Liberal History from Osawatomie Bam
It is still a couple of months until Groundhog Day, but in Kansas, Osawatomie Bam recently popped up to take a look at the economic weather. Folks say that if he sees his shadow, it means another two years of economic headwinds.
But the Bamster didn't look for his shadow. He just gave the assembled students a professorial lesson in "liberal history." You know what I mean: heroic liberal activists pass liberal social programs saving working stiffs (or more recently, women and minorities) from a fate worse than death. Here's Professor Obama with today's Moment in Liberal History:
At the turn of the last century, when a nation of farmers was transitioning to become the world's industrial giant, we had to decide: Would we settle for a country where most of the new railroads and factories were being controlled by a few giant monopolies that kept prices high and wages low?
Mr. President: are we talking about Standard Oil, which cut illuminating oil from $0.80 to $0.08 per gallon and invented the corporate pension? Or US Steel, which cut steel prices by two-thirds?
Because there were people who thought massive inequality and exploitation of people was just the price you pay for progress.
Mr. President: here's a tip. The only people who think about "inequality" are lefties and academics. But I repeat myself.
Theodore Roosevelt disagreed...
And so he busted up monopolies, forcing those companies to compete for consumers with better services and better prices. And today, they still must. He fought to make sure businesses couldn't profit by exploiting children or selling food or medicine that wasn't safe. And today, they still can't.
Agreed. No child is left behind today. Today, we confine all children in child-custodial facilities with no time off for good behavior. They are so unexploited that half of them need remedial courses when they get to college.
The learned professor continues:
Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history.
You mean the tax cuts that had the rich paying the biggest share of income tax in recent years? Your lesson-planners could look it up.
Of course, these days, the postmodernists have de-legitimized history as a mere "narrative," a naked apology for power. I can see their point. Send us more money, says the president after his history lesson, so his administration can inflate the higher-ed bubble just like Fannie and Freddie and the housing bubble.
In the interest of balance, I think we need some "conservative history" for a change. It is different from liberal history, because it doesn't make heroes out of politicians, but instead portrays politicians as ordinary men with ideas. So here goes.
Back in the Dark Ages, the best and the brightest all agreed that the government had to control the economy and pile up gold as a store of national wealth. But then along came Adam Smith. He reckoned that the economy could run itself, under law, because an Invisible Hand prodded producers to serve the interest of the consumers. But the best and the brightest of the 1840s said that the new manufacturies were just exploitation.
Then we entered the Age of the Nobodies. There were the nobodies that invented power textile looms, steam engines, railways. There was the store clerk who got his engineers to invent safe, chemistry-based oil-refining, the telegraph clerk who turned steel-making from a craft (samurai swordmaking) into a global industry that mass-produced steel for railways, ships, and skyscrapers.
Then, just as the best and brightest got their copies of Karl Marx's Kapital hot off the presses, three different economists ground his labor theory of value into hamburger with marginal economics. The best and the brightest lost interest in economics.
Never mind. The new action was all in jumped-up nobodies inventing airplanes. There was the nasty Crash of 1907, but an aging banker bailed out the nation with the help of the richest men in America. Then a nobody invented the assembly line for mass-producing automobiles for the masses.
After the Crash of 1929, the best and the brightest directed a failed government bailout in the 1930s and won a world war in the 1940s. And the economy grew briskly in the 1950s and 1960s. But then the best and the brightest of the 1960s decided on a war in Asia and a War on Poverty at the same time. The result was stagflation until a B-movie actor got elected president. America promptly vaulted into a Reaganomical 20-year boom until the best and the brightest of the 1990s, carefully shielded from dangerous ideas by denialist government-sponsored universities (GSUs), decided that they could allocate housing mortgage credit better than the market; then they got to elect one of their own in 2008.
To be continued. And how does the economy look to you today, Osawatomie Bam?
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.