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Your RedState front-page contributors have a lively back-channel communications system, in which we plot and plan strategy and discuss the critical issues of the day. (And yes, we talk about you too, Dear Readers.)
One of my colleagues just expressed the meaning of his life thusly:
“I absolutely LIVE to drive fast. I work and advance my career so that I can have frakking fast cars. That pesky little house and other possessions are there merely to facilitate my car habit.”
This statement was remarkable to me, given that I’m a New Yorker (say what you want about that, I’ve heard it all), and more to the point, that I’m not a licensed driver. When I need to go somewhere in a car, I pay someone else to drive me.
But I believe that my friend and colleague’s views on the matter of driving are a lot closer to normal than mine are. And that got me thinking about some important aspects of Obama’s economic blueprint for America.
We conservatives waste a lot of time screaming that Obama is a socialist who wants to take over the economy and end capitalism. Not only is that wrong, but it’s wrong in ways that make us look a little silly when we say it.
Marxism as a principle for economic organization was discredited among the intellectual left wing as far back as the Sixties. (What did they place their hopes in at that time? A radical, revolutionary Maoism. You should thank God every day that that didn’t go anywhere either.)
Obama doesn’t want to take over the economy or to end capitalism. He’ll be the first one to tell you that powerful things happen when ordinary people pursue the profit motive.
Instead, he and his associates want to redirect capitalism, by changing the incentives you and I face in our economic lives. They still want us to pursue profits, but they want to change the rules so that, in pursuing profits, we’ll actually do the things they want done. They want us to do the heavy lifting.
And that’s what brought me to the subject of frakking fast cars.
Every single chance he gets, Obama goes out of his way to say that if we create a green economy, we’ll generate millions of jobs, and vault to economic leadership of the world. (I thought we already were the economic leaders, but forget about that.)
What’s a green economy all about? To Obama, it’s all about building technologies and processes for wind and solar based power, and to eliminate oil, gas and coal. Let’s examine why that might not work so well.
Being very serious, it’s entirely possible and credible for the government to redirect incentives and thus to create economic activity that wasn’t there before. That’s the linchpin of the theory that a government-directed push into green energy will revitalize the economy.
To put it very crudely, Obama wants to spend government money giving you a job working on wind and solar power. You’ll take the job for sure, if there are no others for you, and you’ll be thrilled to have the money.
So far, so good. That part actually works in theory and can even work in practice.
The problem is this: why do you actually want money in the first place? Well, everyone wants to buy food, clothing, and shelter. Once you have the basics covered, what’s left?
Frakking fast cars.
Go back and re-read the quote from my RedState colleague that I started with. If the incentives in your life are all about driving fast cars (or whatever guilty pleasure is your personal favorite), then what happens when you can’t buy them anymore because they’re too expensive, too socially-unacceptable, or both?
The answer is that you won’t bother working any harder than needed to earn the necessities.
Read that sentence again to yourself a couple of times. It contains the fatal flaw in Obama’s plan to remake America by re-tuning our economic incentives.
He wants to give us an economy based on developing wind and solar power. That’s what Obama wants most in life. But if that’s not what you want most in life, then you won’t work all that hard for it. And his plan will fail.