Thursday, December 29, 2011

Keeping Presidents in their Place

This conservatarian recoils when he sees self-styled conservatives playing a game of Job Creation Derby with the president, or with any of the other job destroyers on the Left. In a truly free market system, and under the Republican form of government with which Americans were blessed, presidents ought to have minimal influence over the economy. Any president who claims or believes he can "create jobs" like a wizard is a president with too much ego and too much power. We can't be said to be practicing "free enterprise" if any politician holds such sway over the economy. I can't support any candidate for president who doesn't have the humility to recognize the limits of economic interventionism.

Swept-up in the irrational exuberance of the moment, and in trying to compete with a President who has assumed God-like powers, some conservatives seem to have forgotten that we're the non-interventionists. Such presidential posturing isn't just presumptuous. It doesn't just raise impossibly high public expectations, resulting inevitably in disappointment and cynicism. The worst thing about it is that it's incompatible with the economic and political systems we Americans claim to revere. In short, it's unAmerican.

A president's job ought to be enforcing a few simple rules, protecting private property and other civil liberties and otherwise getting government out of the way, allowing the real job-creators and wealth-producers to do their thing. A president, if he or she wants to be helpful to the economy, should focus on preventing government from killing jobs -- and on creating a general economic climate hospitable to free enterprise, rather than trying to plant the seeds himself. The rest will happen naturally.

Any Republican who wants to compete with the President as a "job creator" is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

(To be fair to Newt Gingrich, it's worth conceding that the campaign ad that prompted this post talks a good game about clearing away existing hurdles to economic development, rather than engaging in the kind of Keynesian spending binges Democrats call "stimulus." But Newt's chameleon-like history as a consummate Washington insider and manipulator makes me wary.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Keynes to The Kingdom

Robert Samuelson, a writer I admire, sees Keynesianism in eclipse, but I'm not sure we should nail down the coffin lid just yet. I thought Keynes was confirmed dead years ago, only to see him resurrected with relish, ala Vlad the BigSpender, after the housing bubble burst and this President was elected.

Just a few years ago, before the Bush/Obama bailouts and spending binges drove the economy further into the ditch, exposing the limits of government pump priming, the Left was gleefully declaring Adam Smith dead. Markets had once again failed us, they said. Keynesianism is the way to go.

Now Keynes is being pulled off his pedestal and replaced by. . . . well, we still haven't figured that out. Keynes will not die, or even rest, until statists concede that government kills far, far more jobs than it "creates." And that, I'm coming to believe, is a religious position, over which reason and fact have no bearing.

Deadly Delusions

It's interesting that the media focuses so much attention on Kim Jong-il's more frivolous "insane delusions" while ignoring his most insane delusions of all: that Marxism makes sense; that communism is humane and just; that individuals exist to serve as slaves of the state.

Such delusions aren't just insane, they're deadly, as the bloody history of the 20th Century shows. The sad thing is that such delusions won't die alongside this demented tyrant. They are carried forward, in watered-down form, by leaders, academics, pundits and people who aren't widely seen as deluded at all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Warren Buffett's Subsidy Buffet

White House pal Warren Buffett didn't become a gazillionaire by not knowing how to work the angles. And he's not above using government power or the taxpayers' pocket to pump-up his profit margins. With this purchase Buffett not only reveals himself as a run-of-the-mill subsidy chaser, but he's betting that taxpayer support for these not-ready-for-primetime energy technologies will continue, despite the scandals that have rocked these programs.

He's a crony capitalist who trusts that taxpayers will hedge this bet on solar.

The Los Angeles Times speculates that Buffett's investment in solar will help "boost" the industry. But by what means? Will his involvement increase the likelihood of technical breakthroughs in solar technology, open new markets for solar power or magically make solar power cost-competitive with conventional alternatives? Probably not. The "boost" he'll give the industry stems not from his influence in the free market, or his excellence as a businessman, or his track record as an innovator, but from his influence in Washington and Sacramento, where his lobbying power will be used to keep the government propping-up companies that can't survive without mandates or subsidies.

Buffett, like all good crony capitalists, is a parasite who wants to keep feeding off the body politic. And his deeper investment in these government-protected industries means he will do everything in his considerable power to keep the protection racket going -- to keep profiteering at our expense.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Obama Dons Teddy in Latest Reinvention

Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill. The only thing Barack Obama ever charged up was this bankrupt nation's credit card. If his image is ever carved in stone, it should be on Mount Spendmore.

The guy cuts and pastes a few slogans from a century old TR speech, taken out of context, and suddenly he has "a voice"? What a fraud. And it's a fraud perpetrated and enabled by frauds in the media establishment, who are so easily sucked-in that they actually take such comparisons seriously.

The man isn't fit to hold TR's horse.

Who better to puncture the pretensions of our strange President Zelig than a bona fide historian, Victor Davis Hanson.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Unforgiven

I used to sort of like Clint Eastwood but now, after the release of "J Edgar," I just think of him as another Hollywood half-wit, regurgitating revisionist "history" in a pander to the Left. Hoover, like Nixon and McCarthy, truly are America's "Unforgiven." Virtually everyone else who becomes notorious gets at least one shot at rehabilitation and redemption in America, sometimes even two, except for these perennial lepers. And why is that?

Is it because they conducted wiretapping? Is it because they were ruthless? Is it because they sometimes became rule-bending zealots in pursuit of political or personal demons? Not really. The same could be said of many American historical figures (Bobby Kennedy, to name just one) who are still held in relatively high esteem.

So what was their unpardonable sin? It was fighting the spread of Stalinism and Soviet tyranny. It was being correct about the evils of communism, at a time when so many Americans, especially fellow-travelers on the left, were ignoring or minimizing or actively enabling Soviet crimes.

You can be forgiven for anything in American, it seems, but for being a staunch anti-communist -- though it's by now beyond doubt that communism was a force for evil in the world. It's that, not Watergate or the Army-McCarthy hearings or Hoover's alleged abuses of power, that makes them the pariahs they remain.

Not everyone likes gleefully jumping on their graves, however. Some of us find their anti-communist crusading admirable, even heroic, given the Cold War context in which they lived. And they rise even higher in our esteem in response to the hatred and derision heaped on them by unreconstructed fellow-travelers and their useful idiots among opinion-makers. We understand that they are hated because they were honest about communism. We know they are doubly hated because they were effective anti-communists. And that, more than anything else, is why we can forgive them their other human foibles.

And what of Eastwood's motives? Why would this supposed Republican (though a Hollywood Republican) bastardize Hoover's biography (especially his alleged sexual history) the way he does in J. Edgar? It seems like just another bid for redemption by the former Dirty Harry, who made a fortune and sold out theaters in politically-incorrect shoot-em-ups that undoubtedly offended Tinseltown's liberal sensibilities, but who has in more recent films struck a notably softer tone, as if he is making amends for his former movie persona (not to mention his reputation for being one of the industry's few -- gasp -- Republicans).

This is a portrait of Hoover that's sure to win Eastwood the love of Hollywood's left-leaning establishment, which is what he still obviously craves. And it might also just win him a best director Oscar, since "the Academy" isn't above making political or social statements with the awards it hands out. That, in my view, explains it. It's a cynical, shameless, pandering move on Eastwood's part, which lowers his stature in my opinion. But no one ever went wrong, or broke, in contemporary Hollywood cranking-out Leftist propaganda.