"Insanity," according to a famous definition, is a condition revealed by the habit of doing exactly the same thing repeatedly in earnest anticipation of a different result. A closely related form of derangement is megalomania, a prominent symptom of which is an individual’s self-exalting belief that he is the divine exception that can make that different result occur.
When it’s displayed in private pursuits, megalomania is a harmless if pitiable condition. When coupled with political power, it becomes the propellant of large-scale social experiments that ruin societies and kill people by the tens of millions.
Barack Obama suffers from an acute case.
There are many things to like about Mr. Obama. As far as the public record attests, in personal terms he is genial, polite, and gracious. These traits contrast quite sharply with the casual bullying favored by the withered little cretin who presently occupies the White House.
Obama appears to be a devoted husband, and an exceptional father to his adorable daughters — traits which provide a very welcome contrast to the previous Democratic occupant of the Oval Office.
He is a remarkably disciplined individual and a decent writer. He has a good jump shot.
And if he manages to acquire a tithe of the power he seeks, Mr. Obama — or, more properly, the government over which he will preside — will probably end up killing many of us, either indirectly through the privations that result from a centrally planned economy, or through the direct application of the lethal force on which such economies depend.
Obama is a reasonably bright fellow. Somebody he respects — assuming there is any great enough to command his attention and rebuke his errors — needs to ask him this question, and compel him to answer:
If the key to prosperity is a centrally planned economy fueled by fiat currency, why isn’t Zimbabwe the wealthiest nation in history?
The Electoral College has yet to elect Mr. Obama to anything, yet he and his Gosplan are putting the finishing touches on a grandiose plan to collectivize the entire American economy — that is, what remains of it — as an "economic stimulus." Toward that end, Obama and his comrades have made it clear that they aren’t concerned about the number of zeros they add to the national debt.
There is a significant difference between "stimulus" as practiced by Bush the Lesser and the variety envisioned by Barack the Blessed (Peace Be Upon Him).
Bush and Greenspan dispatched "tax rebate" checks to American consumers and flooded the country with "liquidity," bidding all and sundry to go spend as their appetites dictated.
Obama and Bernanke, however, prefer to dictate the spending priorities on behalf of the population. Or as the Chicago Tribune summarized: "In recent years, federal stimulus packages sometimes amounted to giving Americans checks with a goal of stoking consumer spending. Obama’s transition team wants to mold a package that tracks the policy ideas he laid out during his presidential campaign and put people to work immediately."
In just the past three months, the Bush Regime — with the conspicuous support of Mr. Bush’s successor — has appropriated the equivalent of half our Gross Domestic Product to bail out Wall Street. Obama apparently seeks to pick up the spare, as it were, by putting the rest of the economy under the control of the political class — for our own good, of course.
The plan is to put people to work on projects ordained by Obama and his omnicompetent vanguard of visionaries. The immediate priority would be "Green jobs, health-care technology and infrastructure," one aide informed the Tribune. The paper ominously notes that "Obama aides have been privately consulting a range of interest groups about economic recovery."
The New York Times uncharacteristically told something close to the truth when it observed that the Obama plan "would be in part a government-directed industrial policy, with lawmakers and administration officials picking winners and losers among private projects and raining large amounts of taxpayer money on them."
Of course, a "private" project that receives taxpayer funds is now a government program.
During the reign of Bush the Lesser, this approach was called "privatization," an artfully dishonest term that effectively inverts the truth. Who knows what tortured neologism will be coined to describe that process under Obama. But the substance of the matter is this: Bush presided over the most radical expansion of government control over the American economy in history, and Obama promises to regiment whatever embattled remnants of the private economy Bush may have overlooked.
Without the benefit of an inaugural ceremony, Obama is already dictating the terms of survival for those troubled industries who, in their panic over the unfolding depression, seek federal assistance. Speaking on Meet the Press today (Sunday, December 7), Obama wasn’t at all shy about specifying what he expects from the auto industry — such as the development of environmentally correct cars to radical reductions in executive pay — in exchange for taxpayer-subsidized loans.
While granting that the plight of top-echelon auto executives wouldn’t wrench so much as a tiny sob even from the chronically lachrymose, it’s worth remembering that Obama and his handlers won’t stop with that unsympathetic cohort. Just as they will use the leverage of government largesse to bring the auto industry into conformance with the will of the Gosplan, they’ll use similar means — and, most likely, even more draconian measures — to compel general submission to their Regime’s designs.
