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My Reaction to David Brooks

My Reaction to David Brooks

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Published by Sally Morem
I respond to David Brooks column in which he finally expresses doubt about what Obama is up to. I ask pointedly, what took Brooks so long?
I respond to David Brooks column in which he finally expresses doubt about what Obama is up to. I ask pointedly, what took Brooks so long?

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Published by: Sally Morem on Feb 27, 2009
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06/16/2009

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My Reaction to David Brooks’ LatestColumn on Obama (and it’s not pretty)
By Sally Morem
Only capitalism operates on the basis of respect for free, independent,responsible persons. All other systems in varying degrees treat men as lessthan this. Socialist systems above all treat men as pawns to be moved about by the authorities, or as children to be given what the rulers decide is good  for them, or as serfs or slaves.
The rulers begin by boasting about their compassion, which in any case is fraudulent, but after a time they dropthis pretense which they find unnecessary for the maintenance of power 
.
[My emphasis]
In all things they act on the presumption that they knowbest. Therefore they and their systems are morally stunted. Only the free system, the much assailed capitalism, is morally mature
.--Arthur ShenfieldWhy is David Brooks finally questioning Obama after months of warm political affirmations, of gushing over his intelligence, his carefully craftedand articulated speeches, his image?Brooks claims to be a great admirer of thinkers like Hayek who rested their  political philosophical arguments on “knowing how little we know,” arguingthat the limited state was the only type of government fit for limited human beings.In his recent column in the
 New York Times
[February 24, 2009], Brooksadmits his admiration for Obama and his bevy of experts:
 President Obama has concentrated enormous power on a few aides in theWest Wing of the White House. These aides are unrolling a rapid string of  plans: to create three million jobs, to redesign the health care system, to save the auto industry, to revive the housing industry, to reinvent the energy sector, to revitalize the banks, to reform the schools — and to do it all whilecutting the deficit in half.
 
 If ever this kind of domestic revolution were possible, this is the time and these are the people to do it. The crisis demands a large response. The people around Obama are smart and sober. Their plans are bold but seem supple and chastened by a realistic sensibility.
Why would a man who professes to not be a liberal be impressed byObama’s statist views clearly expressed and acted upon before and after hewas elected President? As they say, the writing was on the wall, and thewriting said, “Behold the man. The socialist.”
Yet they set off my Burkean alarm bells.
It took this long? Time to get those batteries checked.
 I fear that in trying to do everything at once, they will do nothing well.
Duh!
 I fear that we have a group of people who haven’t even learned to use their new phone system trying to redesign half the U.S. economy.
Brooks says he read Hayek. Hayek explained at great length why no one person or group can even comprehend the U.S. economy, let alone redesignit efficaciously. Didn’t Brooks learn what Obama was planning to do whenhe was running for President? Didn’t Brooks do any serious reporting at allon that campaign? If so, why didn’t he raise any red flags then?
 I fear they are going to try to undertake the biggest administrative challengein American history while refusing to hire the people who can help the most:agency veterans who are registered lobbyists.
Sorry, not even the smartest experts in the universe will help us out of themess Obama is creating. Statism does nothing but destroy. And when our economy fails to respond to Obama’s tender mercies, Americanconservatives know darned well he’ll keep turning the screws…gleefully.
 I worry that we’re operating far beyond our economic knowledge. Everytime the administration releases an initiative, I read 20 different economistswith 20 different opinions.
 
Duh!
 I worry that we lack the political structures to regain fiscal control.
Duh!
 Deficits are exploding, and the president clearly wants to restrain them.
 No he doesn’t. Obama loves those deficits. They give him more political power, not less. He’s already created $2.5 trillion in deficits in his firstmonth in office. The sky’s the limit with this guy.
 But there’s no evidence that Democrats and Republicans in Congress havethe courage or the mutual trust required to share the blame when taxes haveto rise and benefits have to be cut.
Correction: There is no evidence that any Democrat and some moderateRepublicans in Congress have that kind of courage. True conservativeRepublicans do have that kind of courage. They simply must be releasedfrom the stranglehold that our Politically Correct Republican leadership hasthem under.
 All in all, I can see why the markets are nervous and dropping.
It’s obvious to me, too. Why would sensible capitalists invest in a systemthey know is going socialist? They know where that leads. Economies caneither grow or shrink. Socialists are experts at making them shrink. LikeObama, they punish producers and reward leeches.
 And it’s also clear that we’re on the cusp of the biggest political experiment of our lifetimes. If Obama is mostly successful, then the epistemological  skepticism natural to conservatives will have been discredited. We will knowthat highly trained government experts are capable of quickly designing and executing top-down transformational change.
Sorry, but we know from bitter experience that this can’t possibly happen.It’s not “epistemological skepticism.” It’s hard-won knowledge. Whyshould we keep trying that socialist experiment over and over and over again? Do we really like beating our head against economic reality? Do welove the pain that much?

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