We have learned a lot in the first one hundred days of the Obama administration. The most important lesson is that this administration’s operating ideology isn’t old-style liberalism or even old-style socialism. President Obama and his team are delivering a “New Socialism.”
Their “New Socialism” doesn’t need to capture property. It is content to control the economy through taxation and regulation and the attitudes of our citizens by the establishment of a culture through the power institutions of our society: the media, the education establishment, and powerful business interests. Moreover, the “New Socialism” seeks to create a conventional wisdom that discredits all alternative thought.
The first part of their New Socialism began with the financial crisis. Radical financial policies are reducing the economic freedom of our citizens. While there were many alternatives to the current stimulus program the course chosen throws out money to pay for long-deferred government spending. Some stimulus money is conditioned on states changing their laws to permanently expand government programs.
This spending program plays into the natural desire of every politician to grab the money for their own special interests. The budget of the US is about $3.2 trillion. Current projects call for increasing the deficit to at least $1.75 trillion. But this money is not free. If it were we would have been able to solve all of society’s problems years ago merely by throwing money at them.
The money to pay for Obama’s spending spree has to be paid by someone. We are invited to sell out our brother by saying, “don’t worry, the rich will pay for it.” But the numbers do not add up. There are not enough wealthy people to pay for the increased debt created by the stimulus program. We are headed inevitably for high taxes like many European countries or high inflation which causes great suffering and destabilizes the society. Or both.
And we can see the next steps toward institutionalizing Obama’s New Socialism: they are rooted in the asserted threat of global warming. Contrary to conventional liberal wisdom there is no consensus as to the nature, consequences or solutions to global warming. The left’s warning of the “apocalypse” to come is designed to scare our citizens into accepting control over their daily lives.
The truth is that we should be aggressively pursuing new oil and gas resources right now during this respite from high gas prices. Energy is available including Alaska oil production, offshore oil production, Utah oil fields and nuclear power. All of these options have been stopped while the “New Socialism” focuses exclusively on green energy. The liberal focus on “green energy” and “green jobs” are another means of taking control, for there is no free market involved, only government controlled “green energy” and government-created “green jobs.” And “cap and trade” programs are put forward to control our economy in a way never before seen.
A third example of the “New Socialism” is the broad expansion of the welfare state. A key goal of the “New Socialism” is to brush aside the idea of citizen independence and to make people dependent on the government. If we tax away all marginal ability to save and invest, if we destroy jobs through high corporate taxes, if we “cap and trade” energy, if we impose giant new taxes and drive up the prices of everything citizens need through inflation there is no choice but to become a dependent on state programs.
In 2006 Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid took 8.7% of the gross domestic product of the United States. By 2050 these programs will take 19% of GDP. This represents every penny of the taxes Americans have historically paid. There will be nothing left over for national defense, education, transportation, or any other government activity.
I do not favor the elimination of these programs, but I do know that we cannot pay for them without giant increased taxation which further reduces the liberty of the people. The “New Socialism” seeks that result. Today every social welfare program is judged by how much more money is spent on them. The true measure should be how much the program reduces peoples’ dependency upon them. People have always come to America seeking opportunity, not to be wards of the welfare state.
A fourth program of Obama’s “New Socialism” is national healthcare. Kennedy, Clinton and others have been trying to create national healthcare for years. Private, high quality health care cannot compete with taxpayer subsidized national health care. Likewise the nation cannot pay for everyone’s healthcare. The more healthcare the government mandates, the more expensive it will be.
Soon the quality and amount of medical care will be decided by the government. As a result of high taxation our citizens will simply not have enough money left to buy their own healthcare.
Even certain social policies like gun control enable the “New Socialism.” Put aside for a moment the fact that the right to keep arms is a Constitutional right. The “New Socialism” believes that citizens cannot be trusted with their rights and the personal empowerment that firearms have always conferred upon them. We require empowered citizens to behave responsibly or be subject to the criminal laws. The new alternative is to remove that empowerment from people so that they have no ability to misbehave. We treat children this way taking away dangerous things so they don’t hurt themselves. Treating citizens as irresponsible dependents is the essence of the thinking that defines the “New Socialism.”
President Obama isn’t the only player in this story although a president uniquely enables the drive toward social definition. This is especially true of this president who developed his values as a community organizer in Chicago. But President Obama is not the entire team.
Pelosi, Reid, Kennedy, Emanuel, the dominant media, the Democratic majorities in the Congress, their Republican fellow-travelers and the giant liberal moneyed interests all seem to be breathing a giant exhale as the dam of resistance to their relentless goals has finally broken.
The agenda of the left, some it going back decades, is finally being implemented because the current financial crisis makes our citizenry less secure and more accepting of this agenda. More crises are probably ahead especially the gathering storm in international affairs.
America is again at one of those crossroads we so often confront in our history. This crossroads of American history may be more dramatic than any before, by redefining the actual relationship between our citizens and their country. This moment might finally subordinate the liberty of the individual to the state.
In the midst of all this change I believe we Americans have an opportunity to keep freedom alive. It is time to begin fresh with our own change which I call the “New Liberty.”
I propose a “New Liberty” movement that appeals to the American concepts of unlimited opportunity and the maximum ability to gain assets, success and the liberty that goes with it. Our best hope for the future is what it has always been, the reliance upon the initiative and ambition of the American people, empowered by education and freedom that makes initiative possible.
A central proposition of the “New Liberty” is that the capacity of each person to make money is equal to that person’s liberty. Independence and the freedom to choose ones own path comes from the accumulation of wealth. Not everyone can acquire assets and independence, but it should be the goal.
I propose several initiatives for the “New Liberty.”
First we must stop the headlong rush to higher taxes. The money people have is the same as their liberty. Personal assets empower and liberate. We should be willing to pay taxes but should never confuse it with what it is — a surrender of freedom. For that reason our money should be yielded reluctantly. High taxes should not be the national purpose as it is under the “New Socialism.”
Second, we have to take a bold look at government spending. We have to back down from trillions in “stimulus” spending and not make permanent the growth of big government. We have to admit to ourselves that we cannot finance everything we can imagine but must work to replace government spending with the growth of our own capacities to create wealth and support ourselves.
Third, we have to reaffirm the American dream of individual financial independence. We have to stop the denigration of wealth acquisition. The building of anger towards making money fuels the “New Socialism” through resentment of our fellow citizens who are lighting the path of success. Fourth, we must begin to educate the public on how a free economy works. We reserve business education to a select few in the business schools. We must teach the elements of entrepreneurship to every American. With such training will come the self-confidence to grasp opportunity and to become financially self sufficient. This is the essence of the “New Liberty” and the direct opposite of the “New Socialism.”
We should not believe for a second that the “New Liberty” will come easy. The institutions of our laws, government, media and culture now make the “New Socialism” the dominant idea of our society. But it is also our opportunity.
I am often asked whether at the end of the Obama administration his changes will be irreversible. President Ronald Reagan showed us that no government program of dependency is permanent if the spirit of freedom survives in the hearts of our people. This is the task that is ahead. In grasping the “New Freedom” we can reignite the ambitions of the American people and become the beacon of success, opportunity and liberty that has always been ideal of the world.
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