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"New Deal Narcissism"

Amity Shlaes, on Barack Obama:

The New Deal exists principally on an emotional plane for Obama. To him the New Deal is something you play like a song, to make you or your constituents feel better. Let me be clear: It's too early to judge Obama on economics. But he does seem unaware of the economic consequences of government expansion that happens under the New Deal name.

Politicians generally act as if there is no cost to reconnecting with voters by building new New Deals. But the whole exercise of writing law out of New Deal nostalgia is a form of national narcissism. Call it New Deal narcissism.

We could afford to burnish our social contracts if there were no competition from abroad. But there is.

Which is one reason why the so-called progressives hate globalization. And ironically, one of the primary reasons for the Great Depression, and certainly for its length and depth, was economic isolationism in the form of Smoot-Hawley. The New Deal was a flawed, fascist attempt to make up for our economic disengagement from the world. The war ended the depression. Unfortunately, much of the New Deal, and the mentality that led to it, remains in place. Obama is simply the latest Great Man, a man of Change, and Action, to want to preserve and expand it.


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Carl Pham wrote:

Ironic that our ancestors fled Europe for the most part to get away from the brutal constraints on individual liberty and aspiration always required for the Great Man to refashion heaven and earth For Our Own Good(TM).

Indeed, those who founded our state hated and feared the Caesar so much that much of our Constitution is devoted to preventing him. Even the non-democratic aspects, e.g. the fact that the President is not directly elected, or that the Senate is not apportioned according to population like the House, or the existence of the Federal judiciary, were largely designed to thwart the rise of a Caesar from below, demanded by the mob.

Both Adams and Jefferson would be horrified at the metastatic growth of Federal power, and at the Ein Volk! Ein Führer! tone of Presidential campaigns today.

Jardinero1 wrote:

Fortunately, a good part of the population, the states and the judiciary are beginning to take a critical look at the direction federalism, the commerce clause and ninth and tenth amendments have taken in the last seventy years. Obama and his cronies are going to run headfirst into that and find many of their policy proposals may not be Constitutional in the current era.

tps wrote:

Also remember that the Senate was not elected until the early 1900's. They were chosen by the state legislators instead. That's a system we should go back to I think because it makes the senator a like more responsive to their state and less of a 'national' senator.

Paul Milenkovic wrote:

When I think of the New Deal, I think of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a mass public works project that elevated the status of the rural poor through electrification and provided the electricity for uranium enrichment to bring about the surrender of Imperial Japan.

Think of the New Deal, the TVA, and modern-day Democrats' approach to energy policy, and weep.

Carl Pham wrote:

Paul, the success of the TVA, while a staple of left propaganda for decades, has been debated. Have a look here, for example. A few points argued:

* Per capita income growth in the areas surrounding TVA met or exceeded growth in the TVA area.

* Rural electrification actually progressed more slowly in the TVA area than in nearby areas.

* TVA is the nation's worst violator of the Clean Air Act.

* One of the more famous and alarming of the nuclear "accidents" was at Browns Ferry #1, run by the TVA, in 1975.

* The TVA has a long history of questionable financial management; it forks over 35 cents of every dollar it makes to pay off debt, whereas the typical figure for a private power firm is 7 cents.

Whether all these things are exactly true, and whether there are extenuating circumstances et cetera I do not know, but I do know it's "success" is more open to question than the textbooks say.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 23, 2008 10:31 AM.

Resume Padding? was the previous entry in this blog.

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