I was recently reading a book by British author, economist, and historian, Niall Ferguson, called “Colossus“, where he compared the British Empire to the American pseudo-empire. Ferguson made it very clear that the American version was far differing in its outcomes than the British, which had numerous factors working in its favor. One of the most glaring differences was that British citizens were far more willing to move to colonies and conquered areas, both to build and develop a British-style administration and to improve infrastructure over decades, where American citizens would rather simply stay put.
There were a number of factors Ferguson cited, in a list by historian David Landes, that are tactics that second- and third-world countries’ economies and legal systems should use to improve and grow. Upon reading this list, I grew dumbfounded as many of the things enumerated within that list, are the polar opposite of the policies of President Obama and his administration, in the last three years in the United States. Instead of moving “Forward” (if you will forgive the use of the already hackneyed campaign slogan of Obama’s), the president acts in ways that are completely contrary to common sense and pro-American beliefs. I post the list below (also posted in one of Ferguson’s previous works, “Empire“) along with my thoughts as I read the tactics:
1. secure rights of private property, the better to encourage saving and investment
This item put me in mind of the egregious Gibson guitar raids in the summer of 2011. Secure rights of private property? Hardly – the U.S. government twice raided the Gibson factory, citing a law from 1900 (more commonly known as the Lacey Act, found here with amended text), that was originally written to protect the trade of feathers for hats. Amended and broadened in 2008, the law now includes plants. Despite legal sales, approved by Indian and Malagasy authorities, the U.S. Feds raided and seized Gibson wood stocks anyway.
2. secure rights of personal liberty...against both the abuses of tyranny and...crime and corruption
Can we honestly say the administration has done this? My mind goes to the loss of Brian Terry’s life, as a result of the “Fast & Furious” scandal, a flawed, illegal, haphazardly executed gun selling operation. Refusing to apologize to Terry’s family, A.G. Holder still balks at producing the papers Congress is requesting from his D.O.J. Another example that is also connected to this program, is the ongoing scuttlebutt that the program’s design was to negatively effect the power of the 2nd Amendment.
3. enforce rights of contract;
I do not feel like there is much more to say than bringing up the government take over of the student loan program, and its take over of healthcare in the country. The government came in, and while promising one thing, delivered everything but.
4. provide stable government...governed by publicly known rules;
Have we seen a good example of this from Democrats? Between their “deemed to have passed” legislation, and a completely “tabled” Senate (also led by Harry Reid and Democrats) – can we honestly call this a “stable government”? With state Congresses fleeing the states to prevent votes on hotly contested legislation, who needs rules and stability? There are plenty of easily understood rules, but if the people in charge choose to ignore them, what do we have?
5. provide responsible government;
Responsible government? Again, I’d like to bring up “Fast & Furious”. Eric Holder continues to serve as Attorney General, and the threat of contempt of Congress does not seem to phase him. Another thought is the numerous, unanswerable czars of the president’s and the regulatory agencies (think: E.P.A.) that are using their power (with little, if any) oversight and accountability.
6. provide honest government...[with] no rents to favour and position;
How could I not think of the Solyndra mess? Loaning millions of dollars to the business, only to saw it wasted, as the company blew through it, at its (well-known and purposely overlooked) high burn-rate, and where it was later revealed that a big investor was George Kaiser, one of President Obama’s campaign bundlers. As far as no favor to position – how about the benefit of being a Congressional member? Access to a legal way to get in on nearly impossible-to-join IPOs and investments, that normal Americans were held out of?
7. provide moderate, efficient, ungreedy government...to hold taxes down [and] reduce the government's claim on the social surplus
While the cry of the left is “Well, Bush did it too!”, when they defend Obama’s questionable actions, whatever Bush may have done does not hold a candle to the extent of Obama’s odious actions. Obama has expanded the deficit more than any other president in history. How would he and his party seek to pay for their bills? Taxes, of course. Create some new ones, and expand the old ones – simply tax, tax, tax, then they can spend, spend, spend. The administration raided Medicare Advantage funds to help pay for Obamacare (to the tune of $204 billion).
So, if the list contains directions for a well-maintained and least troublesome government, why would the president do anything otherwise? If I were a cynic, I might offer Rahm Emmanuel’s quip, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Create a crisis, and then ride in to save the day. The only problem is that there are far too many crises, and too many unaccountable people, following their own rules, in Washington.
As I sit here, somewhat stuck for a reason to write a post this week, and bemoan the fact our “leaders” in Washington D.C. act so completely inept, I heard an update on the administration’s plan to release an additional $5.5 billion by this time tomorrow, to “green” companies (H/T CNBC). This, despite the previous fiasco with California solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra. The administration continues to spend massive amounts of taxpayer capital as what amounts to venture capital. Of course, as more detail comes out on how the deals and loan rearrangements for Solyndra were handled, it has become apparent that venture capitalists would not have been so careless with funds that were their own. This continued path of carelessness and ineptitude has this blogger wondering – is this administration really that clueless, that they would double down over again on failed policy, not realizing what was happening, all the while building a case for their naysayers to claim there was crony capitalism at play? Or, more frighteningly, the administration does know what is going on, yet does not care?
Examples of Missing Leadership?
Examples of the missing leadership of this administration grow by the day. In my mind, the first failure was failure to seize on the groundswell of the “Green Revolution” in Iran – the president waited and waited. Given the best opportunity the United States has had in some 30 years to press for Iranian regime change, and our president does nothing. The president waited so long to even issue a statement for the Egyptian uprising, that when he did, it amounted to little more than lip service. He refuses to reconsider any of his failed policies, and seems to want to double down on most. He is the poorest example of “out of sight, out of mind” we have ever seen in the Oval Office.
He finally decided to commit NATO aircraft to the Libyan cause after Gaddafi threatened to blow up Tripoli and resist any threat to his despotic regime. While this seems like the president has finally made a tough decision to commit military power where he thought it was needed, in doing so, it resulted in two serious consequences: he broke the War Powers Act, having not gotten Congressional approval for the military action. Another, very serious problem, is that some 20,000 missiles may be missing from Libyan stockpiles. These missiles are the ground-to-air variety, that can be used to bring down passenger aircraft by terrorists, or perhaps even converted for use as IEDs in other theaters.
As a result of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ “Operation Fast & Furious”, one Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was gunned down in Mexico, and a United States Border Agent was gunned down in Arizona. The brilliant idea behind the plan was to arm Mexican drug and gun smugglers, and then somehow track those guns via serial number. As of today, the only actions taken against the implicated parties in the administration have been some resignations, and reshuffling of the same personnel responsible for this plan. When Congress (Darrell Issa) tried to obtain documents to investigate the scandal, they were redacted to the point of appearing like a piece of black construction paper.
Finally, the president continually touted the benefits of green technologies, and how it would build the future, and raise us out of the economic downturn we are in. After being closely connected to the principal private investor of Solyndra, and even holding a press conference at the factory, he has high-tailed it away from ties to the company. Perhaps even more telling, is that he has now chosen a completely different tack, and is touting petroleum and chemical based solutions – that is, paving new roads (with asphalt and tars, of course), and rebuilding bridges (with various weatherproofing chemicals/paints).
With all this occurring, the president now attacks his own base – “Take your slippers off…put your boots on…”, and for their part, they attacked him back (Maxine Waters said she did not know who he was talking to). It seems like the left is bordering on mutiny, and it’s little surprise to me. After all, they have been without a leader of any sort for nearly three years now…