It’s No Longer “the Economy, Stupid” (Part 1 of 2)

‘A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.—— Thomas Jefferson

In a way, it doesn’t matter what the ‘Left’ or any intellectual minority wants — even an enlightened intellectual minority, such as those who advocate individual rights and unhampered capitalism.

What matters the most is what the majority of people are like. A society filled with those of low or questionable character cannot live up to the virtues upheld — and, indeed, required — by a free society. This is where we are as of 2013. Of course, America is not filled with unsound criminals. If it were, civilization would collapse in an instant. But America is no longer a society filled with freedom-loving, responsibility-accepting individualists.

In 1972, Ayn Rand [author of ‘Atlas Shrugged’] wrote favorably about the American sense of life. She defined the American sense of life as a dominant viewpoint in a society that kept people from wanting to be pushed around. She saw it as unlikely that Americans would, in the near future, succumb to a dictatorship or anything like it. She wrote these comments in the aftermath of the overwhelming defeat of George McGovern for President.

McGovern was the Obama of his time. He was a committed and unapologetic statist and socialist; yet more tepid than the arrogant, uncompromising and ruthlessly partisan Obama. Rand correctly ascertained, back in 1972, that if George McGovern could be wiped out in an electoral landslide against the hapless and confused Richard Nixon, then there was indeed hope for the country. Today that’s not nearly so certain.

If you think of Obama as the modern-day George McGovern — the furthest left the Democratic Party had gone up to that time, with his calls for nationalized medicine and a guaranteed income for all —then it’s appropriate to say George McGovern has now won election and, almost unbelievably, reelection to the American presidency.

We’re past the point where it makes any sense to talk about just politics. Politics is the final consequence of the trends and tendencies in a culture. A ‘culture’ refers to the dominant majority of the people in a society, along with the institutions and trends they opt to follow. In 2012, the American people made one thing abundantly clear through the electoral process: The economy is less important than the government ‘safety net.’

Everyone is aware that the economy has not recovered on Barack Obama’s watch or because of his policies. However, on his watch, the national debt has grown faster and larger than it did from the presidency of George Washington up to and including Bill Clinton. For the first time in history, especially since becoming a world economic power more than a century ago, the United States has lost its top rating as a sound market with a sound currency.

What’s most significant about this development is not that Americans don’t give all the blame for this to Obama. The spending and Big Government trends pre-date him, up through and including his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, who, with the help of his Republican Congress, spent like the leftist Presidents of the 1930s and 1960s.

What is frighteningly significant is that these economic trends do not matter to voters. People say in poll after poll that they believe America is on the wrong track. Yet they voted for more of Obama’s wrecking-ball policies. Why? Because it’s no longer the economy. It’s now the social safety net.

Mitt Romney was not the issue, either. It’s unlikely Romney would have been able or willing to even make a dent in the already irredeemably out of control entitlement state in which Americans now find themselves ensnared, while refusing to admit it. But Romney did at least offer an opportunity to negate what’s wrong. It gave Americans an opportunity to at least say ‘no’ to dogmatic, consistent socialization and nationalization of the economy, even if the alternative was not yet very clear.

To vote against Obama was a no-brainer. It was the very least the majority of the American people could and should have done, not unlike what they did in 1972 with George McGovern. Yet the result was very much the opposite.

In fact, there’s no need for politicians or anyone else to argue for the ‘greater good’ versus any other good. The good of the individual is the good of the society. When individual rights are left intact, and the economy left free, the best and brightest are free to think, produce, make a profit, create jobs and do all those things that politicians claim that politicians do — but don’t, and can’t: These things arise only out of the private sector.

What is it that makes the private sector better than government, anyway? It’s the free sector, or relatively free, although even that is starting to change since Obama. The private sector is where people are free to think, innovate, make a profit, take risks, sometimes win big or lose big, otherwise just do OK, but above all, be free.

When the private sector is undercut or destroyed, freedom is undercut and destroyed. Look, for example, at the field of education, with its minimal and hampered private sector. How impressive are the results of education, with trillions of government dollars being spent and borrowed year and after year?

Ditto with the postal service. Ditto with government-run airports. Ditto with the government-run medical care we already have, especially Medicare which cannot sustain itself beyond another few years — and even then requires seniors to purchase supplemental insurance just to have reasonable coverage.

When you hamper freedom, including economic freedom, the results are even worse. Most Americans seem to have the sense to grasp this much. But they avert their gaze when it comes time to vote. Why? Because they’re afraid. They prefer to be taken care of. Yes, a majority still goes to work, but many do so resentfully. Many do so with resentment that someone, somewhere, might be making more money than they do. This is considered an injustice in and of itself. This is the ‘us against them’ mentality to which Obama and other politicians like him pander —and it’s working.

It’s time to stop criticizing politicians for doing what works and what sells. The people to criticize are the ones who buy it. They’re buying it at the expense of their own freedom, and yours, and mine. Maybe they don’t care about their own freedom, and that’s their loss. But by what right do they vote away yours and mine?

Obama speaks sanctimoniously to this issue by insisting that we are our brothers’ keepers — and that it’s the government’s job to make it so. Your neighbors in society vote for this idea and now make up the majority, unlike back in 1972. Even if they still work and take responsibility for much of their lives, they like the idea that someone else will take care of them, if they need it. They’d never admit it and they’d never put it this way, but in effect they’re just fine with the idea of someone else being forced to take care of them, should circumstances require it. This is the beginning of the end of freedom. The minute a majority of people in a society start to feel entitled to Barack’s baby-sitting service, that’s the beginning of the end of that society.

Concluded in tomorrow’s column.

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