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Killing the American Dream was the Whole Point

Velma Hart and others needn’t have asked:

“Quite frankly, I’m exhausted,” Velma Hart said, looking the leader of the free world in the eye. “I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.”

There was more. “I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people. And I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting.”

She inspired others in the audience to follow suit. A recent graduate from law school complained that he couldn’t afford to pay even the interest on his student loans.

“What I’m really hoping to hear from you is several concrete steps that you’re going to take moving forward that will be able to reignite my generation, reignite the youth who are beset by student loans. And what I really want to know, is – is the American dream dead for me?” he wailed.

To construct a proper European style social contract with the benefits that go with it, you have to kill the American Dream.  That was Barack Obama’s objective, whether he stated it or not or whether he knew it or not.  The two are incompatible.  You can’t have a nice social contract and a bunch of enthusiastically ambitious people under it at the same time.  Something has to give.  And it isn’t just about Obama either; it’s the whole idea of the American left.

I am sure that Barack Obama, sensing the desire of Americans to receive the benefits of government, is surprised at the resistance he’s getting, even from people who are nominally sympathetic to his cause.   To some extent, so am I.  Part of that is generational; if we wait twenty years or so, what he’s wanting to do will go down much better.  But he didn’t and now he’s paying the price.


5 Replies to “Killing the American Dream was the Whole Point”

  1. Don,

    This is an utter misreading of the polls. President Obama’s approval ratings are low because a substantial part of the electorate object to Obamneycare as a give-away to the insurance industry.

    All these critics of the President have nevertheless supported him at the polls.

    But don’t stop practicing. Mitt Romney may run a third time, and we all know he values people with your sort of public opinion reading skills.



    1. I really wasn’t reading polls here, and keep in mind that Obama’s ratings were higher when I wrote this than they are now.

      I don’t think that “a substantial part of the electorate” cares about the lack of cost containment in Obamacare as long as it doesn’t impede their reception of health care. That problem is the result of the “give-away to the insurance industry”, one necessitated by the political exigencies of getting Obamacare passed in the first place. The lack of cost containment is a problem in delivery, but the complexities of same are the province of policy wonks.

      For a benefit program like Obamacare to work, you have to insulate the recipients from the problems. That’s why Social Security and, to a lesser extent, Medicare are popular. I still think that the easier road to get to where the Democrats want to go is to nationalise Medicaid, but I guess that’s just me.


      1. Nationalised Medicaid? Fine by me. that would be CanadaCare, surely. and I assume it’s what you’ll end up with in 14~15 years under President Warren.

        But can the American public be educated to handle it responsibly? Remember what Stalin said, when Marshall Rokossovsky told him he had conquered Poland and was ready to hand it over to the Communist Party.

        “Putting Communism on the Poles would be like putting a saddle on a cow.”

        Can Americans, consumers all, handle Canada’s style of socialism?




      2. I love your quote re the Poles and Communism, that turned into bull riding before it was over with.

        I’m glad you finally took note of my suggestion to nationalise Medicaid. One of those cost-sharing deals with the states, Medicaid has become a fiscal headache to the states, offering to take it over would have had most governors’ support. That done, the Feds could have raised the eligibility level (a controversy in Obamacare the Feds lost at SCOTUS) without having to dicker with the states (another battle re the exchanges which the Feds may lose at SCOTUS). Eventually they could have squeezed the private sector out and we would indeed have CanadaCare.

        Like I said, Americans have reached the point where for the most part they want to be taken care of. No, the transition will not be easy; it will be a rough road. But Obamacare, with its Byzantine complexities, is the really hard (and expensive) way to do this. And if we can get the costs down to the level of the rest of the world (around 10% GDP) it will be easier to afford the plane ticket to get decent, timely health care when we need it.

        Re Elizabeth Warren: for all of the controversies over her Native American antecedents, it’s important to note that she is, like Bill Clinton, Scots-Irish, in her case from Oklahoma. That means that, instead of an socialist ideologue, she’ll be a Huey Long in drag with education.


  2. Poland is a couple of very interesting economics lessons, since good revolutions are revolutions of rising expectations, while revolutions based on misery and resentment usually seem to go bad.

    Skipping the small bits of good done by Pope John Paul II, the excellent Karol Józef Wojtyła , whatever you think of Popes or sudden accelerated saints, here are my economics lessons:

    The dollar-vodka economy: Poland was probably the only place to get anything good out of the Soviet and Eastern European love for alcohol. (And it’s a damn shame the Poles haven’t woken up to the fact that some Polish beer is just as good as the German stuff. Their vodka strips furniture.) For the last many years of the Soviet domination Poland had the nearest thing in the Warsaw Pact to a hard, i.e. solid valued, and convertible, i.e. spendable in the West particularly Germany, currency.

    This is because they had a very peculiar exchange mechanism: the standard bottle of vodka sold for a fixed price, I don’t know what it was, in zloties, and it also sold for one US dollar in the Party stores.

    This meant that the money sent by the very many relatives in the US. (My boss in Congress represented Kosciusko County, which is in fact highly Polish, in Indiana’s Third; I write really great well informed prose for Kosciusko Day!) was usable, and at good rates,within Poland.

    This fixed the value of the zloty in a way the ruble could never achieve –and of course it made for advantageous friendly relations between people who had American dollars and people who had access to the Party stores, mainly the apparat.

    The second oddity is that shipyard in Gdansk, the infamous Danzig of Corridor fame. Like all Soviet heavy industry it was hopelessly inefficient, incapable of selling a ship in the West without huge subsidies. Further, the Soviet bloc could supply the sheet iron, but all the bronze parts, all the electronics, and all the advanced technology that go into a modern ship had to be bought. Imported.

    They were supplied by Mitsubishi Shoji, and the guy in charge there was my friend and visa sponsor for many years, Takeda Tsunetada. Ted is a member of the Royal Family, which is whispered to own a quarter of the Mitsubishi group, a big chunk of MacDonalds (which for public consumption is 50-50 with the Japanese baking company that makes their rolls) and a bunch of other stuff.

    Ted is a very bright lad, son of the man who conquered Malaya and Singapore, a world class tennis and poker player, and an adventurer in business. I knew him through a friend in national security, the aviation engineer responsible for the Minuteman III; I assume the connection is that Mitsubishi make the F-104J, the Japanese Lockheed Widowmaker, oops, Starfighter. (The name is German: 150 F-104s in Germany killed more than a hundred German pilots.)

    Anyway, Ted is keeping the Gdansk Shipyard, and with it Solidarity, running, and then everything hits the fan. Poland goes under military government, the economy goes on strike, and all kinds of fun and games. What to do?

    Ted just kept shipping out the parts, and payment be damned: gotta keep Solidarity running.

    In that sense, and to that extent, we can say that the Polish Solidarity Movement is, well, in solidarity with the Japanese Royal Family.




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