Battling Inequality with the President
In his speech on "economic mobility" on December 4, 2013, the president used the word "inequality" 26 times and "growth" only 9 times. So you can see where he's coming from.
President Obama did his usual government-is-good recitation: Lincoln did land-grant colleges, Teddy Roosevelt did the eight-hour day, FDR did Social Security, LBJ did Medicare/Medicaid.
So post World War II, the "economic ground felt stable and secure for most Americans, and the future looked brighter than the past." But "starting in the late-1970s this social compact started to unravel."
As values of community broke down, and competitive pressure increased, businesses lobbied Washington to weaken unions and the value of the minimum wage. As a trickle-down ideology became more prominent, taxes were slashed for the wealthiest, while investments in things that make us all richer, like schools and infrastructure, were allowed to wither. And for a certain period of time, we could ignore this weakening economic foundation, in part because more families were relying on two earners as women entered the workforce. We took on more debt financed by a juiced-up housing market. But when the music stopped, and the crisis hit, millions of families were stripped of whatever cushion they had left.
One thing you can say for President Obama: he knows how to recite the liberal narrative of the story so far. But, see here, Mr. President: How do you know you are right? Because I, and a million conservatives, have a different experience of the last 40 years. Here's my story-so-far:
"As values of community broke down from burgeoning government benefits and as overpriced union labor drove marquee industrial corporations into bankruptcy, Ronald Reagan revived the nation from stagflation with sound money, simplified taxes with lower rates, and less government regulation. While the Reagan revolution made us all richer, government employee unions hand in glove with corrupt politicians cranked government employee compensation 50 percent above private sector workers and promised unaffordable government pensions. Meanwhile education outcomes stagnated from bureaucratic bloat, and infrastructure was allowed to wither as liberals declared war on the automobile. Liberals forced banks to issue mortgages to bad credit risks, and drove a generation of students into debt. And for a certain period of time, we could ignore this weakening economic foundation. But seduced by easy credit and a juiced-up housing market, too many families used their home as an ATM so when the music stopped, and the crisis hit, millions of families were stripped of their homes, their jobs, and their dignity.
"Since the crash, during the last five years, things have gone from bad to worse. As the Fed prints money like a counterfeiter, the rich get richer and their stocks skyrocket; ordinary seniors hang onto their jobs because the low interest rates mean they can't retire, and twentysomethings struggle to find any job. Cities are going broke and retirees are losing their government pensions. The risky redistributionist scheme called Obamacare is stripping people of their health plans, their full-time jobs, and their doctors. Crony capitalists gorge on government contracts and subsidies while liberal activists from sea to shining sea work to smother the horizontal drilling revolution in its cradle."
We notice, Mr. President, that you are pretty free with citing this "study" or that theory in support of your agenda for more government programs. But government is force. How good is this study or that theory you cite? Good enough to justify forcing the American people under its yoke? Let's cite the countervailing view of Richard Feynman, a fellow Nobel laureate of yours, from The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.
[W]e find that the statements of science are not what is true and what is not true, but... "It is very much more likely that so and so is true than it is not true"; or "such as such is almost certain but there is still a little bit of doubt"; or - at the other extreme -- "well, we really do not know."
In all there are 19 citations for "Doubt" in the index of Feynman's book. Tell that to the climate scientists, Mr. President.
The difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals use their theories to justify more government -- more force -- and conservatives use their theories to justify less government -- less force.
You tell me Mr. President. On who should we put the burden of proof? On the folks proposing more government? Or the folks proposing less government?
I have my own little theory about inequality, Mr. President. When the ruling class comes rolling into town with some new government plan for fundamental transformation, the only sure bet is that the ruling class will come out smelling like a rose, with more BMWs, more agencies, more lawyering, more lobbyists -- and more inequality.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. Get his Road to the Middle Class.