September 13, 2007
Hillary Clinton: I Will Change Our CountryBy Steven M. Warshawsky
In the spring of 1993, shortly after her husband and political benefactor Bill Clinton took office as the nation's 42nd president, Hillary Clinton delivered the commencement address at the University of Texas. In her speech, Hillary reiterated the theme that has been at the heart of her political vision from the start:
"Remolding society." This is the terminology of a utopian socialist, one who seeks to remake society according to a narrow and dogmatic ideology that claims to eliminate injustice, poverty, and unhappiness, once and for all. Hillary's ideology is an amalgam of New Left marxism and grievance feminism, the kind of unwholesome stew that is commonplace on elite college campuses.
Significantly, the term "remolding" -- unlike such terms as "reform" or "renew" -- reflects a sweeping rejection of society as it currently exists: family structure (too patriarchal), economic organization (favors the rich), social practices (discriminate against women and minorities), and so on. In other words, someone who believes that society needs to be "remolded" is someone who, at bottom, cannot see any good in the American way of life -- and someone who, if she could, would radically change that way of life. Who doubts that this describes Hillary Clinton?
Lest anyone think that a more mature and experienced Hillary Clinton has tempered her political objective, consider her recent speech in Concord, New Hampshire, at an event over Labor Day weekend that her campaign titled "Change We Need." In her speech, Hillary forthrightly declared: "I will bring my experience to the White House and begin to change our country starting on Day One." That's right: Change our country. As her official campaign website illustrates, Hillary means what she says.
Returning to the cause celebre of her days as First Lady, Hillary's official website proclaims that "America is ready for universal health care. Hillary has the vision and the experience to make it a reality." Hillary's plan for universal health care, i.e., socialized medicine, will nationalize -- and ruin -- approximately one-seventh of the U.S. economy. As night follows day, we will see shortages, rationing, waiting lists, deteriorating facilities, less research and development, fewer of our "best and brightest" going into medicine (and more doctors imported from third-world countries), and lower quality health care for most Americans (the richest citizens, including Bill and Hillary, will be able to obtain high-quality private care). This is what has happened in Great Britain under the National Health Service.
What concerns me most, however, is the harm that socialized medicine will do to the nation's character. Socialized medicine not only will be an economic and humanitarian disaster -- it will undermine the freedom, responsibility, and independence of ordinary Americans.
On this score, socialized medicine represents a giant leap beyond the major "middle class entitlement" program, Social Security. Social Security likewise promotes an unhealthy dependency on government (and unjustly taxes current workers to pay for older citizens' retirements), but at least it allows recipients to spend their retirement checks according to their own interests and priorities.
In sharp contrast, under a regime of socialized medicine, a person's choice of doctors, procedures, medicines -- even lifestyles -- will be controlled by the government. You think HMOs are bureaucratic, impersonal, and non-responsive? Just wait until Hillary creates an HMO for the entire United States! Furthermore, under Social Security, it is possible to maintain the fiction that each recipient has "earned" his or her payment. With socialized medicine, on the other hand, the redistributionist nature of the program will be unavoidable. Every American, except for the rich, will know that he or she is "on the dole." The result will be to spread across the nation as a whole the same enervating and demoralizing "culture of dependency" that afflicts the "beneficiaries" of the welfare state.
In truth, the rich do not have enough wealth that can be expropriated to fund a national health care system. This means that taxes will have to be raised, directly or indirectly, on all Americans to pay for this program. The government thus will take everyone's dollars and decide for us how the money should be spent on health care. The net effect, therefore, will not be to redistribute wealth from "rich" to "poor" -- but to redistribute power from the people to the government. As with all liberal programs, the real goal is to replace individual freedom and responsibility with an omnipotent and paternalistic state -- under the control of a political elite ("the vanguard of the proletariat," in Lenin's terminology, which still rings true to liberal ears). Such a system of government inevitably produces subjects, not citizens.
If Americans still believe in the fundamental principles on which this country was founded -- liberty, self-reliance, and limited government -- they must resist the siren song of socialized medicine.
