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Reflections In A Cup: March/April 2009

Win The Battle, Lose The War


April 30, 2009
By Stuart Daw

There are a few variations on the lines written by George Santayana
who, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

There are a few variations on the lines written by George Santayana who, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

But the basic concept is the same, and stands out almost in comic relief today as we see the youngish, hapless new president of the U.S., lead his people down “a road much traveled” in the past, and always leading to disaster. Is he ignoring history, or does he have a hidden agenda?

Some Republicans, trying to act like conservatives, have resisted Obama’s action in this, but have not presented to the public the important moral and economic case for individual liberty and freedom as opposed to collectivism and egalitarianism, managing merely to sound like petulant schoolboys. Besides, the Democrats hold an unbeatable majority in Congress that can’t even be filibustered in the Senate due to their over 60 members there.

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Canadians cannot ignore what is happening. The United States is too important to Canada to have us wish for anything other than their prosperity, free trade with them, and stable rates of monetary exchange. Our only protection is the reasoning of competent economists in and out of government in the U.S., who may stay his hand in this hell-bent rush to socialize America and destroy its economy.

They seem to have temporarily succeeded in the case of NAFTA. Long before his election he had the “audacity,” not of hope, but of foolishness in announcing he would review NAFTA after having called it “devastating,” and a “big mistake.” Cooler heads seem to be prevailing, at least for now.

It was ironic that while he was running his presidential campaign on the idea of “hope,” many irresponsible people were indeed hoping for the good life, cashing in on the supposed increased value of their homes by mortgaging them to the hilt, only to be left hanging there when those values proved to be false illusions. And erstwhile wise men heading many once-conservative American financial institutions, not to be left behind in generating high profits (on paper), went along with the charade.

But to me, the most amazing aspect of that campaign was the naiveté of the voters who seemed to ignore the simple rule that a man’s past can be used as a measure of his likely future behaviour. On his senatorial voting record, Obama was the second most leftist member.

One of his friends and colleagues, William Charles Ayers, in 1969 co-founded the violent radical left organization, the Weather Underground, which conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings during the 1960s and 1970s. He is now a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar. To this one might rightly say “Ya gotta be kiddin me!”

Then there is another of his friends, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright was more than just a friend; he was an admitted mentor to Obama who sat in his congregation for 20 years. He married Obama and his wife Michelle, baptized their children, and was perhaps most famous (or infamous) for his punch line, “God damn, America.”
 
Then we have the association between Obama and Chicago slum landlord Tony Rezko from whom he got a sweet real estate deal involving an expensive home in Chicago.

Obama’s working career was essentially that of “community organizer” in the south side of Chicago. It might not have dawned on anyone to note that the word “community” bears a resemblance to “communist” except for the last two letters of both words. But now we see it in his program for allegedly trying to avoid a total financial meltdown through the violent intrusion of government into the economy of the country, à la the discredited old Soviet Union and communist China.

But maybe there is hope in what one commentator has said: “The one consolation we can take from the financial crisis is that Obama may be too busy with the Old Left program of central planning and public-works giantism to focus on the New Left agenda of anti-industrialism.” (i.e. the total destruction of industrial society.)

Sucking out the wealth created by the producers, “America’s Most Persecuted Minority” (Ayn Rand, in Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal) to distribute among the non-producers is his avowed goal. And rhetorical smoothie that he is, he has been able to convince the gullible that the poor will receive a tax rebate when in reality they are paying no income taxes at all. What can we say about a man who campaigns on a platform of no more earmarks, and continues to say it even during the very process of spending hundreds of billions in legislation containing thousands of such earmarks for the home folks? Unfortunately many parsimonious Republicans on this issue happen to be guilty of some 40 per cent of those earmarks.

Obama promises to keep his vow to clear the troops out of Iraq, while saying in the same breath that he will maintain 50,000 troops there, calling it maintenance. So, not wanting to call him a barefaced liar on some issue, how about softer terms such as Churchill’s “he is guilty of telling a terminological inexactitude,” or my own father’s “he doesn’t lie, but he does treat the truth rather carelessly.”
All kidding aside, this stuff going on in the U.S. bodes ill for Canada. October 2008 represents a bad financial date for Canada and many other nations hit by a drastic drop in the value of their currencies.
Will Canada follow Obama’s lead by increasing taxes rater than cutting them?

The objection to the infusion of large amounts of cash into the economy seems to be essentially twofold – it’s going to be too slow to have the hoped-for immediate effect, and it will be wildly inflationary over time, with governments monetizing their debt as usual by the continued flooding of the economy with more money. What will Canada do?

Cutting taxes would have the immediate effect of leaving money in the productive hands of Canadian corporations to invest in growth, thereby creating more employment. There is always this correlation between increased investment, higher employment and public well-being.

Alas, we already see dangerous signs in vending and coffee service of the opposite happening, with threats of increased taxes on soda and other beverages. Cap and Trade legislation, along with other environmentalist-fomented actions are likely to do damage to Canadian industry. Hopefully our trade associations can make themselves heard amid the din for more government control of our lives and our businesses.

It is well to remember that we do not now, nor have we ever, lived in a capitalist society. It has been and remains a mixture of capitalism and socialism, an unstable mixture that can trend either way.  Let us hope that our leaders refer to the lessons of history, and take note of, and give credit to the fountainhead of our prosperity, the capitalist, free market.


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