June 05, 2011

Let Them Eat (Even Less ) Cake!

It is an article of faith among Socialists that Socialism cannot possibly be wrong. When any socialistic policy is failing, the only possible explanation must be that socialism has not had sufficient time to work its magic, that insufficient socialism has been applied, or that evil capitalists are hindering ultimate, inevitable success, often by their mere existence.

Economic news has been so bad of late that the Lamestream Media has, for the most part, dropped the modifier “unexpected”—as in “Huge Drop in Home Values Unexpected,” or “Unexpected Record High Unemployment Surprises Obama Administration”--from its coverage of the death spiral of Mr. Obama’s socialistic economic policies. Even so, Mr. Obama and his minions continue to claim that it’s only a “bump” on that glorious revolutionary highway to complete recovery. They claim that they “saved or created” this or that number of jobs, and that without their brilliant socialistic manipulations, things would be much worse. That we are already broke and borrowing at the rate of billions per hour means nothing to the determined Socialist, for there is no possibility but the ultimate triumph of Socialism.

This pathology—for it is nothing less—is individually debilitating. Combined with a pathological narcissism the likes of which America has, prior to the advent of Mr. Obama, never experienced, it is likely to debilitate the nation.

A recent rare accidental Administration truth-telling (here) illustrates the degree to which one may become so impaired that reality becomes a nothing more than an infinitely changeable concept, which may transmogrify into whatever shape is politically useful from moment to moment. Socialism rejects conventional reality and constructs its own. Spending far more money than you have therefore becomes merely an opportunity to print and borrow money and to endlessly spend the money that isn’t real.

Consider the case of the “let them eat cake” attorney. Obama Solicitor General Neal Katyal appeared before the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on June 1 to defend the ObamaCare Individual Mandate. The mandate requires every American to buy government approved insurance or be fined by the IRS. Never before in American history has the federal government tried to assume the power to force Americans to buy a consumer product against their will. The Obama Administration seeks to justify it under the Commerce Clause. The law does have a very limited “poverty” exception, which exempts some from buying insurance.

Under questioning from the court Katyal said that the justices were playing a “game” which he could also play, and said that people could avoid the mandate simply by choosing to make less money.

People can choose to make less money. It is now well known that Mr. Obama’s claim that those who like their current insurance can keep it is, and always was, a lie. For most Americans, ObamaCare means that their insurance rates will go up, substantially up, because they must buy policies mandated by the government which will inevitably include coverage they neither want nor need.

The magic Socialistic “Stimulus” package that was guaranteed to keep unemployment below 8% is universally acknowledged as a complete failure. Official unemployment is now at 9.1%, but in reality, it’s nearly 16%. People are struggling to find any work. More Americans are on food stamps than at any time in American history. Gas and food prices are skyrocketing—just as Mr. Obama promised during the campaign—and the dollar is being seriously devalued by mass printings of greenbacks (Quantitative Easing). We’ve already had QE1 and QE2 and our tax-avoiding Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is planning QE3.

The private sector needs to create a huge number of good paying jobs—people making more, not less money—but Mr. Obama’s lunatic socialistic policies prevent it. And against this backdrop, the Solicitor General of the United States argues that Americans can avoid having to pay far more of their rapidly deflating incomes in unwanted and unnecessary insurance by voluntarily choosing to make less money.

It is possible that Mr. Katyal, as a lawyer, is merely employing whatever outlandish argument popped into his head at the moment in the service of defending the indefensible. Lawyers do have to do that upon occasion. However, it is more likely that for Mr. Katyal, as a good Socialist, “The People” exist only as an abstraction in service to the State. It may not occur to him that people simply cannot, indeed will not, choose to lower their incomes. They certainly do not consider our economic situation a game, individually or collectively. For most Americans, less income would mean the loss of their homes, cars, and a descent into genuine poverty and misery. Considering the times, it is amazing that any rational, humane Administration official would even think such a thing, to say nothing of saying it. However, Socialism is neither humane nor rational.

But I’m sure that if a sufficient number of Americans voluntarily lower their income, the economy, which is experiencing momentary “bumps,” will be greatly stimulated. All you have to do is believe in the ultimate triumph of Socialism—unless of course, you’re one of those Capitalists who actually believe in object reality. But who does that anymore in this brave new Age of Obama?

Posted by MikeM at June 5, 2011 10:13 PM

- What's your definition of socialism? Because it either isn't accurate or doesn't include the Obama admin.

- How many jobs have been created in the last 14 months? In the last 6? How many jobs were being lost when Obama took office? 2 million +, 1 million +, 700,000. Them's the facts. Conservative policies nearly destroyed the economy, and Obama's had to fight to correct it. And it's working.

