The Corner

Are We All Peasants Now?

The U.S. is starting to feel a lot like Europe, where the peasant mindset of a limited good (i.e., any dollar you create is a dollar taken from someone more deserving) reigns, and the technocracy struggles to manage the economy and keep funding its redistributive social services.

We see plenty of reminders that we are now in a managed economy: deficits that will put us over $16 trillion in aggregate debt, reports of a decline in consumer confidence, flat GDP growth (1.7 percent) in 2011, a November housing slump. The administration rejects federal oil and gas leases and the Keystone pipeline while trying to subsidize money-losing green plants and electric cars. Employers who can’t get politically induced exemptions hunker down for the Obamacare take-over. The administration floats all sorts of loan-forgiveness programs, usually framed in the passive voice, to alleged victims who were forced by unscrupulous profiteers to borrow money that they did not really want. The EPA and the NLRB go after private businesses. Extensions of food stamps and unemployment benefits are seen as quasi-jobs programs. Only the administration’s fundraising on Wall Street wins us an occasional respite from class-warfare rhetoric.


The result is a sort of a stagnating recovery, as too many businesses feel that any new risks, from hiring to buying, will run into government-induced health-care costs, EPA regulations, or labor infractions — or higher taxes. The mood of the country is that the public-sector employee, not the entrepreneur, is now the ideal of the great American worker, with unmatched benefits and near-guaranteed tenure; he is better compensated than his private counterpart, and any suggestions of trimming his salaries and benefits raises a storm, whereas private-sector job losses are tough luck, to the extent they are publicized at all. How strange that asking a county public servant to pay more of his health-insurance premiums is considered near felonious while trying to shut down a Boeing plant or a pipeline project that will employ thousands and create real wealth is mostly ignored.


The real legacy of Obamaism is the effort to turn the U.S. into a managed society, run by elite technocrats who are exempt from their own policies and sermons — all premised on the notion that collective unhappiness is the result of unfairness and someone else’s having more than the government-approved norm. In other words, we are supposed to be uniform and static peasants, always on the lookout for “them,” who somehow cheated to get one more pig than we have.


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