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The Peronist in the White House

Controlling the economy, appeasing the masses.

by
Abraham H. Miller

Bio

June 28, 2011 - 12:00 am
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When Peron was ousted from power in 1955 by a military coup, price inflation had reached 500%. Still, the classes that supported him point to the working conditions he changed, the medical and social security benefits he delivered, and the infrastructure he built — without acknowledging the overall disaster that became Argentina’s economy.

So we are now faced with similar economic policies in the Obama administration. Peron knew his base, so too does Obama. The president was elected by the counties with the greatest crime rates, largest rates of unemployment, those most in need of government handouts, and those which would and did most benefit from administration’s redistribution of wealth. Obama mobilized the electoral periphery, those who don’t usually vote. And he nurtured the unions — not just the SEIU, but also the United Auto Workers, who were put at the head of the line, over the bondholders in the GM bailout. (Now Obama’s National Labor Relations Board is preventing Boeing from moving to right-to-work South Carolina.)

Nationalized health care is a program designed to improve the lot of the fifteen percent of the population without health care at the expense of the eighty five percent that are satisfied with it. But those fifteen percent are Obama’s base — just as are the forty-seven percent who don’t pay federal income tax.

Obama is not going to nationalize the means of production. Marxists do that. Peronists build relationships with workers, unions, and the people who will riot in the streets. Peronists use those mechanisms to force compliance from those who oppose them.

Similarly, in Obama’s world, where there is opposition to the policies of labor, the SEIU (Sevice Employees International Union) will be out in force. The administration and a compliant media will be attempting to provide these bullies with both legitimacy and symbolic affirmation. This is what Peron did for the bullies of the CGT.

Marxism is about ownership. Peronism is about control, sometimes through ownership but more often through pressure. If you want to understand pressure, talk to bankers who didn’t want to make marginal loans under the Community Reinvestment Act or those who had almost no subprime mortgages and refused to accept TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money. In both cases, the FDIC exerted enormous pressure to force compliance to decisions banks saw as inimical to their interests.

Obama the Peronist is more insidious, more difficult to fight, because he is not a Marxist. A grab for ownership stares you in the face. It is as blunt as it is obvious. But control is incremental and surreptitious.

Every day we awake to more and more government control, not by ownership, but by unaccountable czars, ukases, and bureaucratic organizations dictating how we conduct our lives.

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Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
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