Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The shipwreck of all the Founders' hopes: Victor Davis Hanson makes the most important point --"There is no Nevada "

My thanks to Pete at WRSA for pointing out this column by VDH outlining what we now know, after a mere six months, about what Obama's Brave New world looks like. It is, in sum, the shipwreck of all the Founders' hopes for this country. Read it, and I will comment on the other side.


The War Against the Producers
Victor Davis Hanson
July 11, 2009

Stimulus, stimulus and not a drop…

A “stimulus” of nearly a trillion dollars was proposed, without which we were told, unemployment would skyrocket and credit would tighten further. Six months later — unemployment having risen even higher than the administration’s forecast of what would have been the case had their stimulus package not been implemented — now the same proponents of massive borrowing demand a second stimulus to accomplish what the first ’successful’ borrowing apparently did not. If you fail, then try the same thing to fail even bigger the second time — while calling for more success to follow the earlier success?

The Larger Agenda

Note here I mean something quite different from the accustomed notion of “accomplish.” You see, I think the point was never much to build more bike paths on borrowed money or just bail out GM, but rather more to reengineer the tax code, as part of a grander vision of creating a new equality of result in America.

Soon we will all end up after each April 15 about making the same, driving the same sort of cars and using the same sort of mass transit, living in about the same sorts of houses, and having about the same sorts of “‘they’ will take care of it for me” philosophies — all overseen by brilliant, but highly ranked and exempt Platonic Guardians who suffer on our behalf as they jet and limo at breakneck speed ensuring our welfare.

Gorging “the Beast”

We are beginning to sense the debate is not about “stimulus” (politicians did not even read the various bills that they rammed through and care little about the fiscal impact from them). Rather, we are witnessing an inversion of Reagan’s sort of playing chicken, once called “starve the beast” (which I thought was a wrong notion), a philosophy of cutting taxes to cut revenue to starve the federal government’s excessive spending in the face of spiraling deficits.

Under Obama’s “gorge the beast” version, America will simply write so many bounced checks, run up such an enormous $10 trillion debt, that taxes will have to rise on “them”– and wasn’t this really the point of it all anyway: to “spread the wealth around” and “never let a crisis go to waste”? Since new programs never shrink, but, like Johnson grass, grow with impunity, and since Democrats, even more so than wasteful Republicans, don’t worry about deficits, taxes must escalate to avoid catastrophe.

The Bad Guys

Ponder a simple fact: The Obama administration is dispersing income lavishly to those who do not pay taxes and it will have to be paid for by those who do. For all the talk of that awful percentile who make over $200,000, this administration has not distinguished the hyper-rich 1% that make untold money (e.g., the Buffets, Soroses, Turners, Gateses, Kerrys, Gores, etc), from the much more demonized, larger 5% of the population whose income does not come from investments and insider influence and deal-making, but rather from providing more tangible goods and services — the family doctor, the plumbing contractor, the small lumber company owner, the car dealer, the local family-held insurance company, the airline pilot, the car-leasing firm, the patent attorney, etc.

“Their Fair Share”

Last fall we heard that this percentile was unpatriotic, did not wish to spread the wealth around, and had made off like bandits under Bush. But the fact is, to quote Mayor Gavin Newsome’s “like it or not,” they are precisely those who decide most dynamically whether to hire, fire, expand, contract, buy/sell goods, etc.

And the results of the Obama war against them are threefold: 1) in major key states, the productive minority’s state income taxes will near or exceed 10%; their federal rates will go to 40%; the abolition of caps on FICA will ensure 15% plus of most of their income will go for new Medicare and Social Security bites; and they may well be eligible for a newly proposed punitive health-care surcharge tax of 4-6%.

Add It Up

If one were to add all that up (forget rises in sales taxes, inheritance taxes, luxury taxes, etc.), then one can get to 70% of one’s income. So right this minute, the electrical contractor is thinking:

“I made $412,000 last year due to Saturday jobs, overtime, risky bidding, gambles on new equipment, and new lines of credit, but under Obama I will pay maybe $50-80,000 more of my income to the government. In other words the cost of, say, hiring two more entry-level electricians, or the cost of outfitting an entire new van with boom and equipment, or what I cleared every Saturday last year — all that will go to the government.”

Ripples of Doubt

And that means rippling throughout this key sector of the economy — even before these taxes have been enacted — are hesitation, stasis, and ultimately constriction — at first for psychological reasons, soon confirmed by the actual facts of less money. In short, very bright people will be thinking how to hide income, how to barter, how to slow down and not produce goods and services, rather than blast full speed ahead and enrich angry others.