To understand the scope of Obama’s dirigiste designs, it’s useful to recall his campaign gaffe (a "gaffe," of course, is an instance in which a politician is caught candidly disclosing his intentions) in which he informed an audience in Roseburg, Oregon that "We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."
Obama seeks not merely to control the means of production, but also to regiment individual consumption in order to bring the population into compliance with his vision of a better society. He won’t be content merely to restructure the auto industry, or to preside over vast, corruption-fattened liturgies of infrastructure renovation; he’s after nothing less than a complete reconstruction of our individual lives. That’s the hideous truth lurking behind his anodyne promise to be the "president of all Americans," whether we care to have someone preside over us or not.
George W. Bush was a conspicuous failure as a dilettante businessman. Barack Obama — so far as we can tell from his uniquely opaque biography — has never operated a business, met a payroll, or set his hands to honest work in the productive sector. His brow has never been beaded with the sweat of honest private labor, nor has it been creased by the stress familiar to businessmen seeking to meet the needs of customers while navigating the hazards of government regulation and taxation.
Yet he assures us that he possesses some numinous quality — "the vision of change … comes from me," to quote one of his more recent Olympian pronouncements — that equips him to direct a $16 trillion economy, correct the multifarious errors of made by lesser beings in their private transactions, and reorient that economy in order to address the future that he and his enlightened associates infallibly foresee.
Given the wonder-working powers Obama implicitly claims for himself, the most intriguing question is not whether he was born in Hawaii or in Kenya, but rather if he was immaculately conceived.
Obama must be nothing less than a necromancer if he is serious about spending trillions of dollars on Keynesian public works projects: With the dollar’s demise imminent, Obama’s plans will require the ability to transmute a worthless currency into real money with actual value. Either that, or he will simply task Ben Bernanke to run the printing presses at such a speed that their friction-heated surfaces could be used to fry bacon.
Which brings us back to the Zimbabwe scenario.
For most students of hyperinflation, Weimar Germany — with its shoppers toting huge stacks of worthless marks in bags or wheelbarrows, and the government issuing single-side mark notes because the presses couldn’t keep place with currency depreciation — exemplified the worst case scenario.
But Zimbabwe — land of the $200,000,000 dollar note and the $2 million loaf of bread — has overtaken Weimar as the most potent negative example.
People in that nation — once the chief agricultural producer for the entire continent — are dealing with the full menu of misery offered by a centrally planned fiat money state. The basics of daily life are constantly priced beyond their income; food shortages are commonplace, as are shortages of cash when the Government imposes arbitrary limits on daily withdrawals. Some of those residing in the country that was once the breadbasket of the Dark Continent have been reduced to devouring dirty, canine offal, or bovine excrement, and Zimbabwean children by the thousands are being felled by cholera.
Hyperinflation is the fastest and most efficient way to strip-mine a society of its civility. The barbarization of Zimbabwe is merely the latest example, but it won’t be the last. The architects of our economic distress have deliberately created the conditions for global hyperinflation in the knowledge that doing so will result in hardship and death on an unimaginable scale.
"The world is not going back to normal after the magnitude of what [central bankers and the political class] have done," wrote Tom Fitzpatrick, chief technical strategist for Citigroup, in an "internal client note" privately circulated by the bank. "When the dust settles this will either work, and the money they have pushed into the system will feed through into an inflation shock. Or it will not work because too much damage has already been done, and we will see continued financial deterioration, causing further economic deterioration."
Commenting on Fitzpatrick’s analysis, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph observes that the possible outcomes he predicts include a strong possibility of "a downward spiral into depression, civil disorder, and possibly wars." As Fitzpatrick pointed out, "There is a risk of domestic unrest, starting with strikes because people are feeling disenfranchised. What happens if there is a meltdown in a country like Pakistan, which is a nuclear power[?] People react when they have their backs to the wall."
Bear in mind here that if the strategy Fitzpatrick describes is successful, the result will be an "inflationary shock" — which would mean the utter pauperization of everyone whose earnings, savings, and investments (such as they are) are in dollars. The only weakness in Fitzpatrick’s assessment is the false dichotomy found therein between the prospect of a continued, deepening depression on the one hand, and hyperinflation on the other. Thanks to the ministrations of the Power Elite, we’re going to have both.
By waging two eminently avoidable and utterly disastrous wars abroad, and engaging in unprecedented domestic profligacy, George W. Bush and his cronies burned our economy to the ground. Obama and his comrades are now ready to sow salt and leave it entirely barren for a generation or more.