Roger’s Rules

Paul Krugman and Dorothy Parker

I should have known this was coming. We are, after all, in the silly season. Legislators are on recess and typically return home to take the pulse of their constituents.

The collective pulse is rapid. Blood pressure is elevated. Breathing has quickened. Muscles are tense. The people, in short, are angry. All across the country, in small towns and large cities, citizens are turning out in droves at town meetings to express their concern about the Obama administration’s various policy proposals.

The major focus of criticism are Democratic proposals to transform American health care into a government run concession. That is hardly surprising, since the proposed government takeover of health care is item number 1 on the agenda at the moment. But a quick inventory of what citizens are saying to their duly elected representatives shows that the alarm is being sounded on other elements of Obama’s plan to bring big government, higher taxes, and increased regulation to the land of the formerly free.

There has been plenty of unhappiness about the amazing non-stimulating stimulus package, for example, as people queue up to ask embarrassed legislators exactly where that $800 billion went and what they have to show for it. Facts, as Big Sister Linda Douglass, likes to say, are stubborn things, and presented with the fact of an $800 billion stimulus package, on the one hand, and an unemployment rate that just inched up to 9.6 percent, on the other, people naturally will start asking questions. [UPDATE: a new figure, just released of 9.4 percent, is hardly going to inspire joy.]

Then there the cap-‘n-tax bill, a real kick in the economic groin. Predicated on bogus science about the supposed disastrous effect of man-made carbon emissions on climate change, the bill was every sentimental environmentalist’s wet dream. It’s unclear how much of the bill will survive Senate scrutiny. But that hasn’t prevented people from sitting up and taking notice: the man in the street can tell when government officials are preparing to pick his pocket, and, like the young man in the Mikado, he usually objects. Take a look, if you haven’t seen it, at this video clip showing the condign anger directed at Congressman Tom Bishop (D. NY) when he defends the Cap-and-Trade legislation because “global warming is real” (“No, No” is the rejoinder) and, moreover that “it is caused by human activity.” (The whole thing is worth looking at but this delicious exhibition of stupidity on Congressman Bishop’s part occurs at 3:50 – 4:25.)

The White House, in addition to compiling its enemies list of people who say or write something “fishy” about its policies, has been urging its supporters to get out and “punch back twice as hard.” Obama flack Paul Krugman endeavored to do just that today, claiming that critics of the President’s plans for a government take over were — wait for it — motivated by “racial fear.”

Right. It’s another Dorthy Parker moment for the celebrated New York Times columnist. Let’s see if you have worked this out correctly. Presented with the bloated everything-but-the-kitchen-sink thousand-page obscenity that Rahm Emanuel is endeavoring to shove down the collective gullet of America, why would you be critical? You might fear the government taking over another big chunk of the economy, since that way, you have learned “par expériences nombreuses et funestes,” is a prescription for waste, corruption, and inefficiency. You might be critical because you know that where similar systems have been tried, they have led to health care rationing and a denial of services to many vulnerable parts of the population, especially seniors. You might also be critical because you suspect that the plan will put a damper on medical innovation — one of the key ingredients that has made American health care the best in the world. You might further be critical because you have guessed that the price tag for this government sponsored boondoggle will be enormous and you do not relish paying yet higher taxes to fund it. I think you might be even more critical about the issue of freedom: the fact that, were anything like the Democrats’ plan to be passed, it would limit your freedom of choice in what doctors you see, what treatments you can get, and what sorts of insurance you choose to have (or, come to that, to forgo). There are a dozen things you might not like about the Democratic plans. But what does Paul Krugman seize upon? “Racial fear.” Right. And I, as Miss Parker said, am Marie of Roumania.