It would be quite bad enough if Obama and his team were tax-and-spend liberals. But after years of criticizing Bush’s deficit spending, the Democrats are shattering all records with a domestic program so incomprehensibly lavish that taxes alone will hardly suffice.
Continuing the growth of the profanely extravagant warfare state built up by the Republicans, the Democrats are focusing mostly on insane domestic spending schemes — stimulus for all their special interests and constituent groups; bailouts and nationalizations for Wall Street and big industry; burgeoning welfare, energy and education subsidies. They have managed the impossible: making the war look comparatively cheap with the surreal heights of their spending. After blaming Bush for budget-busting tax cuts for the rich, the Democrats have come in doubling the deficit and promising to, years down the line, halve it back to the obscene level it was when they took power.
How do they propose to pay for their crazy schemes? Some of the cash will come through raising taxes to soak the rich and hard-working upper-middle class. But Obama also wants to cut a lot of Americans’ nominal taxes, or at least not resort to the communistic levels of marginal rates we had under FDR. New Democrats to this day prefer not to raise taxes too much on too many people. They know it is unpopular and it can be counterproductive. A lot of the cost can be borrowed, at least for now.
Needless to say, looking at the sheer costs of Obama’s New Deal, a good share of it, trillions of it, will have been new money created by the central bank.
Left-liberal class warfare is ridiculous even from an egalitarian perspective. The idea is that the wealthy have been greedily living it up and so must finally give something back to the rest of the country, especially at this time of crisis. In reality, the Democratic domestic agenda is mostly a redistribution of wealth upward. Their first concern is the state itself, at the top of the power structure. Then they bail out the finance houses (they just had to do that or else the world would collapse). Next they focus on bailing out the favored upper-bourgeois homeowners who bought miniature palaces way beyond their means.
And so who is to pay for this?
They say the rich, which is partly true, but there are only so many of them, and the mega-rich are largely beneficiaries of the scam. The entrepreneurial class will be hit. But since most of the loot is being indirectly fleeced from the private economy through the printing press, the biggest victims are those hurt most by a devalued dollar. People who save, those not in debt, the middle-class not connected to favored corporate and bureaucratic interests, those on fixed income and the poor.
The Democrats say they want to help the poor but their economic program is the poor’s worst enemy. Not only does every regulation and tax rob the poor of opportunity, inflation destroys the value of their relatively static incomes and discourages thrift.
Obama and his ilk say they want to help the little guy, the common man, the average American. He says everyone should have an opportunity to have the superlative education he did — in other words, he wants everyone to have an above-average advantage in the world.
This underscores the underlying paradox of the left-liberal program: using state power, the institutional apex of privilege and inequity in modern life, to uplift the downtrodden. In truth, there are always some who benefit more than others from mass looting, and they are categorically not going to be the least well off. By looting through the money machine, the social democrats manage to benefit precisely those groups they claim need to be taken down a notch: Wall Street, banks and the military-industrial complex. And the people hurt most are those lower on the ladder.
This time around, the Democrats’ idea of good government is going to devastate the American people in a way they do not yet understand. The Obama program is so much more interested in micromanaging domestic life than the inflationary Bush regime was, but no less inclined toward expensive empire abroad. Thus the Obama Democrats, not just fixated on war and subsidizing the rich, but genuinely interested in regimenting and subsidizing all of society, are even more profligate than the Bush Republicans were. What’s the point of having the power to print money if you don’t use it generously for the common good?
The trend right now is toward inflationary depression. This was an avoidable direction, but the non-stop work of the printing press to pay for all this garbage makes it inevitable.
With the printing press, Obama can do a lot. He can afford to continue Bush’s killing sprees abroad, now with a humanitarian cover, and maybe extend them not just to Pakistan but to Africa, also in the name of helping those who most need help. Obama can erect a welfare state that will draw envy from Western Europe and provoke entrepreneurial and productive Americans to expatriate for more friendly economic conditions. He can expand the domestic police state, the drug war and his administration’s spying and detention powers, reinvigorate "national service," grab guns and militarize the Mexican border in the name of squashing drug violence. He can prop up the banking system just a little longer while all the public’s deposits lose buying power by the minute. With the printing press, Obama the humanitarian can stimulate the public education racket, shovel funds to social activists, subsidize big energy and health care firms, establish "green" national socialism, hire people to do useless work, delay the bankruptcy of insolvent local bureaucracies, and keep upper middle-class people in nice homes they can’t afford while poorer and thriftier renters pick up the tab.
But he can’t do it forever, and in the process his humanitarianism will deepen the depression and destroy the livelihoods of millions of Americans, especially the least fortunate.
Perhaps Obama believes in some of this nonsense. Many of his ardent supporters surely do. That makes it all the scarier. Isabel Patterson wrote in her essay "The Humanitarian with the Guillotine":
Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. . . .
Certainly if the harm done by willful criminals were to be computed, the number of murders, the extent of damage and loss, would be found negligible in the sum total of death and devastation wrought upon human beings by their kind. Therefore it is obvious that in periods when millions are slaughtered, when torture is practiced, starvation enforced, oppression made a policy, as at present over a large part of the world, and as it has often been in the past, it must be at the behest of very many good people, and even by their direct action, for what they consider a worthy object. . . .
Certainly the slaughter committed from time to time by barbarians invading settled regions, or the capricious cruelties of avowed tyrants, would not add up to one-tenth the horrors perpetrated by rulers with good intentions. . . .
It may be said, and it may be true, that [the Nazis and Communists] are vicious hypocrites; that their conscious objective was evil from the beginning; nonetheless, they could not have come by the power at all except with the consent and assistance of good people.
The Communist regime in Russia gained control by promising the peasants land, in terms the promisers knew to be a lie as understood. Having gained power, the Communists took from the peasants the land they already owned — and exterminated those who resisted. This was done by plan and intention; and the lie was praised as “social engineering,” by socialist admirers in America. . . .
The humanitarian in theory is the terrorist in action.
Nowadays, our rulers have resorted to measures less conspicuous than the Communists’ methods. They have found a way to wreck millions of lives with the money machine. But not only does it finance their gulags and killing apparatuses, the mere use of the humanitarian printing press is impoverishing society in the name of curing all its ills. A tax-and-spend liberal is a humanitarian with a guillotine. Give him the printing press, and he’s a weapon of mass destruction.
Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a research analyst at the Independent Institute and editor-in-chief of the Campaign for Liberty. He lives in Berkeley, California. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.