“The intellectual’s struggle to deny the obvious is never more desperate than when reality is unpleasant and at variance with his preconceptions and when full acknowledgement of it would undermine the foundations of his intellectual worldview.”
— Theodore Dalrymple
“The curse of the intelligentsia is their ability to rationalize and re-define. Ordinary people, lacking that gift, are forced to face reality.”
— Thomas Sowell
From Victor Davis Hanson:
Obama Versus the Way of the Universe
I wish the President well, but he is butting up against human nature. And that is a fight one cannot win. If one runs up nearly a $2 trillion annual deficit, and then persists in such red-ink to the point of adding another $9 trillion, all to reach an aggregate $20 trillion national debt, there are not too many options. If there were, everyone–both states and individuals–would simply spend, call it stimuli, and then find academics to offer contorted explanations why it was OK and the money need not really have to be paid back. Does Obama think his debt is like buying a house in a down market with an up market inevitable?–that is, we borrow to the max and then count on our equity to come to bail us out? But houses do not always go up, and we can’t quite sell off the US to capture our speculative profit.
So we all know the old rules, because the universe works according to time-honored precepts: we either must tax all of us (there are not enough of those evil “they” who make between $200-500K or even enough of the noble generous rich who make over $10 million a year and think Obama should increase inheritance taxes so that their children get only $1 billion instead of $2, while the hardware store owner’s kids sell the business) in insidious ways; OR simply cut government expenditures elsewhere to pay the annual interest payments, OR print money and screw the Chinese, European, etc. , debtors, inflating our way out via the late 1970s.
Sorry, there are no other real alternatives.
The only mystery? How the choice of payment is rhetoricized in the hope and change mode.
Deficit Foreign Policy Too
So it is with foreign policy as well. Obama’s make-over will have positive short-term effects, as he reminds the world ad nauseam that he is black, sorta, kinda from a Muslim family, and the son of an African who is more like the world than he like most Americans-and not George Bush and not a thieving capitalist and not a warmongering imperialist and not (fill in the blanks). (My favorite Cairo line was the apology on Gitmo where inmates have laptops and Mediterranean food, spoken to millions whose societies kill and maim tens of thousands in Gulags on a yearly basis.)
But in the long run?
He hits against human nature. Most of you readers–in business, law, the professions–don’t continually praise your friends, competitors, and enemies (e.g., “Glad you got that job, Home Depot-we at Lowes didn’t really need it; what a wonderful bid you submitted, Hilton, much better than ours here at the Four Seasons; it was my fault here at Goldman Sachs that I didn’t match your better offer at Credit Suisse; I grew up working for the Royals, and can empathize why you Yankees don’t like us; it’s time we at Citibank apologized to Chase for our past cutthroat competition; we are just too arrogant over here at Delta and wanted to let you guys at United know that.”)
The world sadly does not work that way. If one were to do that, we know the outcome: a group of rival execs would say “Hmmm, time to steal market share from Citibank, or Hilton isn’t really up to the arena anymore, let’s move in on its Western region, etc.”
Only someone who has not been in the real world, but only marketed rhetoric without consequences (e.g., if Obama had a bad day organizing, or legislating, was he fired?) could believe such things.
Read the entire essay here