Economy & Budget

Obama’s War on Capitalism

On the campaign trail last year, then-Senator Obama promised to end the war in Iraq which he contended should never had been fought and had dragged on too long.  If only he’d aimed that thought process at our oldest war: Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty,” which is now in its forty-sixth year.  It has cost too much and victory is nowhere in sight.  

But President Obama has a comparable war of his own: he has begun a new war in which he, his cabinet, and his party work feverishly against free market capitalism in the United States. This is a war of attrition, where businesses that have weathered the recession are being shamed into hiding their success or remaining silent about bailout bills that they know will damn our economy.

Of course, this war on capitalism is carried out as a war on business and industry: a concerted effort to take the reigns of the economy out of the hands of the people and place them in the hands of the government. According to Charles Krauthammer, this blitzkrieg on freedom has already “destroyed a third of this nation’s wealth,” and Obama’s zeal for the cause portends even greater loss in the near future.

During last year’s election cycle, there were clear indicators that this war was coming. Besides Obama’s pledge to raise taxes on those making over $250,000 a year — which will cripple many small businesses when implemented — his rhetoric about using government to fix the economy was so antithetical to free market economics that investors and business owners alike should have known better. And when Obama and Vice President Joe Biden derided Starbucks for their show of opulence in ordering a multi-million dollar corporate jet in a time of “economic crisis” and then criticized other corporations for their lavish business trips, commerce was clearly in Obama’s crosshairs.

It is also evident that Obama’s special forces in this war will be the editorial pages of the usual newspapers and the network television anchors. Their culture drives them to isolate and embarrass successful businesses that refuse to impoverish themselves by doing things Obama’s way. Biden said as much when he discussed the way the administration planned to humiliate any business that received bailout money yet refused to give the government control over their operations: “We’ll use the media to embarrass them for not doing what they’re supposed to do.”

True to form, the media is already doing their part, and many businesses are cowering. For example, Laurence Geller, president and CEO of Strategic Hotels and Resorts, the company that owns many of the resorts used by “big business” for annual meetings and retreats, recently appeared on CNBC and said: “The hyperbole and rhetoric was notched up to gigantic levels during this recent political debate season.  The bookings of our meetings have cut down drastically.  We’ve lost an awful lot of major businesses, and it’s not just those receiving government bailouts that are affected, but…people attending these conferences [as well.] …It’s really [gotten] out of hand because the meetings and conference business is absolutely essentially to this nation.”
 
Geller said a number of businesses were beginning to find themselves paralyzed by “the fear of being criticized.” He added: “[The] pernicious effect is pretty devastating. …It’s almost McCarthyism directed against the hotel and travel industry.”

Although Geller spoke as a member of the hotel and travel industry, we must understand that Obama’s daily assaults on capitalism reach far beyond that business genre.

For example, on February 11, 2009, Jim Owens, the president of Caterpillar, was reported to have said the passage of Obama’s stimulus package would enable the company to begin rehiring some of the 22,000 workers they’d just laid off. But then, the very next day, the CEO of Caterpillar said that that wasn’t the case at all: “The truth is we’re going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again.”

Why the confusion between such two high-ranking men in the same corporation? The confusion arose from the fact that Obama talked to Owens on the 11th and asked him: “What would it take, Mr. Owens, to get you to support my stimulus [bill]?” Obama asked Owens if he’d support the bill if it meant being able to hire more workers, and Owens said “yes.” Then Obama, who has apparently come to believe his own lies about the government creating jobs, traveled to Peoria, Ill., where Caterpillar is headquartered, and announced that Caterpillar was on board with the stimulus plan.

But they weren’t. They had simply fallen victim to a combination of Obama’s duplicity and the fear of being one of the businesses that he attacked through the media for not supporting the stimulus bill when so many Americans are facing hard times. The Heritage Foundation uncovered the fact that at least 1400 employees at the Caterpillar plant had gone on record asking Peoria’s House member, Aaron Schock (R), to oppose the stimulus bill.

Do you see how Obama’s tactics are used? His approach creates and perpetuates a fear that shames business owners into lessening their profit, putting themselves at risk of failure by signing some bogus stimulus bill, or at least appearing more frugal in the way they spend their money on company trips. Never mind that the money a company makes belongs to that company and its shareholders rather than the government.

We’re less than two months into Obama’s presidency, and wealth in this country is not simply disappearing it’s being “destroyed,” as Charles Krauthammer wrote.  Yet as things worsen, which they will do if Obama sticks with the current strategy in his war on capitalism, there’s a chance he’ll overplay the “shame” tactic and give us an opportunity to turn the tables on him in 2010.

Until then, we have to refuse Obama’s socialistic enticements and support the rights of business owners to use their own money as they see fit.


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