Invisible Hand vs. Clenched Fist
The advance word on President Obama's Thursday jobs speech is: nothing new. According to George Stephanopoulos, it will contain tax cuts for corporations, an infrastructure bank, and the usual pabulum of job training for the unemployed.
The president could take another path, according to Tony Blankley. "He could decide to embrace all the major Republican, Tea Party free-market ideas," as in marginal tax rate cuts, discretionary spending cuts, entitlement cuts, EPA and Dodd-Frank deregulation, Drill Baby Drill, Frack Baby Frack, and death to the NLRB.
Some chance of all that!
The utter failure of Keynesian stimulus is setting up 2012 as a watershed election. Do the voters want a politics that lets business get on with business and start creating jobs? Or do they want, in presidential advisor Alan Krueger's words, more of the "kind of temporary, targeted and responsible policy that has been the hallmark of this administration"? The choice is as clear as it has ever been.
It's a choice that goes back 200 years, to when Adam Smith first proposed that the modern economy seemed to work like an "invisible hand" to regulate selfish behavior into socially beneficial results. We think Smith hit on something new, but he didn't. We humans do what every social animal does: help the world by helping ourselves. But it wasn't long before a rival narrative appeared -- that capitalism was a savage beast laying waste to everything it its path. It would take the clenched fist of the workers, backed up by the intelligence of an educated elite, to prevent this monster from immiserating everyone in its path, from workers to the middle class.
Ever since, the choice for moderns has been this. Do you believe in the Invisible Hand or the Clenched Fist? I'd say the choice is obvious. The Clenched Fist has failed every time it's been tried, from the French Revolution to the Bolshevik Revolution, from the New Deal to the Obama stimulus.
The stock market has something to say about this. Veteran Wall Street hand Sydney Williams III observes that there have been four markets in his lifetime. There was the bull market from 1941 to 1966, the bear market from 1966 to 1982, the bull market from 1982 to 2000, and the bear market from 2000 to the present.
To you and me, it's pretty obvious what has driven the market. In 1941, Dr. New Deal became Dr. Win the War, and business flourished. In 1966, the Great Society/Vietnam War grew government and business wilted. In 1982, the Reagan economic policy began to heal the '70s inflation, and in 2000, easy money combined with compassionate conservatism checked in. It's a no-brainer. The Invisible Hand is good for business and jobs and people. The Clenched Fist hammers everything flat.
The Obama administration economic policy is Clenched Fist from stimulus to ObamaCare to Dodd-Frank. That is why it is failing. Thanks to the Tea Party, the Republicans are returning to Invisible Hand policies. It's our choice. Do we believe in the fist forcing the American people into the government's economic army, or do we believe in giving a hand to the little platoons of voluntary cooperation?
Of course the contest between the Invisible Hand and the Clenched Fist in economic policy is mere by-play. The real battle is shaping up below the radar in the woman's world of relationships and family. Modern conservative women in their Tea Party millions are coalescing into a new moral movement that will end rejecting the clunking Clenched Fist of the authoritarian welfare state.
The only surprise is how long it has taken the girls to rise up. If you want what is best for your children, then why in the world would you send them to a government-run child custodial facility where the custodians' interests run to big pensions and generous health insurance? If you believe in family, then why in the world would you demolish it with government welfare? If you believe in love and relationships, then why would you replace sharing and caring with the rules and regulations of government bureaucracy?
No wonder our liberal friends hate Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann with a ferocity that takes your breath away. They know, at a gut level, these wicked witches of childless feminism, that Palin and Bachmann are water-wielding Dorothys.
You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Oooooh, look out! I'm going! Oooooh! Ooooooh!
Yes, even back in 1939 liberal women had potty-mouths.
The war between the Invisible Hand and the Clenched Fist is not just an American thing. It's global. Here's how it's playing out in newly middle-class India. Writes Gurcharan Das:
[A] significant number of Indians have experienced a palpable betterment in their lives. As a result, the discourse of the nation... [is] changing. People have begun to believe that their future is open, not predetermined, and can be altered by their own actions.
In a predetermined world, change is possible only when the Clenched Fist spreads the wealth. If your "future is open," you believe in the voluntary cooperation of the Invisible Hand. President Obama, please note.
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.