Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Janet Daley of London’s Telegraph sees Barack Obama similarly emulating the train wreck in progress that is the European Union (British spelling included):
What was it everybody used to say about the United States? Look at what’s happening over there and you will see our future. …
Well, so much for that. Barack Obama is now putting the United States squarely a decade behind Britain. Listening to the President’s State of the Union message last week was like a surreal visit to our own recent past: there were, almost word for word, all those interminable Gordon Brown Budgets that preached “fairness” while listing endless new ways in which central government would intervene in every form of economic activity.
Later, in a television interview, Mr Obama described his programme of using higher taxes on the wealthy to bankroll new government spending as “a recipe for a fair, sound approach to deficit reduction and rebuilding this country”. To which we who come from the future can only shout, “No‑o-o, go back! Don’t come down this road!”
As we try desperately to extricate ourselves from the consequences of that philosophy, which sounds so eminently reasonable (“giving everybody a fair share”, the President called it), we could tell America a thing or two – if it would only listen. Human beings are so much more complicated than this childlike conception of fairness assumes. When government takes away an ever larger proportion of the wealth which entrepreneurial activity creates and attempts to distribute it “fairly” (that is to say, evenly) throughout society in the form of welfare programmes and public spending projects, the effects are much, much more complex and perverse than a simple financial equation would suggest.
The assumption that all the wealth that individuals create belongs, by moral right, to the state, to spend on benefits or phoney job creation schemes (sorry, public infrastructure projects), is proving phenomenally difficult to expunge in Britain, so ineradicably has it embedded itself in the public consciousness.
In the US, it has had only odd historical moments of favour (Roosevelt’s New Deal, Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”), which have been beaten back consistently by the dynamism of a country that sees its existential purpose as being to foster and promote individual achievement and self-belief. It is bizarre that Obama should be regarded (or should regard himself) as a kind-of European who is trying to bring a sophisticated kind-of socialism to American economic life, complete with government-run health care and “fair” (high) taxes on the wealthy. If his European credentials were up to date, he would know that this was precisely the social model that is causing the EU to implode, and whose hopeless contradictions the best economic minds on the Continent are attempting, unsuccessfully, to resolve. …
What is needed here and in the US are tax cuts for the many, not the few, to adapt Mr Brown, and less demonising of the sorts of people who are able to invest and create the real wealth that will be our only chance for economic salvation.
Obama is clearly living the Left-liberal dream, which still survives in small pockets of American life. He wants to import the democratic socialism that Europe embraced after the war, which was, for European cultural reasons, imbued with aristocratic paternalism and Marxist notions of bourgeois guilt. But neither of these things are part of the American historical experience. The Left-wing intellectuals, including Obama himself, who adopt this language are talking dangerously uninformed rubbish: if democratic socialism was ever a solution to Europe’s problems (and the present crisis is making that seem less and less likely), it is certainly not an answer to any question that Americans are likely to ask.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D–Madison), Wisconsin’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, continues to not admit that she is a member of Democratic Socialists for America. When I brought that up on my last Wisconsin Public Radio appearance, my opponent, head of the Price County Democratic Party, suggested that we selfish, backward Americans need to learn from the enlightened European socialists. (I refrained from suggesting that he move to Europe if he thinks Eurosocialism is so superior.)
The problem with socialism is not merely that, as Margaret Thatcher noted, socialists eventually run out of other people’s money. Socialism’s outshoots from Karl Marx became Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism (20 million dead, including 400,000 Americans who died during World War II), the Soviet Union (60 million dead between 1917 and 1983), China (76 million dead between 1949 and 1987), Vietnam (50,000 U.S. dead during the Vietnam War) and Cambodia (2 million dead after the war).
Mature people learn from others’ mistakes. What does that say about Obama?