The Obama administration believes the State — erroneously called “government” — is in the salvation business. The belief is so pervasive that it colors every program proposed by Washington. Sadly, millions of Americans willingly accept the canard that State-initiated directives are the engine of change for all that’s good in society.
If history is any indicator, the faith is ill-placed. How many past political regimes that promised salvation instead brought tyranny and oppression? The absence of any exceptions proves the rule.
Many elderly Americans often point to the New Deal of FDR as an exception. This is fallacious reasoning. Too many people assume that there were only two alternatives in the 1930s — continued depression or government intervention. Few people realize that “the independent Federal Reserve System was to blame for the mistaken monetary policy that converted a recession into a catastrophic depression. . . . The depression was produced by a failure of government, not of private enterprise.”
Herbert Hoover, a Republican, was voted out, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, voted in. Roosevelt “was a fresh face, exuding hope and optimism. . . . He promised if elected to cut waste in government and balance the budget, and berated Hoover for extravagance in government spending and for permitting government deficits to mount.”
That’s right. Hoover had already started the printing presses, and FDR promised to stop them. Instead, he expanded the State and people of his generation hailed him as a new Caesar.
Obama’s supporters point to FDR as an example of how successful a benevolent government can be. Governments can’t benevolent because they don’t have any money. They either have to confiscate it or print it, both immoral.
Obama hopes to revive the fond memories of Roosevelt’s policies, policies that were adopted from the earlier experience of Bismarck’s Germany and Fabian Socialism in England.
There’s a massive confusion at the core of our politics. Against all evidence, everyone expects government to guarantee economic growth and higher living standards. It can’t. Even the New Deal failed to pull the nation out of the Depression. World War II did that by boosting factory production. But the expectation of government as economic miracle worker is deeply entrenched, and politicians pander to it. For the past three decades, presidents have used the language of economics to rationalize deficits and, in the process, reward their supporters.
Wars, of course, are anomalies and should not be used as standards for economic policy. World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam did much to hide the negative effects of government spending on the overall economy. The Cold War era kept the monetary engines roaring. Coupled with military spending, government social programs expanded beyond anything FDR could have imagined.
Our nation, contrary to liberal social spenders, is not reaping the excesses of the Reagan-Bush years. We are reaping the whirlwind of the massive interventionism of the New Deal era. Reagan and, to a certain extent, Bush simply hoped to slow the steamroller effects of New Deal liberalism. Reagan was only partially successful. He did decrease the tax burden early in his first administration. The gains were lost, however, in his second term and nearly wiped out under the Bushes.
One of the most famous utopian novels is Edward Bellamy’s widely read Looking Backward, 2000-1887, published in 1887. In this utopian fantasy a Rip Van Winkle character goes to sleep in the year 1887 and awakens in the year 2000 to discover a changed world. His twenty-first century companions explain to him how the utopia that astonishes him emerged in the 1930s from the hell of the 1880s. “That utopia involved the promise of security ‘from cradle to grave’—the first use of the that phrase we have come across—as well as detailed government planning, including compulsory national service by all persons over an extended period.”
Bellamy’s fiction became much of the world’s reality in twentieth-century communism. Bellamy believed that “human nature is naturally good and people are ‘god-like in aspirations . . . with divinest impulses of tenderness and self-sacrifice.’ Therefore, once external conditions are made acceptable, the Ten Commandments become ‘well-nigh obsolete,’ bringing us a ‘second birth of the human race.’”
Bellamy managed to mix the perversions of communism, secularism, and New Age philosophy into one impossible world. It is horrifying to realize that this present administration is attempting a similar mix and a majority of people are buying it. Actually, they’re getting it for free.