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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Low tide for the ocean of tomorrows

Barack Obama’s latest “pivot to the economy” speech will soon fade from memory, just like everything else he says, except for the words he really needs us to forget, such as “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”  But before all the gassy rhetoric and silly claims of a roaring economy only he can see have been lost to the shadowy penumbra of the 24-hour news cycle, let us pause one more time to mock him for quoting Carl Sandburg, and contrast his airy talk of skies and oceans full of tomorrow with grim reality.

“The past is a bucket of ashes,” quoted the President.  “Yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west.  There is only an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows.”  Keep in mind this is coming from the guy who says we can never escape from the horrible mistake of ObamaCare, a disaster that can never be undone no matter how utterly it fails.  No sky full of tomorrows for you, ObamaCare sufferers!  You live forever in 2010, and you’d better learn to be content with whatever the broken system coughs up.

It’s grotesque to hear a President whose policies have been so uniquely awful for young people posture as captain, cruise director, and bartender aboard the S.S. Ocean of Tomorrows.  (Say, that’s not a bad name for Secretary of State John Kerry’s next luxury yacht!)  The doors of opportunity are closing for the young, as ObamaCare annihilates the entry-level job market, and the equally important second rung on the career ladder.  The chance to get a foot in the door with a part-time opening, then work up to full-time hours and better wages, grows more scarce as full-time jobs become part-time.  A collapsing workforce puts more experienced, reliable workers in the hunt for the sort of jobs that businesses used to gamble on eager young kids.  Small businesses have stopped hiring, choking off the engine of American job creation.  Young people view entrepreneurship as a tedious slog through a regulatory quagmire, with dim prospects of success… and if you do succeed, you instantly become a hated Enemy of the People, with Barack Obama standing by to explain how you didn’t build that, someone else made that happen, you benefited unfairly from collective resources and exploited your workers, how dare you question the latest tax hike.

James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute lists “five horrible job stats” that Obama obviously didn’t want to mention while he was recycling his 2008 campaign speeches and reselling them under a new “Middle Out” label.  One of these stats was the collapse of the workforce, which has accounted for almost all of the decline in the official U-3 unemployment rate.  If you add the missing workers back in, today’s rate is virtually unchanged from 2009.

The other four states on Pethokoukis’ grim list chronicle The Greatest Story Never Told, the wholesale transformation of America into a nation of part-time waiters and waitresses, which the media studiously avoids discussion when they pretend each new dismal Obama unemployment report is a signpost on the road to recovery.  Over 69 percent of the jobs created in the second quarter of 2013 came from the three lowest-wage sectors of the economy: retail, administrative services, and leisure & hospitality.  Cash registers, filing cabinets, and deep fryers are the tools of their trade.  Furthermore, Pethokoukis notes “a large majority of the jobs created in Q2 2013 appear to have been part time jobs,” offering less than 35 hours per week of work.

That’s the ObamaCare Effect.  There’s nothing mysterious about it.  Businesses have a cash-money incentive to keep their full-time staff small, to avoid the most onerous ObamaCare mandates.  Anyone who thinks they were going to indulge in a hiring binge after King Barack I decreed a one-year reprieve on the employer mandate – knowing they would have to downsize all those jobs one year later – is as foolish as Obama.  And why is President Sky-Full-of-Tomorrows offering one-year delays from job-killing mandates?  The horizon on that sky full of tomorrows lies just beyond the 2014 midterm elections.

Here’s a glimpse of the weak, bleak future Obama really has in mind, from earlier in his speech:

Today, more students are earning their degree, but soaring costs saddle them with unsustainable debt.  Health care costs are slowing, but many working families haven’t seen the savings yet.  And while the stock market rebound has helped families get back much of what they lost in their 401ks, millions of Americans still have no idea how they’ll ever be able to retire.  In many ways, the trends that I spoke of here in 2005 – of a winner-take-all economy where a few do better and better, while everybody else just treads water – have been made worse by the recession.

This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong; it’s bad economics.  When middle-class families have less to spend, businesses have fewer customers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy.  When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther apart, it undermines the very essence of this country.

That’s why reversing these trends must be Washington’s highest priority.  It’s certainly my highest priority.  Unfortunately, over the past couple of years in particular, Washington hasn’t just ignored the problem; too often, it’s made things worse.

Curse that dratted Washington!  If only Barack Obama could live there for a while, and fix things.  He must be furious at whoever has been in charge “over the past couple of years in particular.”  Just wait until he finds out that the nameless President who held office from 2009 through 2012 usurped extraordinary executive powers at every turn, making him even more personally responsible than his predecessors for the disaster America has been living through!

For example, look at those soaring costs and unsustainable debt lumped on students.  I tremble to think of Barack Obama’s rage when he learns the president he unseated in 2012 seized control of the student loan market, using a health care bill, of all things.  And he might want to have a word with the teachers’ unions about the appalling state of public education, which has made those overpriced college degrees – cost pumped up by the most dramatic price inflation seen by any product in the United States over these past years! – necessary for even the most basic low-level employment.  Everyone knows public-school education is all but worthless; that’s why a college diploma is indispensable for every career, and colleges spend a good deal of their time teaching material that high-school students were expected to master 50 years ago.  Maybe if we had better public schools, we wouldn’t have a bloated, expensive college system sending kids into a barren job market with six figures of debt on their shoulders.

Millions of Americans have no idea how they’re going to retire?  Wait until they learn the Democrats have been lying to them about the solvency of Social Security and Medicare for decades.  Soon all of the federal government’s money will be consumed in a losing battle to pay meager benefits that don’t kick in until we are well into our seventies.  One of the reasons why is that we don’t have a booming market of young people blossoming into productive careers, creating the tax base necessary to fund benefits for the elderly.  The ratio of active workers to retirees and welfare beneficiaries is plummeting dangerously.  If you want to see what it looks like when the takers outnumber the makers, plan a trip to Detroit, the wonder city of Obamanomics.

The real key to understanding our socialist future is Obama’s endless obsession with “inequality.”  No more perfect vehicle for political power has ever been devised – none without a pile of jackboots in the trunk, anyway.  Inequality is forever.  It’s the problem that can never be solved.  Even after a century of unchallenged rule, the socialist will be able to point at some remnant of “inequality” and declare the need for even more power, and more redistribution, to address it.  And of course, it’s never their fault, just like the inequality under Obama’s policies isn’t his fault, even though no one has done more to separate the rungs on the ladder of opportunity than he has.

The inequality between politically-connected businesses with the right Party credentials, and honest competitors in the free market, is never a concern for him, is it?  Who better to ask about “winner-take-all” economics than Obama’s cronies at Solyndra, or his big campaign-cash bundlers, like Jon Corzine?

Take special note of Obama’s assertion that wealthy people get their money by robbing the middle class: “When middle-class families have less to spend, businesses have fewer customers.  When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy.”  That’s a dilithium crystal of ignorance pure enough to power the warp drive of command economics for a hundred years.  And if you want a really unstable bubble, you need intrusive government regulations.  The housing bubble Obama and his congressional Democrat colleagues created should be proof of that.  They almost wiped out the financial system of the planet.  It doesn’t get more unstable than that.

A moral crusade to compel “equality” with ever-expanding central power?  No, thanks.  That’s low tide for the ocean of tomorrows, and if you leave people like Obama in charge long enough, the tide will never come back in.

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