Free Markets, Free People

Robert Reich


Liberals Still Don’t Get It

Robert Reich has to be the poster boy for why liberals are only about 20% of our population. If it weren’t for the quiet backwaters of academia where, apparently they’re pretty much left alone to survive and breed, they wouldn’t have much of a chance of making it anywhere else.

Here’s his latest riff:

What we learned in August is something we’ve long known but keep forgetting: The most important difference between America’s Democratic left and Republican right is that the left has ideas and the right has discipline. Obama and progressive supporters of health care were outmaneuvered in August — not because the right had any better idea for solving the health care mess but because the rights’ attack on the Democrats’ idea was far more disciplined than was the Democrats’ ability to sell it.

A) my 5 year old grandson has ideas. But when they involve matches and curtains, we have a tendency to step in and prevent him from bringing his ideas to fruition. Call that “discipline” if you wish, but just because a group has ideas doesn’t mean they’re worth 2 cents. And in the case of health care insurance reform, they’re worth a negative 1.5 trillion dollars we can’t afford and would put government intrusion and control and new and unprecedented levels.

B) as usual you see a liberal who believes that the message isnt the problem, but the obfuscation of the right that prevented the message from being properly received. Really? It appeared that the audiences of the townhall meetings attacking the plan had actually read more of the proposed legislation than those on stage trying to defend it. They knew what the “message” was and rejected it.

C) and most important – this isn’t just about health care. This is about TARP, porkulus, “stimulus”, GM, the financial system, cap-and-trade and 9 trillion dollar deficits. Those are all ideas that have been proposed or passed by this Congress or administration. The “idea” that has traction is that these are all bad ‘ideas’. However, the left seems not to understand that point and we continue to hear tone-deaf analysis such as Reich’s contending that they only need to sharpen up their “message” a bit and impose a little discipline and all will be well.

Reich then gets into bit of classic cognitive dissonance and projection:

You want to know why the left has ideas and the right has discipline? Because people who like ideas and dislike authority tend to identify with the Democratic left, while people who feel threatened by new ideas and more comfortable in a disciplined and ordered world tend to identify with the Republican right. Democrats and progressives let a thousand flowers bloom. Republicans and the right issue directives. This has been the yin and yang of American politics and culture. But it means that the Democratic left’s new ideas often fall victim to its own notorious lack of organization and to the right’s highly-organized fear mongering.

How can you not laugh outloud at someone who will claim, in the shadow of the biggest attempted takeover of the private sector by government since WWII that those who “dislike authority tend to identify with the Democratic left”.

Given OFA and the unions and the predominant collectivist mentality of the left, that’s laughable on its face.

Also lost in Mr. Reich’s fantasy analysis is the fact that the idea laden left is losing independent support at a rate unseen in decades. It isn’t just the right rejecting these “ideas”, it is the center and even center left.

All of this leaves Reich to conclude:

August is coming to a close, and congressional recess is about over. History is not destiny, and Democrats and progressives can yet enact meaningful health care reform — with a public option. But to do so, we’ll need to be far more disciplined about it. All of us, from Obama on down.

This is what you end up with when you start from a false premise. Believing that all you have to do is impose a little discipline (to those authority hating but collectivist lefties) and sharpen your messaging, and your ideas about how to burn the house down will be accepted with open arms.

Amazing.

~McQ


Robert Reich’s “Democracy”

Robert Reich writes what I can only characterize as a whining rant which is so, oh I don’t know, odd, that I have to comment. It has to do with a supposed deal the White House has struck with “big Pharma” which Reich claims keeps the government from negotiating lower drug prices in return for 80 billion in cost savings (if the government has wrung 80 bil in cost savings, isn’t that a negotiation for lower cost that has already been accomplished?):

I want universal health insurance. And having had a front-row seat in 1994 when Big Pharma and the rest of the health-industry complex went to battle against it, I can tell you firsthand how big and effective the onslaught can be. So I appreciate Big Pharma’s support this time around, and I like it that the industry is doing the reverse of what it did last time, and airing ads to persuade the public of the rightness of the White House’s effort.

