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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama Offers Circuses Without the Bread

Unemployment is up and the economy is down. The price of flour is up by 5 percent, the price of ground beef is up by 4 percent and the price of wine has gone up a whopping 8 percent. Even the price of bread has gone up from Obama's inauguration. Obama had promised "bread" and in six months in office, he has delivered nothing but circuses.

The Roman poet Juvenal wrote in his collection of satirical poems, "Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties. For the People... now anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses." And a people that hopes for nothing more than a bread dole and entertainment are a people who no longer rule, but are ruled by those who dispense the grain and crack the ringmaster's whip.

In his time Lenin promised the Russian people, "Bread, Land and Peace." He delivered none of these three things, there was neither land, nor bread and nor peace under Communism. Instead there was an endless circus of propaganda, a hollow brutal spectacle of brainwashed children, murdered millions and leader worship above all else.

Since then, circuses without the bread have become the legacy of socialism. From Kim Jong Il's empty towering hotels, to Castro's endless rambling speeches, from the USSR's forest of monuments to the EU's grandiose exercises in branding-- circuses are always easier to deliver than bread.

In his own six months in office, Obama has made high profile trip after trip around the world. He has given numerous high profile speeches at national landmarks and in prime time television, in Cairo and Ankara. He has been photographed with numerous world leaders and influenced not a single one. He has flown Air Force One on a date to New York accompanied by camera crews, and stood by while Air Force Two buzzed Manhattan to get him a postcard he can send around to his supporters. He has appeared on numerous magazine covers, twittered and appointed more Czars than the entire Romanov dynasty. And still the price of bread goes up.

The problem, as numerous socialist dictators, including most recently Venezuela's Chavez, have discovered is that socialism and a rising standard of living tend to be mutually exclusive things. The more socialism, the lower the standard. A rising tide may float all boats, but a dam only leads to splintered masts and a great big pileup of boats... in the name of equality.

A government can't set the standard of living, only hand out a dole. It is why Obama's economic recovery program has emerged as nothing more than a huge heaping of pork, not bread, with a socialist overlay. Government can consume resources, but it cannot produce them more efficiently than the free market can. A year after the Krugmanites on both sides of the Atlantic were busy celebrating the death of free market capitalism, and ushering in the glorious era of Big Government Uber Alles, the circus has never left town, but the bread is noticeably absent.

The question to be asked is how long the public will gaze at the circuses, or be satisfied with the occasional bread dole, rather than be able to earn a living for themselves. That is the fundamental question on which the fate of Obama's administration hangs. For a man whose victory was heavily tied to a nation crying out, "Where's the Beef?" after a decade and a half of prosperity, trying to feed America a diet of his own celebrity appearances makes for a very thin gruel indeed.

When the price of basic staples rises, even Obama's strongest supporters, at least those who haven't been rewarded with a bailout, will discover that you can't eat magazine covers. Or nationally televised speeches. Or commemorative bobbleheads. A cult of personality is no substitute for jobs. And idolizing a figure as the solution to all your problems works better for Oprah viewers who don't actually have jobs, than for a larger American public that isn't in the market for unemployment.

A nation of slaves can subsist on bread and circuses, but America is not a nation of slaves yet. And circuses without the bread, would leave even slaves with empty stomachs. The Soviet Union was forced to beat and starve its way to wealth redistribution in order to provide bread for its people. And when that would no longer work and the spoils of wealth redistribution and war had both been consumed, they were forced to turn to its worst enemy, the United States, which had still maintained a free market economy, to buy bread.

The circuses went on in the Soviet Union, the parades, the cults of personality and the military posturing all continued; but the bread now came from Iowa. The question is where America's bread will come from if Obama's reign continues. Perhaps the rich wheat fields of Northern China? Obama's latest high profile foreign affairs meeting was with China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan, where he stated that America's relationship with China would define the 21st century. Unlike many statements that Obama has made, that one will likely be true. But how that relationship will define America depends on who sits in the White House.

While the US administration presses the former die hard Communists of the People's Republic of China to build up a safety net, and in short to become more socialist, a paradoxical message to send by the former homeland of the free market economy to a Communist nation. "The pursuit of power among nations must no longer be seen as a zero-sum game," Obama told the Chinese Vice Premier at the Ronald Reagan building. An ironic location for Obama to deliver such a Gorbachevesque statement, leaving the PRC to play Reagan. While Obama may no longer see power among nations as a zero sum game, the Chinese do. And they also know a loser when they see one.

Today Made in America has been replaced by Made in China. While China makes everything we use, America specializes in making circuses. As a result the import-export balance has shifted China's way some time ago. Now with the US economy in decline, China has a major stake in a devalued America, and a chance to redirect that wealth finish the job of building a fully industrialized nation, while carving up its Asian neighbors, and parts of Africa too. While Obama works to socialize America, China is giving capitalism a giant bear hug and crushing our economy in the process.

Between Obama's war on business, and China's ruthless pursuit of business; America's future as a free market economy is being squeezed out. It now makes more sense than ever for American companies to escape a government that dreams of Sweden's social policies, backed by the sensible long range economic planning of the USSR.

While Obama tap dances his way through another glib address that is long on meaningful pauses and short on content, China forgoes the circuses and heads straight for the bottom line. Our victory in the Cold War is being replayed all over again, but this time the Communist superpowers have learned their lessons by embracing capitalism, while we embrace Communism. This time we are on the losing side of economics and of history, and the price we may pay for that folly could be far graver than we can imagine.

The bread is out, the circuses keep playing to dwindling crowds, and the future of America hangs in the balance.

3 comments:

Lemon said...

Its very much like the Carter days when the economy was very very bad.
No one had money, gas was almost rationed and lines were blocks long to get gas.
In one of the coldest winters on record in the east home heating fuel was scarce.
Housing prices went up through the roof as did rents .
Food went from 15 dollars a week to over 65 dollars a week.

With Obama things will get to where everyone will be poor and needy.

Keli Ata said...

Yep. And as I recall, Carter, in a last ditch effort to save his presidency resorted to those "surplus cheese" giveaways in the mid 70s.


From what I recall as a kid watching it on the news it had the look of those long food lines in Communist Russia. Those images may have rattled American voters more than anything else Carter did.

Obama won the election largely as a novelty. Now people see him as in way over his head. Hopefully the Republicans won't walk on egg shells and will treat him as they would any incompetent president and the country will have a chance.

Watch for Obama to start handing out surplus food. He'll eventually do it, mark my words.

Morry Rotenberg said...

As Margaret Thatcher famously said "the only problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of spending other people's money."
Obama has two roads to take after the democrats get kicked out of Congress in 2010; either Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. He can move to the center and get re-elected or stay where he is on the far left and be a one term (failed) president. I suspect that his ideology will lead him to the latter road.

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