Eyes Left

Barack Obama offered his theory of nation last night in one pithy sentence:

"That's the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper."

As national policy, the two elements of this statement are mutually exclusive: individual responsibility and collectivism cannot be reconciled.

Barack Obama just doesn’t get it. Like all leftists, he fails to appreciate the difference between a suggestion and a command, between a request and a demand. Between opportunity and guarantees. He fails to distinguish between politician and priest. (And aren’t those red and blue portraits just a tad creepy, reminiscent of old Communist Party placards and Che Guevara posters?)

Obama sees tax cuts as "gifts". He considers your income as, first and foremost, the property of the government. He believes that when government declines to deprive a wage earner (or an investor) of the fruits of his effort, that somehow constitutes a windfall. He deprecates economic freedom as "trickle down" and, ominously, avers that he – and government – knows, better than we do, what each of us can afford to do for our necessitous brothers and sisters.

On energy, Obama claims that drilling is a "stop gap", but, in the very next sentence, avers that we should rely upon natural gas, for which, of course, we must drill. He promises to provide massive governmental subsidies to the auto industry to permit it to "re-tool" and $150 billion in governmental largesse for "alternative energy". (So much for any contention that he’s against corporate welfare; he just favors taxpayer gifts to different corporations.) Apparently, entrepreneurs, like Pickens, can’t do this job on their own without taxpayer-funded boodle.

And consider this sneaky promise:

"And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have the exact same opportunities as your sons."

As equal pay is already the law, this sounds like a genuflection to the lunatic "comparable worth" doctrine, in which government will determine the value of each job, to ensure that "women’s work" gets paid the same as "men’s work", and the realities of the market place be damned.

Obama specifically promises massive tax increases – "closing corporate loopholes" (without mentioning any) – and promises a line by line review of the budget to eliminate wasteful programs (without mentioning a single one). This calls to mind Al Gore’s ill-fated effort to "reform" government. Like all leftist efforts at "reform", it came to naught, because, to a Democrat, "reform" means "more". Tax "reform" means more taxes; governmental "reform" means more government. Vote for Obama and that’s what you’ll get: more taxes and more government.

Obama delivers speeches magnificently, but, beyond the platitudes, he reveals himself as a dedicated leftist, the most liberal candidate ever nominated by a major Party. Even George McGovern, the previously undisputed Champeen, in recent commentary in the Journal, makes considerable sense. He actually opposes the excesses of the radical left, like abolition of secret ballot union elections, which Obama supports. Imagine that: the Democrats just nominated a candidate to the left of George McGovern, one who made Hillary Clinton look like a sober and reasonable adult. THAT’S quite an accomplishment

Onmatters economic, Obama’s collectivist proposals present two questions, one empirical, the other philosophical. First, is collectivism, in which government demands that we act "as our brothers’ keepers", consistent with economic prosperity? Second, can it be squared with individual liberty? The answer to both questions is clearly no.

The European-style democratic socialism Obama supports stands revealed as a massive, expensive failure. For years, European economies barely muddled along, mired under the weight of socialist entitlements. French and German unemployment recently dropped to their low points in more than a decade, with a paltry 7.7% of the workforce idle. (One can imagine Obama’s outrage if unemployment came even close to that here) And those European rates are falling precisely because they have been adopting market-based policies, the polar opposite of those Obama proposes.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, Europe’s freest economy, unemployment recently hit a 10 year high – of 5.7%. (The Irish economy suffered under the credit crunch, too.) Put simply, freedom works. At its worst, it’s better than socialism’s best.

The pragmatic lesson is clear: the freer the country, the lower its taxes, the better its economic performance. (Ireland boasts one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world; Obama proposes to massively increase corporate taxes. We in NJ daily witness the baleful effects of Democratic-imposed business taxes: absolutely no job growth – except in government – and a predictably stagnant economy.)

And, philosophically, "individual responsibility" trumps "collective responsibility" every time. While we, as human beings, owe a moral obligation to assist our brothers, no one possess the right to force us to contribute beyond what we believe we can afford. We have the right to put our own kids, our own families, our own needs, and our own desires ahead of someone else’s idea of what we can afford to contribute. Obama spoke of "compassion", but one cannot be compassionate with someone else’s money. If people need help, they have the right to ask; they do not have the right to demand.

If Father Barack wishes to exhort us to greater efforts to comfort the afflicted, he has an absolute right to do so and, with his powerful oratory and magnificent style, perhaps some of us, our consciences suitably pricked, will respond with greater charitable donations. But, we in New Jersey bear the catastrophic consequences of Father Jim’s confusion of the appropriate roles of government and religion; taking those policies national would produce precisely the same cataclysmic results.

For a Party which believes, passionately, that morality has no place in politics – on issues like abortion and homosexuality – query whether the resort to biblical authority in support of enforced charity doesn’t constitute blatant hypocrisy? The left only objects to enforcing someone else’s morality; it suffers not the least compunction in compelling others to adhere to its own.

Obama’s economic policy would, certainly, produce New Jersey-style economic disaster. As Europe abandons the failed policies Obama endorses, we would witness an ironic reversal of fortune, as Germany and France lecture us about the benefits of the free market.

Fortunately, even though the public strongly dislikes George Bush, it appears savvy to the calamitous consequences of electing someone as far to the left as Obama. The people, apparently, understand the wisdom in the old chestnut: "If government is the answer, it must have been a really stupid question." For Obama, government is the answer to every question. He would be a catastrophe for freedom and for prosperity.

Eyes Left