- In regards to Mr. Katyal: did you read the article you linked? It's obvious he's responding to a specific scenario established by an appeals court judge. The judge tried to claim that there's no exit option against the mandate. The SG explained there was. He was in no way advocating people do so; he was responding to a specific argument with a specific logic, and he provided a response that showed that logic was not true.

- Why do you consider Katyal a socialist? What evidence do you have?

Posted by: Hoo haw at June 6, 2011 12:48 AM

Dear Hoo Haw:

Good questions; thanks for asking. It is interesting to note that while the Obama Administration pursues policies that are surely socialistic, its supporters take great public offense when anyone identifies them as such. Socialism is essentially Communism-lite. It is characterized by an unshakeable belief in the primacy and superiority of government over the individual. It seeks to greatly increase government size power at the expense of individual liberty, and as I pointed out, while producing much rhetoric about benefiting "the people," it cares little or not at all for the individuals who comprise "the people." It is also characterized by the employment of class warfare. Oh, yes, redistribution of wealth also figures prominently. All of this, Mr. Obama has said and done, as have his various czars and bureaucrats.

As to jobs "created or saved," by the Obama Administration, let's keep in mind that Democrats controlled the Congress for the final two years of the Bush Presidency, and that much of our economic difficulty was brought about by the bursting of the housing bubble, which was primarily a Dem. creation, though many feckless Republicans either assisted or did little to oppose it. In fact, Mr. Bush repeatedly warned Congress about the mess Fanny and Freddy were creating, but was, of course ignored. Many of the jobs you mention have been federal government jobs, jobs that create no wealth and are, through taxes, a drain on the economy. In any economic cycle, some jobs will be lost, some gained, but there is no doubt that we are gaining an insufficient number for recovery, and by an enormous margin. If Mr. Obama's policies are in fact, working, why do we keep hearing horrendously bad economic news, week after week? Oh yes, and one surely can't argue with a straight face that taking over 2/3 of the American auto industry while stiffing the legal rights of shareholders is a capitalist innovation.

As to Mr, Katyal, I did indeed read the article I linked, and I noted specifically that he might be merely making a lawyerly argument. My point was that while there is technically an "exit option" as you put it, the article itself makes clear that its not really an option at all, and is certainly impractical for virtually anyone.

My implication is that such comments are in line with Socialist thought, and there is more than sufficient precedence for establishing that simple proposition. Surely you know that a great many Socialists are or have been members of the Obama Administration, people such as self described Communist Van Jones or Anita Dunn who so admires Mao, the most prolific mass murderer in history. Do I know specifically that Mr. Katyal is a self-described Socialist? No, however, my point was, again, that his comment would be what one would expect a good Socialist to think and say.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.

Posted by: Mike Mc at June 6, 2011 09:49 AM
Socialism is essentially Communism-lite.

and fascism is socialism-lite: supposedly controlling the means of production by the state without actually taking them over. The end result is the same--corruption at the top by either the Party or the Party and the rent-seeking rich.

As for conservative policies nearly destroying our economy--I cannot wait for the return of the debate over whether 4% or 5% unemployment constitutes full employment. But that will not happen for a long time as the country works its way out from under the burden enthusiastically generated by the current administration.

Posted by: iconoclast at June 6, 2011 11:34 AM

Thanks for responding.

As I predicted, your definition of socialism is incorrect. The things you list can certainly be aspects of a socialistic system, but that do not necessarily constitute one (ie they are necessary but not sufficient conditions). It's hard to point to specific definitions of terms in political philosophy since everyone has a slightly different take, but check Wikipedia. Socialism involves the state taking over the means of production. It is a different economic arrangement than capitalism. We obviously are nowhere near having something like that in the US, and saying we are is silly.

As for the auto takeover, that arrangement was agreed to by the firms that were taken over (the offer was extended to Ford, but they didn't take it). Those firms are now profitable, and are paying back the government money used to keep it afloat. It was a necessary move, since those firms would have gone under and taken the other US car firms with it, losing hundreds of thousands of jobs and adding another crater to an economy that could ill afford it. And, regardless of anything else, the government stating conditions for reform in a firm it's lending money to does not equal a nationwide Socialist economy.

As for jobs, the only thing you can say to the fact that they numbers have been drastically reversed is that "we're not all the way there yet". Duh. We're working ourselves out of the worst economic disaster of the past 80 years. It takes time, and Obama deserves credit for walking the economy back from the edge of a cliff the fall from which would have been absolutely catastrophic.

Which gets us to the cause of the crisis: conservative policies. There's been lots commentary on this, most of which agrees that the Fannie/Freddie/CRA actions did make things worse than they would have been, but weren't the cause of the crisis. See Richard Posner and Alan Greenspan, the former the founder of the Law and Economics movement and a very very conservative appeals judge appointed by Reagan, the latter literally in bed with Ayn Rand. They both agree that conservative economic policy caused the housing bubble and the economic environment that caused a crisis after the bubble burst. Specifically, low interest rates from the Fed and lax/de-regulation of the financial system. Links here and here

As for Katyal, look: you either recognize the context of the legal argument when he made that statement, or you do not. It's clear Katyal wasn't advocating people forgoing income, and that he isn't in favor of people not making money. Paul Krugman was part of the Reagan Administration; you think Krugman's a socialist, right?

