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Works and Days

Obama Bets Against Human Nature — and Usually Loses

August 19th, 2013 - 12:00 am

A good way to get beaten up in the hallway at a tough school is to assure the local king-of-the-hill thug that both of you really have a lot in common. In some sense, Obama’s entire Middle East policy mirrors the hilarious scene in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, where the white punk attired in pseudo-gang attire believes he can out-jive gangbangers into leaving his girl alone. He can’t. Obama has unfortunately become such a wannabe in the eyes of unapologetic Middle East gangsters.

On the home front, Obamacare is imploding largely because interested parties are acting in predictably human ways that escape Obama and his elite technocrats.

Why would an employer incur extra health care costs when he could juggle and reduce employee hours to avoid them? If you work for government most of your life, you are usually not fired, usually expect annual pay raises, and usually are assured of an ample pension.

But not the self-employed. The tire store owner, the 200-acre peach grower, or the restauranteur sees hourly money going out but not necessarily coming in. That constant angst makes the entrepreneur wonder which wrong decision will be the proverbial final expense that breaks his back.

In other words, there is nothing in Obamacare to turn natural self-interest into group interest: not the employer mandate; not the clumsy efforts to force healthy youth to pay a tax for care they most likely will not use; not assuring the well-funded public employee or union member that he can get even better government-brokered insurance; and not even telling the uninsured homeless person that he should sign up and pay something for a plan rather than walk into the free emergency room or local cost-free government clinic.

At the very time the president made it in the material and psychological self-interest of the employer to pull back from hiring, he gave equally negative incentives for people to scramble for work by vastly expanding food stamps, unemployment and disability benefits, and health care entitlements. The result is that a part-time job in Obama’s new economy is either no better, or often worse, than receiving government benefits while sitting at home. Why would most — human nature being what it is — take a break from watching daytime television to take a pay cut to pick peaches or mop floors?

Bosses are also human, and resent the tiresome class rhetoric. “Spread the wealth” or “not the time for profit” initially could be written off as the president’s funny tics. But add in “fat cat,” “one percent,” “millionaires and billionaires,” and “you didn’t build that” and the monotonous becomes bothersome and finally odious.

The business person is all too human and understands that Obama seems to resent his success, and thus will seek to regulate it further, tax it more, and deride it in ways that express either his ignorance of how hard it is to make a profit or a teenage sense of envy of earned success. But an economy is simply the sum total of millions of private agendas — partly the result of predictable material self-interest, partly a consequence of equally predictable notions of honor or pride. Feeling that the president does not respect what you do does not encourage risk-taking; magnified millions of times over, that individual stasis instead leads to a collective slowdown.

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Top Rated Comments   
The inability to understand human nature, or to take it into account, is the left's first and fatal flaw.

Everything they do requires that individuals be subsumed within the collective. For their programs to be successful, individuals must be willing to work just as hard and produce just as much for the benefit of the collective as they would for themselves. Individuals who produce great wealth through their own efforts must be willing to have that wealth redistributed among the collective. We all must be willing to accept that government--the only thing we all belong to--is the collective expression of our combined will, our individual wills be damned.

That this is completely contrary to human nature either escapes those on the left entirely or is simply ignored. We must submit to the common good. If we can not be persuaded intellectually or emotionally to act in ways contrary to our natures, we must be compelled by penalty of law. This is the root of totalitarian government.

Our Founders in their infinite wisdom did understand human nature. It's why the Constitution treats us as individuals free to pursue our own interests and limits the government's ability to interfere in those interests. It's why the left must so often employ extra-constitutional and non-constitutional means to achieve their goals. And why they have to convince themselves that they know the better way because their superior humanity, empathy and intellect guide them rather than a piece of parchment on which a bunch of dead white guys wrote a bunch of antiquated rules characterized by a general lack of compassion for the downtrodden masses.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have a Harvard lounge lizard facing a former Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB.
You do the math.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
VDH missed an edit to his superb article. Third paragraph, first sentence, should read: In a word, he does NOT seem to know much about human nature, whether in the concrete or abstract sense.

Obama´s strength is that he uses his race as a shield from the consequences of the identical policies and massive government corruption that black, Democratic mayors and councilmen have inflicted on Detroit, Camden, Newark and other American cities. And, that Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jesse Jackson Jr and the CBC are doing on the confressional level. There is absolutely nothing different in Obama´s policies than what Detroit´s black Democrats have imposed on the now Motorless City for 5 decades. Even though Obama´s tired leftist policies have all failed and will always fail, he escapes criticism and normal cost / benefit analysis because of his color coupled with his party affiliation.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (65)
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VDH makes economic arguments to explain resistance to POTUS and his initiatives, so why does he resort to "human nature"? I wrote about my own view of human 'weakness" here: http://clarespark.com/2011/04/03/progressives-the-luxury-debate-and-decadence/. Not a fan of neoclassical order and asceticism.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
YOU BECOME LIKE THAT WHICH YOU BEHOLD~ YET AMAZING IN POWER & STRENGTH OR HOWLING IN DREAD & PAIN...(per Omnia saecula saecularum)
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Recall the maxim from an old, "tired" Marxist murderer: ULTIMATELY, POLITICAL POWER COMES FROM THE BARREL OF A GUN...MAO
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember the video when Obama visited the Kremlin and faced a line of Russian dignitaries who, to a man, refused to shake hands with him?

