Obama's Freeloader Economy

If you want to understand the deep political philosophy underneath the Obama administration's random-walk economic policy, it is this: freeloading.

When you really try to cudgel your brain in a good-faith effort to understand liberals, and try to understand the talk about "inequality" and "exploitation," that's the answer.  Springtime for freeloaders.  Summer, autumn, winter, all year round for freeloaders.  It's the new thing for getting ahead in the predator class.

What, after all, is the NRLB-union gang tackle on Boeing -- the idea that opening a union-free plant in South Carolina is an unfair labor practice?  How come, all of a sudden after Boeing agrees to build the Boeing 737-MAX in union-rich Renton, Washington, everything is suddenly copacetic?  It's pretty obvious.  Keep those union jobs in Washington State or else.

What about the raid on Gibson Guitar?  What about the half-billion-dollar sinkhole called Solyndra?  What about the forests of wind turbines, each a cozy subsidy nest for some well-fledged crony capitalist?  Freeloaders all, and they all vote for Democrats.

You wouldn't want people to go running around doing things without permission.  They might figure out that they don't need to pay a powerful patron to play in Washington.  They might decide to earn an honest living and forget all about rent-seeking and freeloading.

I've been reading the excellent new Steven Pinker title, The Better Angels of Our Nature.  It's all about the decline of violence in humans over the millennia.  Back in the good old days of hunter-gatherers, violence was epidemic.  You'd send the young men for a dawn raid on the neighboring village, and they'd kill everyone.  Of course they would, because any survivors could start a war of vengeance.  Anyway, when land was wealth, the chaps in the other village were competing for a fixed resource: better get rid of them now.  Life was a zero-sum game, and that left "predation as the only way people could add to their wealth."  Violence, according to Pinker, "is always strategic."  People choose violence only "when the expected benefits outweigh the expected costs."  Some deniers still think that way.

But the science is in on this.

Modern capitalism is different.  Capitalism is a positive-sum game, because specialization and commerce allow people to trade surpluses, and everyone benefits.  Businessmen also learn to be nice to people because otherwise a competitor can woo their customers away.  Why would you want to make war on your customers and destroy that long-term relationship that benefits you both?

So violence comes down, from a violent death rate of maybe 500 deaths per 100,000 population per year for hunter-gatherers to the 10 deaths per 100,000 in northwestern Europe in 1600, and the 1 to 5 deaths per 100,000 per year of the developed nations today.  Everything is fine now, right?

Not quite.  These days, with states controlling violence, there is a new "strategic" temptation.  You don't need to launch a dawn raid on the neighboring village or nation any more.  Not when you can use government to bully or guilt-trip your neighbor into letting you freeload.

Government is force; politics is talking about force.  People choose force only "when the expected benefits outweigh the expected costs."  Get control of the government and you can launch a career of strategic violence, only these days, with humans so pacified, you don't actually have to show the people your guns and your instruments of torture.  You just call people racist or mean-spirited.  Then, while they are still embarrassed and red-faced, you pass a law to pick their pockets.  Freeloading: it's what President Obama and his Chicago crowd are all about.

To believe in freeloading, you need to be a bitter clinger hanging onto a pre-modern worldview that experiences a zero-sum world of "inequality" and "exploitation," where the only way to get ahead is to put the other guy behind.

Whether it is bullying people to buy mercury-filled light bulbs, or bullying Boeing to sign up for more union labor, or bullying people into government health care, or forcing the American people to pay good money to crony solar and wind capitalists, or jacking up the price of energy to save the planet, or bullying millionaires and billionaires into coughing up more taxes, it's the new dance at the predator's ball.

Let's have a national conversation.  Let's talk about big government; let's talk about freeloaders; let's talk about crony capitalists.  Let's divide the nation.  Let's separate the makers from the takers, the freeloaders from the workers, the exploiters from the exploited, the retire-at-55 chaps from the work-till-you-die Walmart greeters, the employment-at-will folks from the lifetime-tenure folks, the rent-seekers from the wealth-creators, the road warriors from the class warriors.

The wonderful thing about President Obama is that he has concentrated our minds on all this.  Thanks, Barack.  For the first time in my life, I am really proud of liberals.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  See his usgoevernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us.  At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.

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