We ate supper and then went to bed before 8 p.m. and woke up at 5:30 this morning. Now, why do I include such seemingly irrelevant details when I am writing about President Obama's speech? I say it because I did a very useful thing when Obama was giving his supposed "epic" address: sleeping soundly.
No, I did not hear a word Obama said, and I will admit that even had I been awake, I either would have had the TV off (which is more likely, given that we are not television watchers), or might have watched something entertaining, or even semi-educational, like the Ice Truckers.
Since I knew that the New York Times and Paul Krugman were on the job, I would have all that I need for commentary today and I must say that these folks did not disappoint. When I read words like "bold" and "passionately" and "authoritative," I knew that I had come to a place that was just one step below the White House PR room.
Hey, Obama might be presiding over the destruction of the U.S. economy, its currency, and its social fabric, but they still love him at the NYT and Princeton. So, let us deconstruct a bit what Obama has said, along with the commentary from the Expensive Seats at the NYT. (I will deal directly with Krugman's "Setting their hair on fire" column in a later post.)
Before taking a brief look at Obama's proposals, however, let me first deal with something the editors declared, which tells me that this whole thing is a religious exercise with these very secular folks:
Though he went on too long, he was authoritative in demanding that Congress pass his plan quickly and in laying out its benefits for average Americans. He directly, even mockingly, challenged the increasingly nihilistic Republican view that government’s very presence is noxious. Just as Lincoln helped start the transcontinental railroad and land-grant colleges, he said, the two parties must together push the country past its economic crisis. Waiting for the next election will waste valuable time, he said. (Emphasis mine)I decided to look up the meaning of "nihilism" and found that it is a negation of the very meaning of life or "that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value." So, according to these supposedly secular people, government itself is the meaning of life, and even to question the role of the state in our lives is to engage in "nihilism."
To be honest, that tells me that the editors are arguing this whole issue from a religious viewpoint. It is not enough that something needs to be done to end this whole downturn, but it MUST BE DONE through the mechanisms of the State, or else such action will be meaningless.
That point cannot be ignored. The U.S. economy suffers from a dearth of new private capital investment in large part because we have a government full of people that are hostile to private capital investment, or at least private capital investment that does not coincide with the State's various schemes of "green energy" or some other aspect of Crony Capitalism. The editors of the NYT, who are part of the Political Class in this country, simply cannot stand the very idea of people acting in a way that both creates wealth and does it without letting members of that odious class "wet their beaks."
Thus, what we get are various schemes in which the government tries to pull yet another rabbit out of the hat. For all the talk of "boldness," we get more of the same: more money to state governments to prop up state employee unions for another year, more "infrastructure" schemes to build roads and tunnels to nowhere and to prop up (What else?) more labor unions, and short-term tax and credit schemes that might make it less expensive to currently hire employees, but do absolutely nothing to promote the very long-term capital investment that we need.
This last point is most instructive, because what the NYT and the Political Classes are demanding are nothing less than a bunch of short-term "fixes" that over time will "fix" less and less. There is no use trying to explain to these people what an economy really is because, frankly, they already have the answer: a machine that ultimately funnels money and power to the Political Classes. Anything else is unacceptable, and when we see the Mouthpiece of the Political Classes, the NYT, declare that even to question the role of the State is to question Meaning Itself, then we can be assured that Washington and those who believe that the nation's capital is as much a symbol of Religious Faith as Mecca is to the Moslems or Jerusalem to Judaism, then there really is nothing more to discuss.
As for the speech, as I said before, Obama is demanding that the Depression continue. He clearly is not interested in doing anything to improve the economy that actually might require that he and his cronies get themselves out of the picture.
No, Obama on Thursday night declared that his administration is about short-term schemes to continue the bogus magic show that has become the White House, Congress, and the rest of Washington. In the end, it is not about the economy at all; it is about the very people who have been dragging down the hopes and dreams of others continuing to make sure that they are on the lifeboats when the Titanic sinks.