Dead man talking – warns Obama 0

 In the speech he made on receiving his 1974 Nobel Prize, the great, free-market, anti-Keynes economist Friedrich von Hayek warned: 

To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. In the physical sciences there may be little objection to trying to do the impossible; one might even feel that one ought not to discourage the over-confident because their experiments may after all produce some new insights. But in the social field the erroneous belief that the exercise of some power would have beneficial consequences is likely to lead to a new power to coerce other men being conferred on some authority. Even if such power is not in itself bad, its exercise is likely to impede the functioning of those spontaneous ordering forces by which, without understanding them, man is in fact so largely assisted in the pursuit of his aims. We are only beginning to understand on how subtle a communication system the functioning of an advanced industrial society is based – a communications system which we call the market and which turns out to be a more efficient mechanism for digesting dispersed information than any that man has deliberately designed.

If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible. He will therefore have to use what knowledge he can achieve, not to shape the results as the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate a growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner in which the gardener does this for his plants. There is danger in the exuberant feeling of ever growing power which the advance of the physical sciences has engendered and which tempts man to try, "dizzy with success", to use a characteristic phrase of early communism, to subject not only our natural but also our human environment to the control of a human will. The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society – a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, February 14, 2009

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Not ‘stimulus’ but ‘stealfromus’, not security but slavery 0

 Laura Hollis writes:

Instead of our leaders inspiring us with uplifting – and historically true – accounts of America’s exceptionalism (yes, that is the right word), and the can-do attitude of the average American, our current government fills the airwaves with doom and gloom, and warns of impending “crises” and “catastrophes,” unless we sell ourselves to the government, which will take care of us by taking everything we have, denying us control over our own lives, and promising goodies that cannot be paid for. This is not stimulus; it is “stealfromus.” It is not security; it is slavery.

It is self-serving deception of the highest sort, completely and resoundingly refuted by history. Our Founding Fathers never saw the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, or the Sudan. And didn’t need to. They knew enough of government to know that a people dependent upon any form of government would be a people enslaved by it. Nothing in the 200+ years since they lived has proven them wrong.

America was a grand and successful experiment, light years ahead of its time. (And, contrary to what our self-appointed constitutional scholar-President claims, our Constitution does not have a “blind spot.” Someone needs to tell him that the Drafters’ decision to limit government’s power over us was deliberate.) And now, with a single Presidential election, a pile of bad mortgages, and a few giddy and appallingly ignorant headlines, many Americans want to sweep that all away in the name of a ‘change’ which has been proven fatally flawed time and time again. Less than 100 years ago, most people across the planet were peasants by circumstance. Americans are at risk of taking their place in the rarefied pantheon of peoples who have become peasants by vote.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, February 12, 2009

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A bloated behemoth 0

 Jonah Goldberg writes – and we agree with most of what he says:

Now, to be honest, I think President Obama’s stimulus bill is a monstrosity, a bloated behemoth unleashed on America with staggering dishonesty. The centrist "improvements" are like throwing a new coat of paint on a condemned building.

It’s being sold as an emergency stimulus to deal with an immediate problem – the economic downturn – despite being more like a welfare-state wish list festooned with fiscal nonsense. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid touts a whopping 58 percent of the bill as job-creating. No doubt that number is inflated. Even so, what’s the argument for the other 42 percent?

For instance, why is an emergency spending bill weighted down with an authorization for $198 million in payments to Filipino World War II veterans, many of whom live in the Philippines? We owe them the money, but how does sending millions to Manila fend off the American "catastrophe" that Obama says is the price of inaction?

Principled liberals defend the bill while conceding that roughly half the discretionary "emergency" spending won’t even start until two years from now. (Funny coincidence: That’s right around the time Obama’s re-election campaign will kick off.) Good social policy is good social policy, no matter how you get it enacted, they say.

Putting aside the question of whether the ornaments dangling from every branch of this legislative Christmas tree amount to good policy, there’s still the matter of why Democrats are afraid of the normal process. Sneaking into the package hundreds of millions for, say, sex education, the National Endowment for the Arts and sod for the National Mall doesn’t suggest a lot of confidence that Americans support such liberal priorities.

If they don’t, what did they expect when they voted the Democrats into power? 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, February 11, 2009

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Making bad times much worse 0

 John Hawkins writes in Townhall:

In today’s dollars, the stimulus bill will cost more than the war in Korea and the war in Iraq – combined! It will cost about the same amount as FDR’s New Deal AND the war in Vietnam combined! It’ll cost far more than the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, and putting a man on the moon – combined!

Those were momentous events in our history. Going to the moon, rebuilding Europe, fighting wars – meanwhile, ten years from now, we’ll have very little to show from this stimulus plan other than a considerably larger national debt and slower economic growth. In other words, all hyperbole aside, this may very well be the single least effective, most wasteful, most costly piece of legislation in all of recorded human history.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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The tingle man becomes entangled 0

 … with disappointing reality; gets no stimulating massage from the stimulus message.

Jennifer Rubin writes at Commentary’s ‘contentions’ website:

It seems that the Obama team is losing all sorts of things. Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh sounds panicky as he warns the President “has all but lost control of the agenda in Washington at a time when he simply can’t afford to do so.” We are told:

The decisive issue here is leadership. The lack of it is what is plaguing the Obama administration. Every war needs a successful general, and this administration doesn’t have one yet.

Hirsh thinks the problem is giving in to those tiresome Republicans who don’t want to lard up a “stimulus” bill. But, of course, the real problems started when the President ceded the floor to Nancy Pelosi and in return got what virtually everyone agrees is an embarrassing, unworkable bill.

Politico says he’s “losing the stimulus message war.”

And Chris Matthews may have lost the tingle:

You knew Kennedy wanted the Peace Corps; wanted to put a man on the moon, wanted civil rights. You knew Reagan was out there cutting taxes to make government smaller. What’s Barack Obama doing? He keeps talking about his stimulus package like it’s some big Santa’s bag filled with all sorts of sundry items: extended unemployment benefits, “green” jobs, aid to states. But how on earth does this trillion-dollar grab bag work? How does spending this money—all of it borrowed—repeat, all of it borrowed, going to help the country get moving again?

But all of this “losing” raises a question about temperament. Remember how critical that was, how impressed everyone was with Obama’s temperament during the campaign? Well, some ofus questioned ”the Zen-like benefits of inactivity.” And sure enough it seems that vaunted temperament has manifested itself as passivity or cluelessness. Yes, he’s very calm — as he’s losing control and losing influence.

Granted, calm is good. Focus, decisiveness, good judgment and leadership would be better.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, February 5, 2009

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