after the government had to bailout the financial sector during the Great Recession:


France had 64% debt to GDP prior to the private sector financial crisis and over 95% debt to GDP during the Great Recession:


United States debt to GDP before crisis 64% during Great Recussion up to 102%:


United Kingdom:


I think the private debt to GDP ratio is much higher in UK then in US or in other countries which explains why it might have a better job picture to attract young workers from France. The collapse of private debt in Ireland forced the government to bailout the financial system or else slowly resolve massive debt defaults during a Great Depression. Since financial firms bundled mortgages into products that socialize losses and privatize profits the legal problem of allocating losses via bankruptcy is vastly more complex than in the past so a depression would likely endure for a significant period of time (the wheels of justice turn slowly).

Most of the problems you are describing have nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with changing demographics or limitations inherent in free enterprise financial capitalism.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Anonymous @August 18, 2015 at 1:00 PM:

Well, my goodness... if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't we??? Is that your logic?

"Most of the problems you are describing have nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with changing demographics or limitations inherent in free enterprise financial capitalism."

So you don't think an agenda of the Affordable Care Act, explosion of Food Stamps, and a scandalous expansion of SSA claims, and advertising for people to come get their government entitlements is anyone's fault but "free enterprise financial capitalism"? No one's accountable for entitlements, no one's responsible. It's the nameless, faceless, invisible system. Is that it?

All systems have limitations. Take communism, for example... you get lines for panty hose and bread. Take democratic socialism... you get a horrible youth unemployment rate because of "changing demographics" no one wants to deal with. In our system, we have expanded entitlement spending so much that it's out of control. It's not just an aging population. People are on the take because they've realized they're suckers for working when they can get freebies instead. It's the transformational nature of Obama's agenda: he wants to bring European economic sclerosis to America.

When all this money goes to entitlement spending, it vaporizes into thin air. There are no assets built with it (like infrastructure). People have taxes taken out of their earnings as transfer payments to other people, as decided by a political class. The political realm is the worst place on earth to decide an efficient allocation of resources.

"Since financial firms bundled mortgages into products that socialize losses and privatize profits the legal problem of allocating losses via bankruptcy is vastly more complex than in the past so a depression would likely endure for a significant period of time (the wheels of justice turn slowly)."

The financial firms were able to bundle mortgages into products because the government provided an implicit guarantee for those mortgages through Freddie and Fannie, which provided an incentive to the financial firms in an era of almost 0% interest rates to get some kind of gain through the interest advantage in buying up bundled mortgages. It is the government guarantee, championed by politicians, that gave us the bankruptcies through socialized losses. Meanwhile, they prop up these Wall Street firms rather than let them go under. Insane. But let us be clear: it is the government that created the problem -- by creating "too big to fail banks" and guaranteeing real estate debt -- not the financial firms. The financial firms take risks, and are looking for a sure thing. The Fred/Fan guarantee was as close to a sure thing as there was.

Nick said...

I'm 26, and I can tell you, I'm completely demoralized by America. I can't make ends meet at all. I want to leave very badly. People my age are incredibly boring. They believe in nothing, and are even afraid to talk about God. Hedonism is cool now, believing in things greater than yourself is for creeps. As a Christian, I kinda enjoy having people hate me for it because it gives me an opportunity to expose how incredibly ignorant they are. (I didn't grow up in the Bible belt, either, so I know my enemies. Washington DC is the Vatican for the Church of Wholly Liberal Pities.)

"When Satan comes in like a flood, God raises up a standard."

Dennis said...

If one believes that deficit spending can have a positive affect on the economy by multiplying the amount of money available to the private economy then one cannot do what Obama does by adding more and more taxes and regulations to remove that money back out of the private economy. NOTE: this should not be done except in the case where leftists have so damaged the economy that government has to take some action to correct a disastrous condition. Along with deficit spending one has to lower taxes and lessen government involvement in the economy so that deficit spending has a multiplicative affect throughout the private economy where real jobs are created.
Consider for a moment the development of a new product that needs to be manufactured and sold. All along its logistics chain one has the need for raw materials which requires manpower, materials et al. Then one needs people to move that material to the factory. The one needs manpower, equipment, et al to manufacture the product. Then one needs more people to market the product and aid the users of that product. This does not count the number of people who become third party providers to maintain that product or to dispose of it. Notice how the investment in the product multiplies its affect throughout.
I have tried to simplify this example, but it is important to understand how money, et al moves to either enhance growth or deter growth. Consider how many times a service is multiplied?
What the Obama administration has done is to grow government, which has little affect on multiplying money, at the expense of the private economy, where money has a far larger affect on that multiplicative factor, which has had the affect of not growing the economy to the point where large segments of possible workers have given up even attempting to find work. Does money given to people who provide no real service or product do anything to grow the economy? In fact it creates more money chasing a finite product thereby raising costs to everyone. "It is better to teach a man to fish than it is to give him a fish."
If one wants an instructive lesson in history one only needs to look at the state that started out as commonwealths and why they almost failed until they change how they were governed.

Anonymous said...

Ireland's growth economy was touted as a model for free market or free enterprise ideas in action. However Ireland rapidly increased the government debt to GDP ratio to bailout its free enterprise economy when the markets want into a panic. When markets want risk they increase debt and fuel and asset price bubble. Then investors play the game of musical chairs trying to sell inflated assets to the greater fool. This game destroys credit formation and drives the real economy into the ditch of recession or great depression. If the government does not provide cash flow insurance then many units go bankrupt all at once. This is a property of capitalist and people want governments to correct that flaw in market psychology whether one likes it or not.