A Certain Paranoia

2) Do not discount again the psychological element. This putative electrical contractor also knows that after handing over his profits to the new government, and delaying or ending his plans for enlargement, he will not be praised, but continually demonized (I scanned CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and NBC the other evening, and all the stories had a common theme: the “rich” (yes, you see, ACME Electric is now about the equivalent to AIG and Citibank) will have to pay their “fair share” for all sorts of “overdue” necessities: cap-and-trade, nationalized health care, education grants and freebies, and new social programs.

You Owe Us

So our electrician senses that despite his newfound, sizable contribution to the public good, he will a) not be thanked but only further ridiculed; b) see his money diverted from his own wise use of it, to anonymous agencies’ liberal expenditures of it: the money will not be just lost, but invested in things that will make things worse, not better, through subsidies of failed programs and the destruction of incentives; c) see that the world under Obama is now unfair in Orwellian fashion: the Citibanks and AIGs, in Robert Rubin fashion, are so well connected to both parties that they will suffer little for their mistakes; the Ivy-League and Washington technocratic class that is to run all this is happy with its government perks and does not think new taxes and compliance apply to themselves (cf. Dodd, Rangel, Geithner, Daschle, Murtha, etc.).

You Never Needed All That Anyway

3) Finally the now chastised and ossified electrician will begin to see that his new truck, his boat, his vacation home, all these are somehow immoral in carbon, political, cultural, racial, and social terms. And he senses that others, who do not pay any income taxes (approaching 50% of the population), see themselves at war with him: the more he pays in taxes, the more others see that his compliance with such new burdens is proof of what he “really” owed all the time, and a sign that he can pay even more next round.

A Most Revolutionary Vision

Final observations: Obama brilliantly conflated the Wall Street class with the upper-tier of Main Street in Animal Farm fashion: the former gets lectured, but stays enriched through bailouts; the latter takes both the moral hit for the former’s crimes and greed and the actual hit in higher taxes.

(Nota bene: the new Democrats, in Prince Charles fashion, like the taste and culture of the hyper-rich, who care little about taxes, are sensitive behind their ramparts to the less well off, and know high-culture (think Streisand, Gates, Soros, the Georgetown/Hollwood/Silicon Valley, Upper East Side, Cambridge, Mass, set). These aristoi despise the wheeler-dealer, always on the move, uppity, wanna-get-rich scrambler that is desperately trying to get his get kid through Public U, and add a wing on his gross MacMansion, while towing his outboard up to the lake for five hours of water-skiing, without an opera, symphony, or NPR analysis on the radio).

Bottom line

This recovery cannot work, other than a brief spurt that results from trillions in printed money, because we are rewarding unproductive areas of the economy (federal money for more wind farms, federal hurdles for pumping more known natural gas or nuclear power construction; more of the community-organizing model, less of the productive small business model) and punishing the engines of the economy.

The New Culture of “Pay Up, Mister–or Else!”

For Obama to pull this off, an entire sort of new vocabulary, rhetoric, and attitude is necessary. And the model is California: the carpenter and the bricklayer are laid off, and the state snoozes; while the assistant solid waste inspector of Green Acres is on television every night (his union can afford the advertising) to weep, and claim that if he and those like him (retire at 55 with $100,000 for life) are laid off, then Dantesque things follow.

Remember the logic: the poor Californian voter who works at Starbucks or Target is angry that the grandee social worker is unnecessary and grossly overpaid at $90,000 a year, with lush retirement and benefits, and so is told that if he does not raise taxes to over 10% income and 9% sales, then firemen, police, and water workers will quit/be laid off/furlow and so he will starve, be murdered, and have no sewage.

Screw the Fool Hammering, Save the Grandee Behind the Desk — and Call it Egalitarian Morality

That is the model here in California and that is the model we are soon to see in Washington: the government worker and those who receive his largess, are kings; those who pay for them, and who work in private enterprise for far less, are, well, less than fools.

Whereas thousands are fleeing the natural paradise of California for the arid deserts of no-tax Nevada, there is no Nevada to the United States — the last hope of an otherwise depressing planet.

MBV: Get that? There is NO PLACE TO RUN. We either win here, or we lose. It is that simple. And not just for us. If we are all plunged into slavery tomorrow it is no more than we deserve for our inattention to the world around us and/or our failure to do anything decisive about it.

"There is no Nevada." Not for us, and not for our children. We fight it out here and win, or we lose for, if not forever then certainly in our children's lifetimes.

The Leviathan Borg has us by the throat. Fight, or die. Win or assimilate. But HERE and NOW is where we must make our stand.

People who speak of the faint hope of reversing the tyrannical trends at the next federal election or the one after that are singing their own terminal lullabye version of Goodnight, Moon.

