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The Scrooge in Me President Obama and the Prisoner's Dilemma

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President Obama Will Never Have a Plan

by Christopher Chantrill
January 01, 2013 at 12:00 am

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NOW I GET IT. I get the bone-deep mendacity of President Obama’s politics. Here is the money quote from from President Obama’s Meet the Press interview on Sunday.

GREGORY: “Would you commit to that first year of your second term getting significant [entitlement] reform done?” …

OBAMA: “David, I want to be very clear. You are not only going to cut your way to prosperity. One of the fallacies I think that has been promoted is this notion that deficit reduction is only a matter of cutting programs that are really important to seniors, students and so forth. That has to be part of the mix, but what I ran on and what the American people elected me to do was to put forward a balanced approach. To make sure that there’s shared sacrifice. … And it is very difficult for me to say to a senior citizen or a student or a mom with a disabled kid, ‘You are going to have to do with less but we’re not going to ask millionaires and billionaires to do more.’” …

You see what the president is doing here. He is preparing the battlefield for the day, a year from now or a decade from now, when real entitlement cuts cannot be kicked down the road for another day. He wants the rank and file Democratic voter to be just as shocked and outraged on that day as the Wisconsin demonstrators of 2011 and the Michigan union demonstrators of 2012.

You don’t hear a peep out of the president about the need for a plan to reform entitlements, and you never will. Tweets Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): “The latest unacceptable Republican offer would mean more pain for the middle class, poor & seniors – and more giveaways to the wealthiest.” No context, no attempt to prepare Democratic voters for the future. Just simple class warfare.

The fact is, as the president and Sen. Boxer well know, the long-term prognosis for the federal government’s finances is lousy. And the reason is the big entitlement programs. That’s why I created usfederalbudget.us, Mr. President. I wanted any American with half a brain to be able to look at today’s government spending data and see that, out of the federal government’s total $3.8 trillion in spending this year, about $0.9 trillion goes for government pensions, and $0.9 trillion for government health care. That’s where the money is.

The bottom line for you, Mr. President, ought to be this. When the money runs out Democratic voters will get hurt the most. You’d think that you would want to level with them, since you care about those moms and their disabled kids so much.

I have to admit, Mr. President, that I had an epiphany last week about people like you while I was writing a chapter in my American Manifesto about governments as freebooters and government supporters as freeloaders. I was thinking about the difference between the landed magnates, the ruling class of the feudal era, and the educated class, ruling class of the welfare state era. I reckoned that the landed warrior class was a natural ruling class because, whatever their arrogance, their armed might protected the peasants from looting by Vikings and neighboring states. But what makes today’s educated class so special?

Then I figured it out. Back in the middle of the 19th century things were getting better for the poor for the first time ever, what with the textile revolution and the railway revolution and steamships and all. But suppose you were a political activist, thirsting for power and meaning. What was the point of an economy that was delivering real improvement to the working man, raising the poor out of indigence and making national figures out of textile and railroad barons, if it didn’t mean money, power and the love of beautiful women for people like you?

That’s when Karl Marx had his brilliant idea. Why not divide the masters from the workers, and win votes from the workers by demonizing the masters and plundering their wealth? Why not tell the capitalists: you didn’t build that. Divide and conquer. What could go wrong?

What could go wrong, Mr. President, is Reynolds Law. “Things that can’t go on forever, won’t. Debt that can’t be repaid, won’t be. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be.” What could go wrong is that the educated ruling class would make a mess of everything it meddled with: health care, pensions, education, housing, green energy, the dollar. For what?

Democratic politicians are never going to come up with an entitlement reform plan and warn their senior voters and their moms with disabled kids. When the Democratic voters are reduced to eating the paint off the walls they will want to be able to say that the Republicans did it.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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