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VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Obama’s Paradoxes – National Review Online

August 16, 2011

AUGUST 16, 2011

Obama’s Paradoxes


The Left’s greatest dream is becoming its worst nightmare.

Consider the myriad paradoxes of the Obama age. Unprecedented government borrowing is out of control, unsustainable, and finally causing financial markets to panic. Yet we are told that the necessary cutting ahead will further stall the stalled economy. We went from $9 trillion to $14 trillion in aggregate debt in order to jump-start a sluggish recovery, and failed — only to be warned that if we do not proceed to incur even more debt — from $14 trillion to $16 trillion — we will stall the stalled effort to restart the stalled economy. So more of what did not work most surely will work?

The Left insists that the real problem is not unmanageable debt, but near-record unemployment, as if the two were unrelated. Most Americans apparently once agreed, as Obama easily borrowed nearly $5 trillion in his first two and a half years in office, supposedly to stimulate employers into hiring workers. We are now told the U.S. must borrow more, and should worry less, not more, about paying the money back. The logic of the new Keynesians is that stimulus is never quite achieved because indebtedness is never quite large enough — an Achilles-and-the-tortoise paradox that only insolvency will finally dispel.

Rioting in London and flash mobbing in American cities have raised another paradox: Does contemporary looting and violence follow from physical deprivation or from a boredom, envy, and anger caused by too many subsidies and too little personal initiative and self-reliance? We know that the more we ensure that young people have generous unemployment insurance and government money for housing, food, and education, the more they are likely not to get up at 6 a.m. and take an extra class or look for a job. And yet the more we provide such bread-and-circuses dependencies, the more it becomes dangerous to question such life support. Ask the Emperor Justinian, who cut back on a bloated civil-service and entitlement bureau — and earned the Nika riots, which almost toppled his regime. So even as we suspect that the welfare state is unsustainable, we are told that it alone can prevent social unrest — which we suspect is currently brought about by the welfare state.

via Obama’s Paradoxes – Victor Davis Hanson – National Review Online.


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