Free Markets, Free People

Friedman (And The Left’s) Continuing Delusion

I get a kick out of Thomas Friedman, because for a guy who travels around as he does and sees what he sees,  he can seem so clueless at times.  So here’s how he sets his article up:

A small news item from Tracy, Calif., caught my eye last week. Local station CBS 13 reported: “Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 911 for a medical emergency. But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year, which allows them to call 911 as many times as necessary. Or there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.”

Welcome to the lean years.

Yes, sir, we’ve just had our 70 fat years in America, thanks to the Greatest Generation and the bounty of freedom and prosperity they built for us. And in these past 70 years, leadership — whether of the country, a university, a company, a state, a charity, or a township — has largely been about giving things away, building things from scratch, lowering taxes or making grants.

But now it feels as if we are entering a new era, “where the great task of government and of leadership is going to be about taking things away from people,” said the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum.

A “new” era where government is going to be about “taking things away from people”? How in the world do you suppose we were able to have the “fat years”. Because government had been taking things away from those able to pay for years. Decades.

Suddenly those they were taking things away from no longer have a job or the income to support all the fat the government built up for so many years. We’re not in the “lean years” – we’re in the PAYGO years. Now, suddenly, the subsidies are drying up because tax revenues are down – way down. Want the services? Pay for them instead of expecting others to do so. And yes, we’re a compassionate country, we can make exceptions for things like 911 service. Provide it free to the elderly and poor. Just make sure “elderly” doesn’t start at 50 and poor is actually poor – i.e no way they could afford a $300 call.

Note that Friedman naturally makes an attempt to equate charity and government when he talks about “giving things away”. Of course it goes without saying that private charity is given voluntarily while government give always come from coerced tax money. Relativity at its finest.

Anyway, Friedman figures that President Obama is missing the boat. As he says “for a politician who speaks so well” he’s mystified why Obama can’t put together a “compelling narrative” from which to explain his politics and polices. The short answer, of course, is that despite the continued belief by the left that the problem lies with the how the message is delivered, in fact the problem is with the message itself. The “narrative” has been heard and examined by the nation and it’s been found wanting – severely wanting. Obama and Friedman could come up with the best narrative in the world and it would still come down to money we can’t afford and more government control/intrusion into our lives that we don’t want.

But let’s hear from Friedman:

Mr. Obama won the election because he was able to “rent” a significant number of independent voters — including Republican business types who had never voted for a Democrat in their lives — because they knew in their guts that the country was on the wrong track and was desperately in need of nation-building at home and that John McCain was not the man to do it.

They thought that Mr. Obama, despite his liberal credentials, had the unique skills, temperament, voice and values to pull the country together for this new Apollo program — not to take us to the moon, but into the 21st century.

Alas, though, instead of making nation-building in America his overarching narrative and then fitting health care, energy, educational reform, infrastructure, competitiveness and deficit reduction under that rubric, the president has pursued each separately. This made each initiative appear to be just some stand-alone liberal obsession to pay off a Democratic constituency — not an essential ingredient of a nation-building strategy — and, therefore, they have proved to be easily obstructed, picked off or delegitimized by opponents and lobbyists.

So “Obamism” feels at worst like a hodgepodge, at best like a to-do list — one that got way too dominated by health care instead of innovation and jobs — and not the least like a big, aspirational project that can bring out America’s still vast potential for greatness.

Friedman begins with a false assumption – the belief that Obama won to do what he’s trying to do now. Instead Obama won because of a general dissatisfaction with the way things were aggravated by two wars. There was a mood to punish the Republicans. Obama was an attractive candidate when compared to old man John McCain. Friedman interpreted the win as a mandate to do the things Friedman and the left have always wanted done. In fact it wasn’t that at all. It was the right man in the right place at the right time with the right nebulous message that others wrote for themselves. And it comes as no surprise then when their premise is put to the test (“this is why America elected Obama”) it comes up snake-eyes. It is the usual delusion we’ve been talking about for years – it is never, ever the message/premise/narrative. It is always about how it is delivered. It’s just not being properly explained, packaged or marketed. If only the right way to present it could be found, the public would go “ah, of course” and all would be right with the world.

Obamism has, in fact, been presented in every way possible and has been rejected each and every time. It is time that Friedman and the left stop the self-delusion and recognize that it isn’t a problem with delivery or packaging, it is a problem with what what they want to do. It’s not what the majority of Americans want to do and the route to a one-term presidency and minority in Congress is to keep believing it has to do with “narrative” and pushing the present Obamism agenda.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

22 Responses to Friedman (And The Left’s) Continuing Delusion

  • The short answer, of course, is that despite the continued belief by the left that the problem lies with the how the message is delivered, in fact the problem is with the message itself.

