I kept reading about Obama’s Rose Garden speech, but it wasn’t until this morning that I actually sat down and read the speech. Aside from the obvious factual and ideological problems (not to mention how pedantic and vulgar it is in its expressions and ideas), what jumps out at me about the speech is the way in which this man reveals his alienation from America. The guy may have been born here but, when it comes to understanding the American social and economic model, it’s clear that he was raised in mid-19th century Europe.
A little background: Mid-19th Century Europe was the setting against which Marx and Engels came up with the idea of modern socialism. It wasn’t the first attempt at upending the existing power structure (for example, a little thing called the French Revolution had preceded it), but it was the most sustained intellectual statement about socialism, and therefore the most powerful, and the one with the most lasting consequences.
I won’t rehash socialism here, but I will say one thing about it: it’s premised upon a complete lack of social mobility. The Marxist theory is that workers of the world need to unite and overthrow the existing power structure because, absent that unity, they will never achieve either economic, political or social power. Sure, an exceptionally talented person in France or Germany or England might squeak by, but on the whole, the class system is too rigid ever to free the poor. In a class world, say the socialists, there is no way up and there is no way out.
Even back then, when Marx and Engels were disseminating their poisonous ideology, America was different. Yes, we do have a class system, although it’s one defined by economic status (poor, working class, middle class, upper middle class, and rich), not by birth. More than that, it’s fluid and always has been. From the very earliest days, if you weren’t making it on the East Coast, you could head out West. And if you weren’t making it as a printer, you could become a farmer (or vice versa). For many young men, the military was a way up, as it still is today for men and women alike.
Our presidents, men such Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, demonstrated that you didn’t have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to ascend to the highest offices in the land. Likewise, the immigrants who crowded into New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries lived to see their children move out to the suburbs and partake of the good life.
While it is certainly true that their have been poor people and immigrants who never made it in America, and whose children didn’t make it either, “making it” — that is, leaving poverty behind and becoming middle class or even rich — has always been a real possibility in America, not just a fairy tale. To Obama, though, whose Leftist upbringing has alienated him from American values and reality, the possibility of “making it” without a Big Government fairy godmother is inconceivable.
In Obama’s speech, his first few paragraphs are the usual populist tripe. I’m ignoring that here, because it’s embarrassing to read that generic, uninspiring, obvious stuff, and we all know that he’s lying when he says he has a bill to pass; when he says that Congress, which has received nothing from him, is dragging its feet; when he claims that his goal is to shrink inefficient government; and when he says that government needs to pay its bills. I’ll also ignore the sleazy demagogic attacks against Boehner and the Republicans, something no decent President should do.
Instead, I’m honing in on a few paragraphs that explain a great deal about Obama’s mindset if you keep in mind the distinction between European rigidity (a rigidity that still exists in Europe) and American economic fluidity:
It was an approach that said we need to go through the budget line-by-line looking for waste, without shortchanging education and basic scientific research and road construction, because those things are essential to our future. And it was an approach that said we shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the middle class; that for us to solve this problem, everybody, including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, have to pay their fair share.
Yes, the above is classic “class warfare” language: the poor and the middle class are fighting for a slice of the pay that the “wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations” are stealing. But the above dichotomy fails to consider that today’s poor kid can be tomorrow’s wealthiest American. It also ignores the fact that, unlike traditional European wealth, which was family based, ownership in America’s corporations can be bought and sold by ordinary people. My IRA and my mutual fund savings make me a member of dozens of American’s biggest corporations. If they get screwed, so do I. Obama’s statement is correct only if one moves to Europe, circa 1848.
The heart of Obama’s view of America is in this paragraph (emphasis mine):
So, today, I’m laying out a set of specific proposals to finish what we started this summer — proposals that live up to the principles I’ve talked about from the beginning. It’s a plan that reduces our debt by more than $4 trillion, and achieves these savings in a way that is fair — by asking everybody to do their part so that no one has to bear too much of the burden on their own.
Ignore for a moment that the rich and the corporations (or, as I call them, the employers and wealth creators) pay 40% of America’s taxes, while the bottom 50% of Americans (economically at the bottom, I mean) pay no taxes, something that one would think more than meets Obama’s requirement that “everybody . . . do their part.” What’s more interesting to me is, again, the assumption that America’s socioeconomic status is immutable. Obama has taken Jesus’ statement that “The poor you will always have with you,” and transmuted it into “You will always be poor.” We (Big Government) need to rescue you from the rich because you will never be able to take advantage of opportunities to rise above your poverty. Again, Europe, circa 1848.
The following are more examples of the same rigidity:
And that’s why this plan eliminates tax loopholes that primarily go to the wealthiest taxpayers and biggest corporations –- tax breaks that small businesses and middle-class families don’t get. And if tax reform doesn’t get done, this plan asks the wealthiest Americans to go back to paying the same rates that they paid during the 1990s, before the Bush tax cuts.
I promise it’s not because anybody looks forward to the prospects of raising taxes or paying more taxes. I don’t. In fact, I’ve cut taxes for the middle class and for small businesses, and through the American Jobs Act, we’d cut taxes again to promote hiring and put more money into the pockets of people. But we can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy -– rates, by the way, that were meant to be temporary. Back when these first — these tax cuts, back in 2001, 2003, were being talked about, they were talked about temporary measures. We can’t afford them when we’re running these big deficits.
I talk over and over again about the Regressiveness of the so-called Progressives. Their economic world view is Europe in the mid-19th century, their abortion view is America in the mid-2oth century, their race view is America in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Obama is a product of the Left, and the Left is fundamentally un-American in that it refuses to acknowledge what America is: a country in which anyone has the opportunity to break free of poverty and race.