Sharply Limited Energy Consumption
After the health care industry, Hillary has set her sights on the energy industry, which literally drives the economy, indeed our entire way of life. Without plentiful, cheap energy -- which, despite complaints about rising gas and heating oil prices, Americans continue to possess in relative abundance -- it simply is not possible to live the kind of on-the-go, high-consumption, air-conditioned lives that Americans enjoy. Where does this energy come from? It primarily (85%) comes from fossil fuels, i.e., coal and oil and natural gas. Alternative energy sources, such as hydro, solar, wind, and biomass, cannot come close to fueling an advanced industrial and technological society like ours. Nuclear power, about which Hillary says she is "agnostic," has been neglected for so long in this country (it only supplies 8% of our total energy needs) that it cannot be part of anything but a long-term solution. The bottom line is that if we do not burn lots and lots of fossil fuels, Americans cannot continue to enjoy their high quality of life.
Hillary claims she is going to make our country "energy independent," i.e., not reliant on "foreign sources of oil." This sounds like a worthy goal, but it is not remotely plausible. That is, unless we severely restrict our consumption of energy, roughly one-third of which comes from foreign sources (mainly oil used for gasoline). The consequences of such a "belt-tightening" strategy would be to drastically reduce both the size and vitality of our economy, leading to massive unemployment and a lower standard of living.
Furthermore, Hillary's manifest belief that it is problematic for us to buy oil from Canada and Mexico, two of our three largest "foreign" suppliers, makes no sense. Indeed, the only way for the United States to buy less oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela -- the true problem -- is to buy more oil from Canada, Mexico, and other friendly countries. This would have the further beneficial effect of strengthening these countries' economies and enhancing our trade relations. Yes, we should drill more oil here at home, but the enormous size and sophistication of our economy will require us to import oil long into the future.
Nevertheless, importing more "good" oil is not an option for Hillary, because she also agrees with Al Gore and the loony environmental left that "global climate change is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time." Accordingly, Hillary pledges to "lead the charge to stop global warming" and "reduce carbon emissions and other pollution that contribute to global warming." How do you reduce carbon emissions? By not burning fossil fuels, i.e., by using less energy. This is the logic behind the Kyoto Protocol, which the Clinton Administration signed but the Senate wisely rejected. Should President Hillary succeed in getting something like the Kyoto Protocol enacted into law, the result, once again, will be severe harm to the nation's economy, and to the American way of life.
Of course, leftists like Hillary believe that the American way of life is selfish, excessive, and wasteful. So they believe that ordinary Americans should be required by the government to make sacrifices, e.g., by mandating the kinds of cars people drive (no SUVs). Such measures, however, will have no meaningful effect on "global warming." Global warming -- which refers to a few degrees increase, over many decades, in average global temperature -- is an inevitable, natural, cyclical process, upon which humans have little or no impact. (For example, one of the alleged signs of global warming, melting polar ice caps, is occurring on Mars!) Significantly, there is no evidence that the Earth's climate is becoming more "extreme" and less conducive to human life and civilization. On the contrary, a small increase in the Earth's temperature, on balance, may have a beneficial effect. Indeed, previous warming periods, e.g., during the Middle Ages, corresponded with human flourishing. In any event, Al Gore's nightmare vision of New York City under water is utterly nonsensical, as is the belief -- mostly shared by those who think Hillary should be president -- that driving hybrid cars or reducing one's "carbon footprint" (a truly ridiculous term) will cool the atmosphere.
In sum, Hillary's energy plan, if put into effect, would lead to sharply reduced energy consumption, a shrinking economy, and a less enjoyable way of life for all Americans. Except for the wealthy moguls, celebrities, and politicians who are fomenting this global warming hysteria. Their self-righteous satisfaction over "saving the planet" will more than make up for their somewhat crimped lifestyles in a less energy-friendly society. But the average American's lifestyle will be severely impacted.
