The new normal


Filed Under Domestic Policy on Jul 7 

President Obama seems guided, above all else, by a desire to impart “social justice” to the American society. Fairness is an overriding concern of his: fairness to all citizens, a desire to make sure no one falls through the cracks, that everyone has all of life’s minimum necessities, provided and guaranteed by the Federal Government.

He is also driven to make certain that people are satisfied by the appearance of fairness, as though that appearance will have a calming, satisfying effect on peoples’ outlooks and attitudes. In every economic speech, he makes repeated references to millionaires and billionaires paying a bit more in taxes “because they can afford it.” As another example, he just used the phrase “corporate jet owners” six times in a speech about the need to increase taxes in order to close our deficit, implying that those people can afford it.

Early in his administration when he was talking about raising the capital gains tax, he was pressed by a reporter about the fact that Government revenues have generally gone up the lower the capital gains tax is, because the lower that tax, the more economic trading/buying/selling activity takes place, and therefore, the greater the amount of tax revenues that are generated. It’s like the old merchant’s cliché: “Three nickels beats one dime every day of the week!”

His response was fascinating and illuminating: “It’s not about revenues; it’s about fairness.” In other words, those darned fat-cat traders, they shouldn’t make that kind of money, even if their activity is good for the economy and brings in lots of dough to the Government.

Fairness. Appearance.

That’s President Obama’s world, that’s his outlook, that’s his approach. Fairness. Social justice.

It’s at odds with the more pure capitalistic/competitive economy/society we’ve had for the previous 232 years. The old approach created more jobs, generated more wealth and offered more opportunities to more people. We’ve always had a social safety net of welfare, food stamps, unemployment compensation, AFDC, Head Start, you name it, we’ve had (and still have) it. So it’s not as if we were previously a ruthless, heartless country where a significant number of people drowned from cruel neglect. And we’ve always tried to fine-tune that safety net for better effect.

But President Obama sees a need for even greater Government guarantees and assistance, at the expense of the free-market attributes that we’d previously enjoyed. A leveling of the playing field, according to his arbitrary view of fairness and what people deserve to earn or keep or have.

It’s the classic liberal view of the finite-sized economic pie, which must be divided up equally. Conservatives always look to increase the size of the pie itself, so everyone gets a bigger absolute serving, while ignoring the relative percentage (which is totally irrelevant) of the pie that any one group does or doesn’t get.

As I’ve said many times, he’s not evil, he’s not trying to hatch some clever, underhanded plot to destroy the country, and he doesn’t hate America. But given his non-business, “community-organizer,” preferential-treatment background, he simply looks at things differently, and always will.

Greater than 8% unemployment, high energy costs, a reduced military capacity, more feel-good (but ineffective and economically counter-productive) environmental policies, a lackluster housing/retail market, fewer flat-out smash personal successes, but (hopefully) fewer flat-out personal failures—this is the “New Normal.”

Welcome to Obama’s World. Brought to you with the best of intentions.