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To some people, government appears as a vast reservoir of power which inspires them to dream of what use might be made of it. They have favorite projects of various dimensions which they sincerely believe are for the benefit of mankind. They are thus disposed to recognize government—an instrument of passion, the art of politics to inflame and direct desire.
-Michael Oakeshott – English political philosopher 1901-1990Obama and “the art of politics is to inflame and direct desire”
When Obama became president the American economy was stagnant. Relying on an $800 billion stimulus package to spur the economy, Obama marshaled his Presidential power toward his favorite projects – ObamaCare, green energy, world statesman, and pleasing his electoral base; especially unions.
Maureen Dowd in the New York Times laments Obama’s failure to emphasize job creation. Analogous to Oakeshott’s depiction of a politician’s zeal to change mankind, Dowd describes Obama’s attempt to inflame and direct desire:
Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed.
Juxtaposed to a politician’s passion to remake mankind is Gary Becker, a noble laureate in economics from the University of Chicago. A scholar of government and economic prosperity, Becker describes the damage caused by Obama’s adventure of governing as badly conceived and promulgated legislation, i.e., ObamaCare, Frank Dodd, as well as his requests for more taxes and environmental regulation, and thus created an unstable legal system for investors and consumers. Resultantly, the great recession continues, as quoted by Becker In the Wall Street Journal:
Congress did manage to pass badly designed laws concerning financial markets, consumer protection and medical care. Although regulatory discretion failed leading up to the crisis, Congress nevertheless added to the number and diversity of federal regulations as well as to the discretion of regulators. These laws and the continuing calls for additional regulations and taxes have broadened the uncertainty about the economic environment facing businesses and consumers. This uncertainty decreased the incentives to invest in long-lived producer and consumer goods. Particularly discouraged was the creation of small businesses, which are a major source of new hires.
Once again, President Obama will attempt to “inflame and direct desire” with a speech to a joint session of Congress. Most likely he will focus on more money for union jobs, particularly building roads and bridges. Rather than render null and void ObamaCare, Frank Dodd, and the green agenda, he will propose more debt at the expense of future generations.
How will America respond? At least Dowd has her doubts:
The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium are done.