Couldn't the man buy a clue then?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
IMAGINE a PM DANTE~ A 10th Circle in the INFERNO: Abandoned by God, despised by Satan & BHO therein condignly confined, in poena damni, to administer the "OSCULUM INFAMOSUM" to the "Father of Lies" and his appointed lackeys and minions,ad aeternum( per omnia saecula, saecularum). DEUS VULT!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is an emotionally petulant adolescent who dislikes his parents and source of everything good that he has been given. As such he will never take responsibility for his own failings, hypocrisy, or personal limitations. Only 3 1/2 more years until we can throw him out of our house. Until then we must try to contain his narcissistic irresponsible hatefulness toward those who pay the bills.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like most demoncrats, aka progressives/communists, his worldview is predicated on a series of premises that really require critical examination if not outrage in response. Conflation is not a cosmological event. And if you really want to be disgusted iat the state of our progressive civilization, take a look at the Miley Cyrus music video that I stumbled on while channel surfing the slime oozing out of the TV set. It exempliifies the 'demoralization' of the progressive agenda. When I finally lighted on Fox News which is not quite as bad as the other disinfo outlets, Colmes was spouting off about O-care and why everyone has to 'play' to make it work (cuz don't you know everyone abuses the system and needs the same '(lack of)quality of care')...at the end of the day it's just another monopoly oriented maintenance plan to subdue the masses. otherwise why the exemptions, (and wait til we see what it disallows eg. catastrophic coverage plans-isn't that what insurance is supposed to be? )We are being taxed based on our existence ( as seen with HC and the coming carbon tax) very un-American.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Human nature is now holding hands with modern tech. Why we are join hands with China is to give us the 99 dollar air conditioner to keep slave wage people in the south working. Take away the cheap air conditioner and see what happens.
Take away the the air conditioning and master and slave would move north in the summer
Truth be real it was an easy win for Mitt Romney in 2008 but the mormon card was played and it should have been still an easy win for John mcCain but wall street destroyed the USA economy and the world economy and it looks like stimulus is the only thing keeping food chains open as well as the USA economy and world economy stable
Now the GOP faces a 2014 election where they can gain seats yet reading some of their plans it could be we see the total destruction of the GOP loser even in 2014 and only another meltdown of Wall street could change the slide of the GOP into total destruction but only if the GOP willing to change their message for 2016
what message should that be: social conservative and social justice uniting all people under the tent of protection from economic meltdown
But Wall street types have paid you to be in bed with their short term profits and then the only way to get back poer is by having a 6 star general antichrist
yikes
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article misses the point through the fundamental flaw of nearly all pieces looking into Obama - it judges him by the same calculus used in examining other presidents. In BO's case, that methodology does not apply.

We can likely agree that previous presidents wanted good things for the country and we either agreed or disagreed with their road map for reaching certain outcomes. With Obama, the outcomes described above are precisely the ones he wanted. Stagnant employment, rising food stamp usage, even the feckless foreign policy are not the result of poor advice or naivete, they are the designed outcome of a man who pledged to fundamentally transform the nation.

All the things that happened on his watch lead to one of two conclusions: he and his administration are either grossly incompetent or they are malevolent. Once you have exhausted all the possible reasons for why something has happened, you must begin looking at reasons that were previously thought impossible.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ecce Homo Foedus: 6 6 6...
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
This man does not concern himself with human nature any more than Stalin, Hitler or Moa did. The press and his clones spin the assault on our freedoms to mollify the masses of any that pay scant attention to his actions. Most are mired in the trivial lives they lead. He already knows, recent scandals aside, that the weight of Obamacare will suck this last best hope of the world to it's knees. How do you combat the rampant ignorance promulgated in our education system and our apparently consensual recognition of the immorality foisted upon us daily in movies, tv shows and "news"? Must we hit bottom before there's a chance for resurrection? It's not just this politician or others, but the never ending intrusive bureaucracies they leave in their wake that must be confronted and dissolved that's the long term threat to our freedoms. I hope the pain that's coming will force the vast majority to action before we dissolve into another example of a great nation that imploded.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Why would most — human nature being what it is — take a break from watching daytime television to take a pay cut to pick peaches or mop floors?"

Many would prefer to work Many rationally do self-employ themselves "off the books" work or find businesses that will pay them off the books. The later arrangement that can be mutually beneficial.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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