National Review Online had three articles this morning that I thought worth passing on. The first two form a matched set, although I suspect it was inadvertent that NRO published them on the same day.
We begin with Noemie Emery’s article explaining why Franklin Roosevelt was a singular phenomenon:
Put aside the fact that FDR was a great politician, who would no more have dreamed of passing a game-changing bill without strong and bipartisan backing than he would have thrown himself off a tall building in the belief he could levitate; he still had an advantage that no modern progressive will ever replicate: He became president at the one time in our history when the federal government was too small for its burdens and truly cried out to be expanded.
The match to Emery’s article is a Victor Davis Hanson piece that examines the Progressive yearning for that Rooseveltian past — and its failure in the present.
The third NRO piece I liked was Daniel Pipe’s article pointing out the significant differences we can expect in presidential attitudes towards Israel if Romney is elected or if Obama has a second term. In that article, Romney speaks about Israel being a symbol for larger beliefs that Americans have about Middle Eastern policies generally:
Second, attitudes toward Israel serve as a proxy for views on other Middle East issues: If I know your views on Israel, I have a good idea about your thinking on topics such as energy policy, Islamism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, AKP-led Turkey, the Iranian nuclear buildup, intervention in Libya, the Mohamed Morsi presidency in Egypt, and the Syrian civil war.
I particularly liked that bit, because it seemed to me to speak to an interesting debate we had on this blog about whether Israel is a friend, an ally, or a useful . . . not enemy, but non-friend. Everyone who wrote agreed that America should support Israel, regardless of her friend or non-friend status, and I think Pipes’ article helps explain why we all feel as we do about the necessity of maintaining ties with that beleaguered little nation.
From Israel to Enron. JKB pointed me to a post that indicates that Enron wasn’t a capitalism failure, it was a government failure. That is, putting aside the sleaziness of Enron’s upper management, the real problem is that Democrat financial policies created huge incentives for corruption.
The fifth article I’d like to bring to your attention is another VDH column, this one about the way in which Progressive policies (or Obama policies, if you want to parse words) have effectively destroyed the hopes of both the old and the young. VDH is the first one I’ve seen who has addressed head on the consequence of keeping interest rates down. Those seeking mortgages liked it, but the same policy has brought financial ruin to too many old people:
The hallmark advice of retirement planning was always to scrimp, save, and put away enough money to make up for retirement’s lost salary, increasing medical bills, and the supposed good life of the “golden years.” If a couple had saved, say, $300,000 over a lifetime (again, say, putting $500 away each month for 30 years at modest compounded interest), then they might expect a so-so annual return at 5% of about $15,000 a year on their stash, or about $1,250 per month.
In other words, perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Retiree could find enough with Social Security to live okay and pass on the principal to their kids. But well aside from the fact that many Americans have been laid off, taken pay cuts, lost home equity, had their 401(k)s pruned, or had to take care of out-of-work relatives, there is no 5% any more on anything, not even 2% or in most cases 1%. Saving money means nothing really in terms of return, only the realization that inflation eats away the principal each year.
Put another way, we’re experiencing tremendous inflation, if inflation means that money ceases to have value. It’s just that the inflation is hidden behind dangerously low interest rates, rather than boldly announcing itself as dramatic price increases. (Although if the $140 I spent tanking up our family cars this weekend is any indication, inflation is here, loud and clear.)
My Mom falls in this category. She had dreamed of living of her income. She is, instead, paying down her principal and hoping that, in a race against time, her dwindling wealth lasts longer than she does.
If you have anything to add here, please do.