Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Obama Anti-Business?

The moguls are up in arms. From Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg to Boston Properties' Mort Zuckerman, the titans of American industry have discovered that their president does not much like them.

Of course, they're right. Now, if only they would offer a cogent explanation for what drew them to support Obama in the first place, to vote for him, and to fund his campaign.

They do not restore their credibility by seeing the obvious. They need to tell us how they missed it when it was not quite so obvious.

On that score, the leaders of American business and banking have some serious explaining to do. As of yet, I have not seen them rushing out to tell us how they could have gotten it so wrong.

Anyway, being anti-business is a state of mind. It produces what Victor Davis Hanson called a psychology of recession. Link here.

As Hanson explains exceptionally well, it isn't one statement or one piece of legislation. It is an accumulation of statements by the administration, which people eventually put together, as a jigsaw puzzle. Then they see things clearly, draw conclusions, and act accordingly.

Some would call it the administration's rhetoric; others would say that it is a new discourse; surely it also creates a new culture.

As Hanson explains, we need but examine the gestures and actions of the administration. Not the hidden meanings, but the words they use; the concepts they deploy; the actions they take.

As Hanson notes, they are always talking about redistributing, not creating, wealth. They want to restrict, regulate, and constrain the system. They want to punish business, by increased taxation or by regulatory schemes that no one really understands. They are expanding entitlement spending and introducing mountains of new regulations without any real understanding of the consequences.

They are effecting a moral purge of the system. This has created uncertainty and stifled investment and hiring.

Truth be told, the Obami believe that the financial crisis was caused by the fundamental corruption of the banking system. And American capitalism. And the free markets. They feel that their job is to punish the perpetrators. Call it social justice, if you like. But it never created a job or produced any wealth.

The Obama administration has declared war on business. It has sided with big labor unions. And it has let the world know that its mind is preoccupied with punishing malefactors and restricting economic freedom.

It should be no surprise to anyone that business leaders do not want to add to their payrolls or invest in a future that is becoming increasingly uncertain.

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