Could this be the next great economic idea from the Obama White House?
Now that Obamacare has slipped into the ocean trench that lies just off the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, the president will turn his full attention to the issue of jobs. This can mean only one thing.
Now nobody’s job is safe.
Soon we will all be out on the street — in bread lines or moving into makeshifts shelters that our government, out of the kindness of its heart, has built for us. To add just a bit to the line in the old Willy & Waylon song about Luckenbach, Texas, it’s time to get back to the basics of life on the dole.
FDR liked to visit the boys living in Civil Conservation Corps barracks. He had good time eating, joking, and making little speeches. Maybe Barack will do the same for us. Visit us in our shanty-towns, shoot some hoops, and flash that toothy grin.
FDR appreciated the propaganda value of these visits. Everyone looks so happy and content in their government-created work camps. That was one of the things the CCC did — it created endless footage for the sole purpose of singing its own praises and paying homage to FDR. If you could look inside the mind of the typical progressive, you would find those old news reels playing an endless loop.
Only a couple of months ago, the president vowed that we would “spend our way out of this recession.” Now he is singing a new tune — calling for “austerity.” How is one to reconcile the two sides of Mr. Obama’s newly adopted public persona — Mr. Spendthrift and Mr. Austerity? Actually, there is no difficulty here, because, either way, the president will decide what needs to be done, with little or no input from the private sector.
We may go ahead, for instance, with a multi-billion dollar light rail system not because it makes economic or business sense, but, far more importantly, because it has been “the Number One issue back on the Obama Citizen Suggestion Site.”
Let me relate a story that I believe sheds some light on the other side of Mr. Obama: the hard, flinty, austere side. It concerns the friend of a friend, who left Wall Street to become a key member of the General Motors rescue team put together by Steve Rattner last spring.
When this man went into the Oval Office for the first time, he tried to engage the president in some friendly chit-chat, saying that he had a basketball court in his backyard and a bunch of athletic children who loved to play the game. “We have nine basketballs at our house,” he boasted. Big mistake! Mr. Obama fixed the investment banker with an icy stare, and said, “No one should have more than one basketball.”
That’s it. That is Obamanomic austerity. The same president who wants to ration health care — things like stents and hip replacements — also wants to ration basketballs. There should be no more than one basketball per household — and perhaps no more than one hip replacement for every 1,000 people between the ages of 60 and 69. And fewer for those between the less ages of 70 and 79, who are that much closer to the end. Let the government decide.
That’s austerity, all right. You don’t have to be a proponent of small government to favor austerity. Communists and socialists have been doing it for years. So, too, have the mullahs. They are excellent practitioners of the same kind of austerity that sneers at free choice and reliably produces shoddy products and grinding poverty.
Price controls, shortages, queuing and rationing — all those are key elements in the socialist tool kit. Since this administration was already prepared to ration health care , CO2 emissions and incomes (with severe tax penalties for anyone making more than $200,000 or $250,000 a year), why not ration jobs as well.
FDR did so. He called it “work sharing.” He set out to stop people from working a full week by forcing employers to reduce the number of hours per worker. Thus, he deliberately sought to limit jobs to less than one per person.
In his book How Capitalism Saved America, the economist Tom DiLorenzo provides a vivid description of how FDR’s government went out of its way to discourage and penalize work. The government created a bureaucratic monstrosity called the National Recovery Administration (NRA) which required every business owner to observe a minimum wage, a maximum work week, and to take other nonproductive steps to spread work around. DiLorenzo quotes another writer (John T. Flynn) on the effect of such rules and regulations:
(Code enforcement police) roamed through the garment district like storm troopers. They would enter a man’s factory, send him out, line up his employees, subject them to minute interrogation, take over his books on the instant. Night work was forbidden. Flying squadrons of these private coat-and-suit police went through the district at night, battering down doors with axes looking for men who were committing the sin of sewing together a pair of pants at night.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?