Ed Driscoll

Sitting Out Obama

"To other people's money." (Photo by Pete Marovich/Pool/Sipa USA)

After rounding up some of the ways that Mr. Obama and his advisors past and present have misread the business world, Victor Davis Hanson writes, “The only thing more discouraging to investors than class warfare generally is a certain type of class warfare:”

A hypocritical crusade that emanates from the upper classes and selectively targets enemies on the basis not of wealth, but of the degree to which they have failed to buy exemptions with their wealth. Meanwhile, on the other end, the message is more weeks of unemployment insurance, vastly more food-stamp recipients, and constant promises of mortgage-debt relief, credit-card-debt relief, and tuition-debt relief. If one were to dream up a perfect way to destroy incentives on both the top and bottom ends, one could do no better than what we have seen since 2009.

The net result is that those with capital, even if they are small businesses, do not believe that the Obama administration likes them. They feel that regulations will increase, that taxes will increase, that energy costs will increase, and that as they pay more to government and keep less, government will nevertheless become even more arrogant and inefficient — and they will become even more demonized. When people pay over 50 percent in payroll, federal, state, and local taxes and are still caricatured as “not paying their fair share,” a sort of collective shrug follows and bodes ill for the economy at large. One need not be liked to make money, but the constant presidential harangues finally take their toll in insidious ways.

Countless times each day, a contractor chooses to hire only a part-time electrician, a CEO hoards cash rather than opens a new plant, a renting family declines to buy a reasonably priced new house, an indebted graduate heads home to kick back and wait until “something turns up,” and an unemployed worker wonders whether it is not wiser to receive all two years of federal benefits before reentering the work force.

I don’t know whether Mitt Romney’s economic package will bring instant prosperity. But I suspect that the fact alone that it is not what we have seen and heard for the last four years will unleash a pent-up energy of the sort we have not seen in a long time. In short, President Obama has achieved the impossible — he has convinced millions of rational, profit-minded Americans eager to invest, buy, and hire that he doesn’t worry much whether they do.

Which leads to an interesting paradox — whenever a state or a region really goes blue, the middle class is invariably squeezed out, leading to, as Steven Greenhut recently noted about California, a state now running “for the benefit of the very rich, the very poor and public employees. As a result, population growth [in CA] has slowed as younger people and businesses are pushed out.” Hence the title of Greenhut’s article, “California to middle class: drop dead.”

But as Roger L. Simon writes today, “Socialism is a rich man’s game:”

Oh, sure, random overheated (sometimes impoverished) Occupiers agitate for their version of economic equality, possibly gumming up the works at the Lincoln Tunnel, but the real financial justice action comes from the wealthy – or so it would seem.

And I’m not just talking about Hollywood, where George Clooney is full steam ahead on a putative record-breaking ten million dollar fundraiser for Barack Obama, or the laughably meretricious theatrics of the “Buffett Tax” that no one would pay anyway, but across the nation.

According to a book about to be released, The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, Obama has held more fundraisers than all presidents since Nixon combined.

What does this have to do with socialism?  A lot, really, because what Obama promises – especially in his second term — is a socialism of permanent elites, a kind of new, very American, version of the old Soviet-style nomenklatura. And those who are in it will get to stay in it (via government support) as social mobility, aka the American Dream, diminishes or disappears.

This was what socialism ultimately was all about, indeed is all about, the preservation of nomenklaturas, whether of Hollywood, the media, union, and bureaucratic leadership or what remains of selected industry. Keep hoi polloi out.

All those fundraisers and bundlers, from Clooney to the considerably more anonymous, know this on one level or another. It’s certainly not subtle and those too clueless to understand were reminded by the recent quasi-blacklisting of potential Romney supporters. A warning shot was fired. No elite status for them.

Which would seem like a powerful incentive to create more wealth to create more socialists — but perhaps only wealth created by Obama-approved means (i.e. crony venture socialism) is acceptable. Otherwise:

“[Obama] always talked about the New Rochelle train, the trains that took commuters to and from New York City, and he didn’t want to be on one of those trains every day,” said Jerry Kellman, the community organizer who enticed Obama to Chicago from his Manhattan office job. “The image of a life, not a dynamic life, of going through the motions… that was scary to him.”

Yes, commuting to work every day from the suburbs — a geographic location that Obama admitted 20 years ago he finds boring — for an honest day’s paycheck is merely going through the motions and “scary.”

No wonder, as Bill Daley, the former White House chief of staff recently admitted, “The president has a very difficult time with the business community. Most people in business and most people who are successful are Republican that’s just a fact of life.”

At least in this reality, which our Anthropologist in Chief invariably seems to have supreme trouble relating to.