The Right Ideas Can Save America

If you saw somebody trying to put out a fire with gasoline, your reaction would most likely be: “Stop!” If the person turned to you and said, “Well, I didn’t start the fire!” you’d be dumbfounded. Perhaps that’s why 70 percent or more of the nation is now against the man unfortunately holding office as President. Obama claims that Bush’s policies led to the current economic mess. Exactly what did Bush do differently, in principle, from what Obama has been doing? Bush expanded the role of government in health care (via the prescription drugs program). Bush expanded the role of government in the mortgage and financial industry. Bush imposed massive arbitrary and contradictory regulations on American business, rationalized by the Enron scandal in 2002. Bush redistributed hundreds of billions of tax dollars into subsidizing the financial industry, in order to save itself from errors the government forced (or at least incentivized) it to make. What exactly has Obama done differently from Bush, other than more of the same — much more of the same, at a massively higher price both in the loss of dollars and the loss of individual freedoms? If you want to blame everything on the President in office, then think of it this way: Bush (and his Republican Congress) slowly started a fire that developed into a bonfire over a six-year period. Obama (and his Democratic Congress) turned that bonfire into a conflagration spanning all of America if not the entire globe, risking all of civilization as we have known it our entire lives. (I won’t even comment here on his foreign and defense policies). He’s throwing gasoline into that fire, making it bigger, and saying that he’s helping — and by the way, he didn’t start this whole fire. In what comes across as a perverse attempt at dark humor, he sends his Vice President around the nation to hail this all as a great “summer of recovery.”

It’s no wonder Americans are beyond fed up. Unfortunately, people have to understand what the problem is. They must understand which wrong ideas led to wrong results, in practice. Obama’s fire is being caused by socialism. The full impact of Obama’s socialist policies will not be felt until the coming year, or two or three. If we elect a Republican Congress, most Americans will blame that Congress for the worsening problems as much as they now blame Obama — unless people understand what caused the fire. The lesson of Bush and Obama (not to mention the bulk of government policy in the United States going back to at least the 1930s) is that socialism-lite (Bush) doesn’t work, and all out socialism (Obama-Pelosi) works even less. What works is what’s moral: Freedom, individual rights, a private property order in a self-responsible, profit-based system and a government limited to protecting people from violence and outright fraud, nothing else. We didn’t get that under Bush and we’re getting even less of that under Obama. Many Independents and all of the Republicans I talk to think that “ideology” is a dirty word. In other words, they claim that ideas don’t matter and the best way to win elections — and save the country — is to have no ideas at all or, if you have them, to never dare say them aloud because that will offend people and, heavens no, you can’t do that.

On the contrary: Ideas move man, and man moves the world. If man runs out of good ideas, then man stops moving. And the world stops moving with him.