City Journal Spring 2014

Current Issue:

Spring 2014
Table of Contents
Subscribe
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Michael Knox Beran
Obama’s Doom and Gloom « Back to Story

View Comments (10)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.


 
Showing 10 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
I appreciate your perspective, especially after experiencing a massive brain disfunction that has reduced my intellectual capacity by 65%. I am now a member of the GOP, have virtually no use for facts, and delight in advancing an agenda of doom and gloom.
Another long and well-written essay on why Obama isn’t the man for the job. Unfortunate we didn’t take that position 4 years ago and have subsequently spared ourselves, and our descendants, a king’s ransom in debt interest and principal. But that’s the American electorate in our perennially “Happy Place”, irrational and proud of it. Frustration with the previous “temp” drove us to interview and hire a temporary employee as Chief Executive who had no prior experience to recommend him or any aptitude whatsoever for doing the job. We knew that at the time but Hope and Change easily overrode commonsense. We gave him four years, he bungled every opportunity to succeed but we stubbornly hold him completely at fault and conveniently forgive ourselves for outright cupidity and poor judgment. We’re not just irrational voters, we’re gloriously irrational and perhaps the intricacies of self-government are not for us.

But appealing to Malthus and Adam Smith for enlightenment is futile, we should be turning to actual economic experts like Freud and Jung. And for our politicians and their many offspring among the government bureaucracy, Alfred Adler’s psychological theories apply, both in whole and in part. The human psyche consistently rejects any form of rational economic theory for a standard grab bag of unexplainable whims, misplaced compassion, greed, jealousy and self-interest – changing our minds frequently in regard to all recommended courses of prudent action and based on whatever chemical or electrical impulses currently control us.

Take the silly fiction of “market forces” for example. The poor aren’t at the mercy of market forces, rather they’re exempt from such forces and for no reasons any economic theory can adequately explain, regardless of which “school” professes the concepts. The poor pay less taxes than us or no taxes whatsoever, yet they receive as much or more in government goods and services than the rest of us. Rescue workers don’t first check the tax returns of hurricane victims - in point of fact, non-taxpayers are more likely to receive first priority in dispensing aid. And the same principle applies to less immediate and dramatic forms of free services. How do “market forces” explain this ongoing contradiction?

As for Malthus’ reported dictum : “Man’s passion to propagate will always leave the poorest people at the edge of subsistence” - such wisdom would certainly apply today if you consider a 32” plasma television and $125 high tops the edge of subsistence. The poor exert a powerful hold over us Americans which no economic theory can begin to explain. Professional advocates for the poor and the well compensated overseers of wealth re-distribution schemes are the true masters at controlling what we mistakenly call market forces.

We were irrational when we elected Obama to the job. Why can’t we be just as irrational in denying him a second term and leave it at that?
I couldn't agree more.

Oddly enough, despite not being an Obama supporter, at the beginning of his Administration I had sincerely wished that something of his message was genuine, that he really meant to change government, that maybe Obama was the right man at the right time, and his could be a storybook Presidency. However, over the first few months, like many Americans I was stunned, not by Obama's activism, but by his overall lack of interest. Obama never seems to get involved in governing, he never even got to the level of being a cheerleader for what other people were doing. The signature bills of his Administration - Obamacare, Dodd Frank, the stimulus, were all drafted by others - his role was to sign laws that someone else did the hard work to produce.

Obama just never seemed to have much of a presence. And what he attempted to do, he did poorly. His foreign policy - what could be called a policy, never went much beyond apologizing for the prior Administration. His bowing before foreign dictators was repulsive. His blaming of the prior Administration for his own failures on the economy showed poor character at best, and at worst, a penchant for meanness that always seemed to be below the surface.

Obama's Administration was only about politics. But his ineffectual - or non-existent - leadership meant that he wasn't able to accomplish much even on issues that Democrats support. In that respect, Obama's incompetence is a blessing. With 60 votes in the Senate and a majority in the House, Obama could have done far more - at a minimum he could have made Roe v. Wade superfluous, by enacting federal statutory protections for abortion. Likewise for comprehensive immigration reform - it was Obama's for the taking, but he didn't press it.

Of course, a more cynical view is that the Democrats didn't want abortion and immigration to disappear from the national stage, so that they could pummel Republicans. However, what we have seen is that Obama doesn't have the intelligence capability to engage in that kind of strategic planning. The simple answer is that Obama couldn't be bothered.

For the country as a whole Obama's ineptitude is thus a mixed blessing.