Even if Hillary finds it politically infeasible to fully implement her energy agenda, under her presidency we surely will see higher taxes (especially on the reviled oil companies), higher prices, and more burdensome, costly, and annoying regulations (e.g., home lightbulb requirements), all justified on the specious grounds of "energy independence" and "global warming." I predict it won't be long before President Hillary will be urging Americans to turn down the thermostat and put on sweaters during winter.
"A Champion For Women"
Lastly, we should not forget that, after socialized medicine, the cause dearest to Hillary's heart is using the power of government to enforce the "equality" of men and women in all areas of life, from the family and schools, to business and the military. The National Organization for Women has a kindred spirit in Hillary, whom NOW has endorsed for president.
Although Hillary claims to speak on behalf of all women, her brand of feminism is primarily designed for middle class and professional women who want to pursue "careers" without the hassles of children. Hence, Hillary supports an unlimited right to abortion. She supports "expanded access to family planning services, including for low-income women" (i.e., Hillary wants to encourage poor and minority women to "empower" themselves by having fewer children). She supports comprehensive child care and early education programs. She supports "a dedicated funding stream for age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sex education." And she supports "giving new parents support and training to promote healthy development for their children." In other words, Hillary wants to make it easier for working women to eschew the responsibilities of parenting, either by eliminating children altogether or by having the government take over the duty of raising them.
This is not all. Once women are in the workplace, Hillary complains, "they earn only 77 cents for every dollar men earn." So Hillary intends to "strengthen equal pay laws and end pay disparities between men and women." However, the "77 cents" figure (a common feminist trope) has been debunked countless times, as it is not based on a statistically valid comparison of men and women in the same jobs, with the same credentials and experience. Rather, it is derived by simply comparing the total income earned by women in the workforce with the total income earned by men. Not surprisingly, given that women are more likely to pursue lower-paying jobs and to work fewer hours than men, their total income is lower. Once the correct apples-to-apples comparison is made, the alleged pay disparity between men and women essentially vanishes. But facts do not matter to ideologues like Hillary.
If men and women do not work the same kinds of jobs or the same number of hours, how does Hillary propose to "end pay disparities between men and women"? One way will be to require employers to pay men and women the same wages for "similar" or "equivalent" work, i.e., "comparable worth" rules. Another way will be to require employers to provide more paid time off to primary caregivers (mostly women) who have children or elderly family members to care for. Another way will be to require lenders to "increase access to capital and other support for women-owned business." Businesses which fail to comply with these increasingly stringent regulations will be subjected to punitive legal sanctions. Consequently, instead of one's income being determined by one's productivity, as measured by the marketplace, in Hillary's world it will be determined by government bureaucrats based on feminist-approved notions of "equity." The result, inevitably, will be to reduce economic liberty, growth, and prosperity for all Americans.
Hillary Loves The 70s
As Hillary's campaign platform demonstrates, she seeks to return the country to 1970s-style liberalism, with its limitless faith in the power of government to create a "fair" society in a world characterized by ecological crisis, a zero-sum economy, and diminishing expectations. All of Hillary's major domestic policy initiatives -- socialized medicine, reduced energy consumption, mandating "equality" between the sexes -- come straight from the Democratic playbook of that era.
This was the worldview that Ronald Reagan confronted and defeated more than twenty-five years ago. Reagan recognized that at the heart of contemporary liberalism lies a profound pessimism about the ability of ordinary Americans to manage their own lives in a responsible, productive, and decent manner. Reagan rejected this pessimism with every fiber of his being. This is what people really are referring to when they speak of Reagan's "optimism."
Hillary Clinton will never be mistaken for an optimist like Reagan. She clearly does not believe in the ability of the American people to govern their own lives, make their own decisions, and abide by the consequences of their actions. Turning Reagan's famous aphorism on its head, Hillary believes that government is not the problem, it is the solution.
In 1980 the American people stood up and loudly proclaimed that they still believed in a country based on individual liberty, self-reliance, and limited government, however tattered those notions have become over the years. Hillary Clinton claims they now are "ready" for a new way. Indeed, I believe that the 2008 election will be a referendum, not on the War in Iraq, but on whether the future of this country lies in freedom or socialism. Let's hope the American people make the right choice.