Bottom line: businesses are recording record profits, the stock market is back on its feat, millions of new jobs being created (oh, forgot to mention that the situation is the opposite of what you insinuated: most of the jobs being cut are public sector, and the growth is in the private sector). To claim Obama and his administration is Socialist or Anti-Business is just pure ideology ignorant of facts.

Posted by: Hoo haw at June 7, 2011 09:49 AM

Dear Hoo Haw:

Government ownership of the means of production? Check Wikipedia? As a teacher of high school English, I don't allow my students to use Wikipedia as a research writing resource, nor should anyone. It's simply not a reliable, authoritative source. That said, even contemporary nations that are, without question, Socialist--self-identified as such--do not own the means of the production. They do in some industries, but by no means all. And I did not suggest that the United States is socialist, merely that Mr. Obama and his followers have imposed, and are attempting to impose socialistic policies. Silly? Fact.

The auto companies agreed to it? Indeed, after substantial thuggish arm twisting. What choice did they have? Mr. Obama controlled both houses of Congress, wanted to preserve the union status quo, and in so doing, ignored the legal rights of the shareholders. As to their profitability, GM, and now Chrysler, have claimed to have paid off their government loans--with other government loans. The Obama Administration has already written off some portion of the billions given to GM and Chrysler and has admitted that they will likely have to write off even more. Being able to show a profit for a quarter or two is a very different thing from being kept afloat by government loans and being actually profitable over the long term.

In addition, you seem to want to have things both ways. On one hand, you suggest that the government hasn't taken over the means of production, yet claim that "the government stating conditions for reform in a firm it's lending money to does not equal a nationwide Socialist economy." It does not equal a nationwide Socialist economy, but it is surely socialistic policy, which is my point.

They're drastically reversed jobs numbers? The fact is that in order to come close to reversing unemployment we need to produce--in the private sector--at least 200,000 jobs per month. We're not anywhere close. It is also a fact that job growth in the public sector, almost exclusively in the federal government, is at a record high. In recent months, for example, the only reason there has been any significant private sector growth was because of job pushes by McDonald's. Private businesses are hiring or expanding because of the uncertainty of the regulatory, socialistic policies which have been and are still being promulgated by the Obama Administration. Even Mr. Obama, just a few days ago, gave a speech in which he said he must now concentrate on creating private sector jobs. Of course, that's rhetoric. Doing away with his big-government, socialistic policies is quite another matter. Have some jobs been created? Yes, but not nearly enough to push down our persistently high unemployment numbers.

And by the way, it was George Bush who took the first major steps toward "walking the economy back from the edge of a cliff." Mr. Obama promised wonders from his nearly trillion dollar "stimulus," and they didn't materialize because the entire stimulus was merely socialistic wealth redistribution. It is that, and his other policies, which have deepened, not lessened our economic woes, and all he wants to do it to borrow and spend even more. By all means, try to explain that he has not and does not. You are making my point that socialism can never be wrong. The economy isn't perfect because socialism hasn't been allowed to work long enough. "Duh" indeed.

As to Mr Katyal, as I've twice stated, he may have been making a lawyerly argument, but it is not at all clear that he doesn't believe it. In addition, in these times, even making such an argument is not a terribly bright thing to do. It would seem to indicate a very socialistic view of pretending to care for "the people," but caring nothing for individuals. Paul Krugman? Don't get me started.

I'm afraid your bottom line is quite the opposite of what you claim. The stock market, by itself, is hardly an indicator of absolute economic health. If Mr. Obama is not anti-small business, why is he doing one of his rhetorical outreaches to it? In fact, public sector jobs on the local and state levels are essentially static. They are not declining or increasing in number, but in the Federal Government, they have been significantly increasing and continue to do so. Other nations are refusing to loan us money, are talking about replacing the dollar as the international reserve currency, and are--with good cause--lecturing us about our profligate ways. Our entitlements are either broke or will be broke in the very near future, and we're so far under water the Congress is wrangling about raising the debt ceiling several trillions of dollars--trillions! Treasury Secretary Geithner predicts absolute economic doom and national default if we do not. Not exactly happy days are here again or economic progress.

As to being a socialist, you might want to read Mr. Obama's two pseudo-autobiographies where he outlines, in significant detail, his lifelong intimate associations with prominent communists and socialists, and his appreciation of and agreement with their views. Stanley Kurtz's new book on that subject is well researched and quite convincing on the topic as well.

Posted by: Mike Mc at June 7, 2011 11:06 AM