And through it all, over the last four years, Americans never really got to know Obama. As mentioned, he seems disinterested, and never makes a move unless he absolutely has to. Prior to Obama the terms, "empty suit" and "man in a bubble" never really made sense. However, both terms perfectly picture the man.

The real mystery with Obama is why he is even running for a second term. He certainly doesn't appear to want the job. But why should he, since he is so very bad at it. And without the protections of a media that has shown itself to be completely incapable of telling the truth about a Democratic President, Obama would be among the most hated men in America. He certainly wouldn't be running neck and neck with his challenger.

In the final analysis, none of those who are voting for Obama are able to make the case that he deserves to be re-elected. Most of what we see from the pro-Obama people are tired cliche's about Republicans, and talking points about Romney. When pressed on it, Democrats really can't articulate anything positive about Obama, other than he isn't a Republican, and he isn't Romney. When asked about Romney, what is said is that someone as wealthy as Romney could never made a good President. When pointed out that Democrats in 2004 ran John Kerry, a man who married into enormous wealth, what you get is a blank stare, as if they have forgotten all about Kerry.

On the other hand, Romney has been surprisingly good, and has laid out lots of reasons why he would make a good capable president. But, this comment is about Obama so no need to get into that.

A comment on a blog never changes anyone's mind. But, anyone planning to vote for Obama to take a long hard look at what they are voting for. On the other hand, if all the evidence of the past four years aren't convincing enough, then no amount of reasoning will make a bit of difference.
This article is utter garbage
The fact is that Malthus and Smith are both right.

Technology and capitalism have indeed resulted in a massive increase in standard of living. On the other hand, if the human population goes on growing we will sooner or later face disaster: as Darwin said, if something does not limit population before then, "the world would not hold them."

David Attenborough suggested that at current consumption levels a sustainable world population is around one quarter of its present level: if we intend (as we should) to enable everyone to live as the prosperous west now does, the figure is one tenth. If we go on as we are doing, war, famine, disease and catastrophe are certain.


We can in principle have the best of both worlds: if we (a) limit population and (b) profit from a technological and capitalist system, it should be possible to stabilise the human standard of living at a sustainable and comfortable level.

I see no evidence that any government, anywhere in the world, has faced up to the facts. Even if I had the choice (at my age I do not) I should not want to be alive in 2050.
The fact is that Malthus and Smith are both right.

Technology and capitalism have indeed resulted in a massive increase in standard of living. On the other hand, if the human population goes on growing we will sooner or later fce disaster: as Darwin said, if something does not limit population before then, "the world would not hold them."

David Attenborough suggested that at current consumption levels a sustainable world population is around one quarter of its present level: if we intend (as we should) to enable everyone to live as the prosperous west now does, the figure is one tenth. If we go on as we are doing, war, famine, disease and catastrophe are certain.


We can in principle have the best of both worlds: if we (a) limit population and (b)profit from a technological and capitalist system, it should be possible to stabilise the human standard of living at a sustainable and comfortable level.

I see no evidence that any government, anywhere in the world, has faced up to the facts. Even if I had the choice (at my age I do not) I should not want to be alive in 2050.
I read two paragraphs of this. When I came to the stuff about Obama's view of Medicare reflecting his view of private enterprise I stopped. The fact is, for reasons very specific to the health insurance industry, Medicare does have lower administrative costs than private health insurance. To recognize specific areas where market failure means that government intervention is necessary is not to condemn markets at all.

The difference between you and Obama, it appears, is that you are an ideologue who demand genuflection before the idol of the market and he is a pragmatist who is willing to use markets or government (or, in the case of the ACA, government regulation and subsidy of markets) depending on the circumstances.

If you get this so wrong, I've got no confidence you will get anything else right and thus no reason to read the rest of this piece.
The President's pessimism derives from anger issues stemming from his childhood. The American people need to learn that they cannot elect people with unresolved childhood issues. Too, despite the schools which gave him degrees I suspect there is not too much going on with him intellectually. Instead of having inspiring positive leadership driven by facts at the apex of the pyramid it appears that he is allowing policy to be dictated by the broad base. This is not a worthwhile proposition. I would respect him more if he dictated that the bottom must be sterilized en masse. Birth control and abortions is playing with the problem The issue is morals. Hence we are back to positivism.
To summarize the theme of the article, and what I've observed for nearly four years ~

If President Obama ever had an original idea, it would die of loneliness.
Stellar observation and presentation!