     
    What was it that Obama said?  “You can put lipstick on a pig, but, its still a pig.”

  • When I read my monthly cell phone bill or landline bill, they include taxes for 911 services. So why does Tracy need to charge additional fees/call? I suspect its not the cost of responding to 911 calls, but that they need to fund the salaries and pensions of first responders that are very high in CA thanks to unionization and politicians.
    This is the real problem that no one wants to face, because cutting firefighters, medics, police, and teachers pay seems so heartless. (Though as all government employees claim, they could leave work and tomorrow have a higher paying private sector job, you know, at all of those private sector firehouses.)

    • This is afterall California.  When Prop 13 passed, they started the cuts with everything that would make people unhappy, in the hopes they would change their minds about Prop 13 and raise property taxes.
      Then again if government can’t provide for the rudimentary security and emergency services, perhaps they should lay them all off.

  • I’m ignoring Friedman.  He’s beneath my notice at this point.

    But this…

    “A small news item from Tracy, Calif., caught my eye last week. Local station CBS 13 reported: “Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 911 for a medical emergency. But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year, which allows them to call 911 as many times as necessary. Or there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.”

    Where do I send flowers to the family of the person(s) who came up with that one? I naturally expect the town to have strung up the idiot by his ballies.

    • It seems pretty absurd.
       
      I would suspect there’s an alternate motive to this.  The most likely is that the city officials are being a bunch of sucks because they’re having trouble increasing taxes.  So instead of cutting manpower, salaries and pensions, they are cutting services.
       
      The other less likely but still possible is to scare off the riff-raff.  Property values in Tracey just went into the toilet for anyone who cares about getting emergency service and earns less than a 6-digit income.  Hell even a low 6-digit income will probably think twice for sure.

    • This isn’t anything new.  I’ve seen it in other cities.
       

  • How about we just pay the politicians when we need one ?

  • So, if my neighbor is having a heart attack and I call for help I get charged $300. Nice.

    • My guess is what Friedman didn’t tell us is if it doesn’t turn out to be a real emergency, you’ll be charged $300. You know, like when you call 911 and complain about the local McDonalds not having any chicken McNuggets (a real 911 call).

      If that’s not the case, then subscribe. $48 bucks and you can call about McNuggets all you wish. Oh, and about your neighbor – use his phone.

      • Heres how you stop the McNugget calls…..you call about McNuggets, the cops work you over with the baton for 20 minutes.

        Who here would object to that?

    • I think your neighbor is agonizing more over having to rely on his cheap ass neighbor to make a phone call if he gets incapacitated.

  • I’m disturbed by this.  You’re paying for police service.  And if you get in a mix up with your neighbor and they call the police first, are they going to be partial to a paying customer?

  • As he says “for a politician who speaks so well” he’s mystified why Obama can’t put together a “compelling narrative” from which to explain his politics and polices.

    I’ve been seeing and hearing the equivalent of this statement  from a lot of people on the left end of the political spectrum lately, and I have to suppress a giggle every time I hear it.

    There’s a word that succinctly states exactly what these folks are trying to say, but they have to tapdance around it because they have poisoned the well so thoroughly where this word is concerned.

    Shorter Friedman:  “But Obama is so articulate, why can’t he persuade anyone?”

    • Besides your astute observation, I also shake my head when I hear this. Exactly what can they point to as evidence of this guy’s communication skills? His campaign? Phaa! When you’ve got a weak opponent, plus every major media organ covering up your bad points, feeding you softball questions, and some of them even making up accusations about your opponents (McCain’s supposed affairs, and every rumor/innuendo they could think up against Palin), then it’s pretty easy to look good by comparison.

      I think a good deal of Obama’s troubles now stem from moderates who are getting the distinct idea that they were snookered. No one likes being conned. They’re not sure whose fault it is, but it’s obvious even to the “rationally ignorant” that this guy is not what they were sold during the campaign.

    • As I mentioned some time ago, Obama isn’t really all that  articulate- he just sounds white. The only thing that makes me doubt that I am correct is that Harry Reid agrees with me.

