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Works and Days

The Imaginarium of Barack Obama

November 16th, 2011 - 8:44 am

There are lots of ways to bring Americans together across class and racial lines. One in the imaginarium is to focus on the “teabag, anti-government people.” Another is to encourage Hispanics to “punish our enemies” — or have the attorney general lambaste Americans as racial “cowards” and to defend “my people.” Joining foreign governments to sue a fellow American state is no more red/no more blue state unity. Still another is to divide up the people between the suspect who make over $200,000 and the noble who make less, or yet again target the dubious “1%” at “the very top” who do not pay “their fair share,” a mere 40% of the aggregate income tax.

Inside the imaginarium, the way to demonize the “1%” is to vacation among them — whether at Martha’s Vineyard or Costa del Sol. Buying a corporate jet is a waste of the people’s money — unlike daily flying on a much bigger private jet paid by the people.

To encourage energy self-sufficiency, the administration lent a half-billion dollars to campaign donor insiders and got unsellable solar panels in return — as it prevents a huge pipeline from Canada that will bring “shovel-ready” jobs and fuel to the United States far more cheaply than from the volatile Middle East. We have a brilliantly obtuse energy secretary who is a Nobel laureate but who thinks California farms — a record $15 billion in exports this year — will soon blow away and that gas should climb to European levels of about $9 a gallon. In the imaginarium, the purpose of Dr. Chu’s Department of Energy is not to encourage energy production and lower prices, but to find ways to prevent its development in search of raising its cost. The attorney general must be entirely conversant in small matters like a Black Panther voting intimidation case, but was completely ignorant of large ones like Fast and Furious that saw his subordinates sell automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

The president regrets that we are not innovative any more, and have gone “soft” and “lazy.” You see, his efforts at ensuring cradle-to-grave health care entitlements, of granting 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, and of extending food stamps to nearly 50 million are apparently incentives that should have led to a “hard” and “industrious” populace that was more self-reliant and willing to take risks on their own. “Spread the wealth” is a time-honored way of galvanizing people to become more self-disciplined and sufficient.

Business has failed us as well. And the way to get Las Vegas and Super Bowl junketeering CEOs profitable enough again to fund the growing redistributive state, is for them to take risks that result in the sort of massive projects that used to be an American trademark — things like the Hoover Dam, which changed the environmental landscape far more than would the apparently cancelled gargantuan pipeline from Canada to Texas. Business can be encouraged not to be lazy by a prod now and then — either by trying to shut down a big aircraft plant or a small guitar factory. And in the imaginarium, the way to gently chide the private sector is with words of encouragement like “millionaires and billionaires,” and “corporate jet owners,” along with grandfatherly advice to clueless capitalists about realizing the point at which they should cease making money.

In the imaginarium of Barack Obama there is no contradiction between smearing and shaking down Wall Street, a bunch that needs both to be told when and when not to profit, and to whom and to whom not to give tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Barney Frank, who helped pressure Wall Street and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to issue billions in unsound loans, and Chris Dodd, who shook down fat cats for below-market interest rates for his vacation home, logically are the eponymous heroes of the Dodd-Frank fiscal reform act to ensure others do not do as did they. Former liberal governor, senator, and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, who both wrecked MF Global and can’t account for $600 million in lost investments, is, in George Soros-like fashion, the best emblem of the contradictory desire to be the worst pirate on Wall Street in order to make the most money in order to be its most liberal critic. In the imaginarium we receive advice about the need for higher income taxes from multibillionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who have always sought to avoid them. Big government and big inheritance taxes, both magnates swear are good, and therefore the administration of their own postmortem fortunes will forever avoid both.

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