As our Republic considers the specter of buyer's remorse after November 4, voters contemplate what an Obama presidency with a Reid/Pelosi Congress might mean for its future.
One contribution is an archived 2001 interview from WBEZ, a Chicago NPR affiliate, in which then-state legislator Barack Obama speaks to the question of redistributive economic policies as the unfinished work of the civil rights movement. We invite gentle readers to turn away from the screen below, which annoyingly offers comments on what is obvious from listening, and merely listen:
Another indicator is Rep. Barney Frank's comment that he expects to finance increased infrastructure spending and unemployment benefits with a 25% cut in military spending.
Another is an opinion article in today's WSJ (still arriving free on the SWNID driveway: is this a preview of socialism under Obama--free newspapers for Republicans?), part of a series comparing the two candidates' positions, that details Obama's labor policies, which would give the United States its most onerously anti-growth labor laws in its history.
An analytical article in the same paper notes that historically the only means to "close the gap between the rich and the middle class" is to go through a prolonged recession. We know which party is aiming to do that, and which is depending on higher taxes on those soon-to-be-less-rich folk to finance what John Kerry calls "New Deal II."
And Democratic Party ads continue to promote trade protectionism as a means of economic growth. Mr. Smoot and Mr. Hawley, call your publicists.
As the Big Three automobile manufacturers--the last relics of the post-Depression, post-WWII economy in which highly unionized American manufacturers managed profitability because the rest of the world's manufacturing capacity was either destroyed by war or didn't exist yet--break under the burden of their uncompetitive obligations to workers and retirees, the revitalized liberal wing of the Democratic Party salivates at the opportunity to finish the work that FDR started.
There has arisen a generation that knows not the 1970s, when policies like these had what we hoped was their last appearance. But the experience of the United States in that regard is nothing as compared to our European--and especially British--cousins, whose miserable experiences we seem determined to imitate. To impoverish a nation, one need merely remove the natural incentives to be productive and soften the natural disincentives to be unproductive.
A personal correspondent recently complained to us that when elected, the Democrats will once again save the country and once again get no credit for it. We say that credit should be given where it's due. We duly credit Johnson and Carter for the economic impact of their policies: stagflation. We duly credit Nixon's wage and price controls for their miserable contribution as well. We duly credit Clinton for acceding to political and economic reality under a Republican Congress by reducing capital gains taxes, passing NAFTA and welfare reform, and restraining government spending. We credit Reagan with having changed the debate, though it now seems not once for all, and so changing the economic direction of the country for some 25 years, a move of which everyone in the world is currently a beneficiary, if not for long.
And we will credit the once-and-future Democrats for whatever they will do, and the American electorate for noticing and responding . . . if not in this election, then perhaps in the next.
But back to Obama. His notion of redistribution as the endgame of civil rights strikes us not just as self-defeating but also as completely paternalistic. Do people of color, long the objects of discrimination in our Republic, suffer from a shortage of redistribution or a shortage of opportunity? Not a member of the minority community, we still find it condescending that Obama, himself not the descendant of plantation slaves who have experienced the worst of American racism, implies that the minority community is largely incapable of attaining equality by any means besides redistribution.