  • My theory is this: no matter how deluded the Left is, thinking that the election of The Clown™ was some sort of earth-shattering event, they better buckle their seat belts when this November comes: I am telling you that from what I am seeing on the ground, state by state polls, and the political (and economic) atmosphere, the Demmies are due for an electoral landslide not seen in a century. The tides are moving towards 1894 proportion, folks. Read this and see what I mean:
     
    ______________
     

    The U.S. House election of 1894 was a “realigning” election – a major Republican landslide that set the stage for the decisive presidential election of 1896. The election of members of the US House of Representatives in 1894 came in the middle of President Grover Cleveland’s second term: the nation was in its deepest economic depression ever following the Panic of 1893, so economic issues were at the forefront of those matters before the voters. In the spring a major coal strike damaged the economy of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. It was accompanied by violence; the miners lost and many moved voters voiced their support for the Populist Party. No sooner was the coal strike over than Eugene V. Debs, who would later run for President as a Socialist, led a nationwide railroad strike, against the Pullman Company. The labor shutdown impacted the nation’s transportation system west of Detroit for weeks, until President Cleveland’s use of federal troops ended the strike. Debs went to prison (for disobeying a court order). Illinois’ Governor John Peter Altgeld, a Democrat, argued against the use of troops and split with Cleveland.

    In the election, the Democratic Party was crushed everywhere outside the South, losing more than half its seats in the House to the Republican Party: the Democrats lost 125 total seats in the election while the Republicans picked up 130 seats, which included five independents. This makes the 1894 election the largest midterm election victory in the entire history of the United States.

    The main issues revolved around the severe economic depression, which the Republicans blamed on the conservative Bourbon Democrats led by Cleveland. Cleveland supporters lost heavily, weakening their hold on the party and setting the stage for a “Silverite” takeover in 1896. The Populist Party ran candidates in the South and Midwest, but generally lost ground. The Democrats tried to raise a religious issue, claiming the GOP was in cahoots with the American Protective Association. The allegations seem to have fallen flat as Catholics moved toward the GOP. Democrat William Jennings Bryan lost the Senate race in Nebraska, but came back to win the 1896 presidential nomination.

    ___________

    Get it, folks? I see a good 70-80 seats going away for the Demmies, and that is not a fake or a goof. There are Demmies who have 10 terms or more under their belts who are running even or behind Republicans running for the first time. Russ Feingold – Russ Feingold! – is in trouble in Wisconsin; Barbara Boxer is in trouble in California – a new poll shows her 4 points ahead of Carly Fiorina. Four points? Yikes!!!

    In the 1894 elections, the Dems controlled 44 seats, with three Populists (!) and 1 Silverite caucusing with them; the Republicans held, ironically, 40 seats, but in an 88 seat Congress. In the election, the Senate expanded from 88 to 90 seats. The GOP picked up 4 seats, to give them 44, to the Dems’ 40, but four Populists and 2 Silverites who tended to vote Republican were also elected, giving the GOP a pickup of 10 total seats.

    The cause of the landslide to the GOP? A weak Democrat in the White House, an economic downturn (the Panic of 1893), and a Congress seen as not doing their jobs properly.

    Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?

    That is why I say!

  • So, we need to buy help nowadays? That’s foul! We are already paying taxes, aren’t we?

  • NeoThen again if government can’t provide for the rudimentary security and emergency services, perhaps they should lay them all off.

    Exactly.  As our Founding Fathers clearly understood and stated so articulately*:

    … to secure these rights [to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    Now, I’m not saying that it’s time to go all 1776 on the government, but I DO say that people need to consider what their elected officials are REALLY (not) doing and throw the bums out if they can’t do a simple thing like run a 9-11 service.  I mean, I’m just so gosh-darned glad to know that my tax dollars go to fund a city horse and buggy museum, a fancy new office for the mayor, and a 5% annual salary raise for all the city employees, but if the cops or the firemen show up with a bill after all the damned taxes I’ve already paid, I’m going to be a little bit miffed.

    —–

    (*) H/T Terry.

  • I was under the impression that polling in the early part of 2008 had the presidential race very close or in favor of McCain.  But in the summer and early fall, as the consequences of the economic collapse began to worsen dramatically, momentum shifted to Obama.  Which is how it normally goes.  The party that is at the helm when things go badly is the party that suffers the penalty.  That should’ve been a clear sign to Obama that the economy had to be his first priority, and it wasn’t.  His party is the party at the helm now, and the momentum they gained from the problems we are having is gone because after more than a year, the problems have gotten worse.
     
    His desire to hold off on dealing with the economy by passing blame to others for as long as possible has hurt him.  He took too long to take ownership of the problem and give people the confidence that he would do what was necessary to get us back on the right track.  The momentum is gone, and the bandwagon is beginning to slide backwards down the hill.  The Friedmans and Krugmans of the world are furiously flapping their arms in the hopes of reversing the trend, but it’s not enough.

  • That "strongly disapprove" rating of President Obama’s ought to be a clue, but Friedman seems to be oblivious to them.   Learning the hard way isn’t mandatory, but the lessons of history will be taught until they are learned.