But I also care about democracy, and the deal between Big Pharma and the White House frankly worries me. It’s bad enough when industry lobbyists extract concessions from members of Congress, which happens all the time. But when an industry gets secret concessions out of the White House in return for a promise to lend the industry’s support to a key piece of legislation, we’re in big trouble. That’s called extortion: An industry is using its capacity to threaten or prevent legislation as a means of altering that legislation for its own benefit. And it’s doing so at the highest reaches of our government, in the office of the president.

Notice first that the word “market” never appears in his diatribe.  In fact, “market” doesn’t appear in his piece at all.  That’s because Reich doesn’t care about markets. And, of course, any market that exists in health care has been so distorted by government that it hardly qualifies for the term.

Reich cares about control. And he wants full control by government. Notice that when politicians use threats to prevent legislation’s passage if what they want isn’t included in (or taken out of) a bill, that’s called “compromise”, but when an interested constituent (and pharma as a business that is government regulated certainly qualifies as that) promises to work against pending legislation that wouldn’t be in their best interest unless they get concessions, that’s “extortion”.

Reich only wants the government to have the power to extort what it wants and it makes him mad when constituents use their power to push their interests. He claims that thwarts “democracy”. Really?

As I see it, it is exactly the brand of democracy the Democrats have practiced for eons – special interest democracy. The only reason Reich is a little irritated in this case is because the special interest in question isn’t one which the left favors. Democracy, in Reich’s world, is when favored special interests “extort” petition the government, make deals and get legislation passed which serves their interests.

All that said, I agree with one point – what in the world is the White House doing striking such deals? Since it can’t write the legislation, how does it guarantee whatever concessions it’s agreed to will show up in the final legislation? And what happens if it doesn’t make it into the final legislation after big Pharma spends more money than John McCain did during the presidential election for TV adds supporting Obamacare?

~McQ


Reaping, Sowing, etc.

Glad they finally noticed:

The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White House and could complicate President Obama’s agenda.

Of course the greatest stoker of this populist backlash has been the Obama administration. I’ll be the first to agree that some of the financial institutions, such as AIG recently, have played into the populist condemnation by the administration, but instead of being specific about the AIGs of the world, they have instead gone after an entire industry to the point that “banks and Wall Street” are synonymous with crooks, swindlers and liars. Having established that narrative, seemingly purposely, there’s now a huge backlash building which may, in fact, cripple the administration’s efforts pertaining to both.

“We’ve got enormous problems that need to be addressed,” David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, said in an interview. “And it’s hard to address because there’s a lot of anger about the irresponsibility that led us to this point.”

“This has been welling up for a long time,” he said.

Mr. Obama’s aides said any surge of such a sentiment could complicate efforts to win Congressional approval for the additional bailout packages that Mr. Obama has signaled will be necessary to stabilize the banking system.

As it is, there have already been moves in Congress to limit compensation to executives at banks and Wall Street firms that are receiving government help to survive.

Beyond that, a shifting political mood challenges Mr. Obama’s political skills, as he seeks to acknowledge the anger without becoming a target of it. A central question for Mr. Obama is whether his cool style — “in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger,” he said in his address to Congress last month — will prove effective when the country may be feeling more emotional.

And the country is feeling emotional because the administration has been making emotional arguments targeting the industry it wants to help. Not very smart politics. And they’ve now finally realized that.

“Never underestimate the capacity of angry populism in times of economic stress,” said Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. “A big challenge for President Obama will be to maintain a rational and tactical public discussion in the midst of this severe downturn. The desire for culprits at times like this is strong.”

The “culprit” has been identified. In their desire to escape blame, government officials in Congress and elsewhere have almost unanimously used their access to the media to vilify banks and Wall Street while pretending they had no hand whatsoever in this debacle. Unfortunately they’ve been quite successful in the scapegoating. However, having established the narrative, they now have to attempt to reverse it because the public rage they’ve helped stoke may prevent them from doing what they think they need to do to turn the financial industry around.

The entire problem that the administration is now recognizing is one of their own making and another indication of their inexperience and lack of foresight. It’s one thing to demonize such industries when campaigning, it is, as they’re learning, an entirely different thing when you do it as the President of the United States. The administration now has to figure out how to reverse a narrative they helped build and establish. That should be interesting to watch.

~McQ