Once again, to quote Pete at Western Rifle Shooters:

"We're screwed."

"There's going to be a fight."

"Get ready."



Old Pablo said...

California is the model for where we are going -- bloated public sector. But the Fed's plan of increasing the money supply will put off the reckoning for a while. All those dollars are propping up the stock market. The reckoning when it later comes could be brutal as GDP falls off more sharply when much higher taxes kick in. Freedom of opportunity already has been lost, in droves.

My dictionary says audacious means reckless and contemptuous.

Missing from the SOTTOMAYER (rhymes with oscar mayer) confirmation hearings was any talk about the original Constitution. The Constitutional Republic. The Founders expressed intent. A "Republican" administration can't restore these things.

I wonder if the dems really want to kill off the golden goose of economic production. Are they really that dumb? They're dumb, to be sure, and hatefully malicious, yes, but are they OUT AND OUT FULL BLOWN RETARDS?

I think they are. Worse, they simply don't care. They are thinking, FULL SPEED AHEAD. It's their time in the sun and they are planning to stick it to us all. Guess none of them ever read Ayn Rand, or believed it.

rexxhead said...

Atlas merely has to shrug...

Jon said...

I spent a couple of years on Capitol Hill lobbying for my various causes, and learned that the country is led by c-students, whose talent is not understanding things like economics and the Constitution, but in making connections. They rely on advice from yes-men, some of whom are fairly bright, but unwilling to stand firm against the herd when that is what is needed.

However, it is not as though there were a team of geniuses waiting in the wings to come in and save the day. The problems we face today are beyond the intellectual capacity of human beings -- any human beings. The best we can hope for would be people genius enough to actually realize that they don't know what they are doing, so shouldn't be surprised if what they try leads to disaster.

What we need now is militia to keep order in the time of troubles we face.

Anonymous said...

It's time to have your 'go bags' ready for immediate availability/employment.

We are on the brink...

Anonymous said...

Right now I'm reading Any Rand's "Return of the Primitive". Excellent collection of essays & a must read for any Ayn Rand student.

Got to read "Atlas Shrugged" next. If for nothing else then to find out hoe to Shrug when everything collapses.

B Woodman

Crustyrusty said...

"What we need now is militia to keep order in the time of troubles we face."

Oh, we're out here. Getting ready.

The time for protests and trying to work the system is over. You can TRY to make one last stand in the voting booths in 2010, but all you'll get is your "vote" disappearing into the ether and the Chosen Ones consolidating their power.

So we wait. And prepare.

Johnny said...

Jeff Cooper, at least a dozen times, opined in his "Commentaries" that America was, "the last best hope of Earth." How ironic that it was "Hope and Change" that killed America...

Anniee451 said...

A fine, fine article. Unfortunately, the truth is horrifically depressing and I wish I could afford to take it only in small doses. But time is short, so I can't. Sigh.

Verification word: hambachi - how cool.

not so Happy D said...

It looks like that "awkward time" Clare Wolf so well described is about to end.Now we get to wait for our Alamo (sipsey street).
Oh crap.

Native son said...

There is no Nevada anymore...just East California. It died 20 years ago.

straightarrow said...

I must admit I often do not read all of any article any more concerning the 2A, whether pro or con. Why? Because everything has been said and I no longer have any hope that the situation can be peacefully settled.

If that were a possibility we would have already won the debate. The truth is on our side. The documentation is on our side. History is on our side. Duty is on our side.

The only thing not on our side is the other side and they care not for duty, history, truth, or documentation. Ergo, we shall have to defeat them in the field of open violent conflict.

I do not like that, in fact, I abhor it. My abhorrence of that inevitability does not change its inevitable nature. When evil believes it will not meet resistance sufficient to raise the cost of their designs on the lives of others to intolerable levels, they do not desist in their predations upon the future designated victims of those designs.

The very sad truth is that we, as the American people, have trained them for more than 70 years to believe that they will meet no such level of resistance. Hence, they will continue with their predatory practices upon the peacable until such time as we are no longer peacable and the price they pay is horrendous.

As an exercise in discipline, I know I should read all of every item impinging on this issue, but nothing new will be forthcoming because it has all been said and it has gained us nothing.

As in my lifetime, when I have realized a fight was unavoidable I quit talking and did what was indicated as a proper physical response. I believe we are very near there, as a nation, and am tired of being ignored by people who care not for me, my family, my country,or liberty.

It is time for them to make that one step too far. I will do my best to see that they cannot retreat from it.

Weaver said...

As straightarrow mentioned, they do not believe we will act so they do not fear us. I also agree that we must make damn sure they cannot retreat but to minimize the damage we must insure that they "believe" as soon as possible.