October 30, 2009

PEGGY NOONAN: We’re Governed by Callous Children: Americans feel increasingly disheartened, and our leaders don’t even notice. But John Galt is present, in spirit at least:

The biggest long-term threat is that people are becoming and have become disheartened, that this condition is reaching critical mass, and that it afflicts most broadly and deeply those members of the American leadership class who are not in Washington, most especially those in business. . . .

I talked with an executive this week with what we still call “the insurance companies” and will no doubt soon be calling Big Insura. (Take it away, Democratic National Committee.) He was thoughtful, reflective about the big picture. He talked about all the new proposed regulations on the industry. Rep. Barney Frank had just said on some cable show that the Democrats of the White House and Congress “are trying on every front to increase the role of government in the regulatory area.” The executive said of Washington: “They don’t understand that people can just stop, get out. I have friends and colleagues who’ve said to me ‘I’m done.’ ” He spoke of his own increasing tax burden and said, “They don’t understand that if they start to tax me so that I’m paying 60%, 55%, I’ll stop.”

He felt government doesn’t understand that business in America is run by people, by human beings. Mr. Frank must believe America is populated by high-achieving robots who will obey whatever command he and his friends issue. But of course they’re human, and they can become disheartened. They can pack it in, go elsewhere, quit what used to be called the rat race and might as well be called that again since the government seems to think they’re all rats. (That would be you, Chamber of Commerce.)
***

And here is the second part of the story. While Americans feel increasingly disheartened, their leaders evince a mindless . . . one almost calls it optimism, but it is not that. . . . We are governed at all levels by America’s luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they’re not optimists—they’re unimaginative. They don’t have faith, they’ve just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don’t mind it when people become disheartened. They don’t even notice.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Reader Stephen Clark writes:

So . . . Peggy Noonan apparently has had her fill.

I must say, I hope that she’s ready to take some measure of responsibility. Some folks, outside of the hermetically sealed world of Washington and the greater east coast corridor, noticed all this long, long ago. And, as I recall, it was the same Ms. Noonan that waxed almost rhapsodic over the prospects of our current President.

It’s very good of her now to take note. Better late than never, I suppose.

Yeah. Too rhapsodic about Obama, too hard on the actual adults.