Yearnings for a wiser ruler
May 05, 2015

I Want a President That "Gets" the Economy

by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

Oh well, another day, another dollar, as the Obama economy continues to disappoint with a 0.2 percent growth rate for GDP in the first quarter for 2015.

I’m sure that President Obama and his administration are just as frustrated as you and me. But the truth is that liberals like Barack Obama just don’t “get” the modern exchange economy. You could see this in their response to the Crash of 2008. Step One: Press the Keynesian “stimulus” button. Step Two: Back to the important stuff: health care, blaming Bush and greedy bankers, and green energy.

It’s understandable. Politicians deal in power; so time spent in tending to the economy, to them, is time taken from the all-important power project. But politicians that think this way are deluded, because the power of the modern national politician is grounded in the health of the national economy. If a politician want to strut upon the world stage, first of all he needs a world-class national economy.

According to Michael Mann in The Sources of Social Power the national economy became really important around the time of Britain’s Henry VIII. The problem was the the expense of the standing army that a king needed to fend off rival powers. A monarch could no longer pay for his army out of his royal estates; he needed more money, lots more money.

Fortunately help was at hand. The big-time merchants, beginning to spread their wings in international trade, wanted the protection that a strong state could provide for their ships and cargoes. They agreed to be taxed to support the standing-army state and they also showed the monarch how their credit could finance his all-important foreign wars.

I just finished season one of The Tudors, and the non-stop sex doesn’t leave much time for the Tudor economy. Perhaps it’s all covered in Wolf Hall. But I doubt it.

Ever since the 16th century, politics and economics have been joined at the hip. If a king or president got the economy right he could go for world domination. If he got it wrong, then his dynasty or his party would get flushed down the toilet.

The British and the French staged a test of this in the Second Hundred Years War of the 18th century. The Brits founded their credit system on the Bank of England, run by London merchants, and won a world empire while cranking their national debt from nothing to 250% of GDP by 1815. The French went through multiple bankruptcies, culminating in the Revolution of 1789 and the epic defeat of 1815.

Since the battle of Waterloo France has never been the same.

What was the British secret? They got the economy right, and never wrecked it to fund their imperial expansion.

But our time is different, because today war doesn’t solve anything, and we spend money on useful social programs at home, right? Wrong!

We moderns are in a more difficult situation because, since World War II, we use taxes not to reduce the national debt but to fund social programs in general and middle-class entitlements in particular.

This was OK, they said, because Keynesian economics provided the tools politicians needed to “fine-tune” the economy and also pay for the social programs and entitlements. Politicians could forget about the economy and concentrate on ginning up new social programs.

Only the economic experts were just telling the politicians what they wanted to hear: tax, spend, and borrow, especially during recessions. It messed up the economy in the 1970s, and again in the 2010s.

This isn’t rocket science. Every politician should know in his heart that every spending program and every subsidy and every regulation damages the economy. Any politician that doesn’t “get” that is deluding himself.

Any politician that doesn’t “get” the economy is setting up his party for a trip to the political wilderness. Because when the economy doesn’t work, the voters get to thinking that it’s time for a change.

But we read, from John C. Goodman, that the Democrats are unconcerned about the economy and reform. He reckons that the Dems are committed to the following agenda for 2016:

  • Support for maintaining all major entitlement programs and resistance to any major reform.
  • Support for maintaining high taxes on high-income Americans.
  • Keeping the current financial reform regulations.
  • More action on global warming.

For Democrats, and Democratic voters, the economy can look after itself.

Meanwhile, the focus groups are telling the politicians that they should pivot to the economy. That’s what catchphrases like “growing the economy from the middle out” are all about.

But I don’t want politicians fobbing me off with yet another catchphrase. I want a president who really “gets” the importance of the economy.

January 03, 2017

I Want a President Who Loves America: Pre-Inaugural Edition

Two years ago in this space I wrote that “I Want a President Who Loves America.” I started out by telling how I fell in love with America 51 years ago on my first trip to the US over Christmas 1965.  MORE...

December 06, 2016

I Want a President Who Tells Us His Sense of the World

Why is the US in Syria? Why is the US in Yemen? What was the point of dumping Khadafi in Libya? Do you have a clue what is going on? I don’t have a clue about any of that either.  MORE...

November 01, 2016

I Want a President that Loves America, Part Trois

Back in January of 2015 I wrote my first piece in the “I Want a President” series and the title was simply “I Want a President Who Loves America.” I wrote simply about my love for America and how, in the Obama years, I longed for a president that loved America like I did. And now I see that an African American, “Gloria,” agrees with me.  MORE...

October 04, 2016

I Want a President Who Will End Victimism

Great news! The Obama administration is proposing a new race category. It’s for people of Middle Eastern and North African descent — MENA for those in the know. Why? It’s obvious when you go to USA Today and read the blather about how the new race category could solve all kinds of problems with community identity and private-sector discrimination. In other words, liberals are going full-speed ahead to square up Muslims as another victim group for their victim politics.  MORE...

September 06, 2016

I Want a President to Lift Government Off the Brow of Labor

Back in the 19th century William Jennings Bryan spoke for working men everywhere when he declared:  MORE...

August 02, 2016

I Want a President That Won’t Stiff the Opposition

So Hillary Clinton has been nominated as the candidate for President of the United States, the first woman ever so nominated by a major party.  MORE...

July 05, 2016

I Want a President Born on the Fourth of July. Really

Eighteen months ago I started this I Want a President series with “I Want a President Who Loves America.” I wrote of my love for America and how I’d like a president that loved America as much as I did.  MORE...

June 07, 2016

I Want a President Who Can Tame America’s Lefty Rioters

There they go again. In San Jose last week, lefty demonstrators rioted against typical Americans leaving a Donald Trump rally, and the mayor of San Jose blamed Donald Trump for the violence. In the 21st century, in a democratic republic where “the people rule,” what is going on?  MORE...

May 03, 2016

I Want a President Who Can Teach Us to Accept Capitalism

In last week’s foreign policy speech Donald Trump had this to say about jobs:  MORE...

April 05, 2016

I Want a President to Teach Liberals a Lesson

The eternal frustration of every conservative is the way the public square is skewed in favor of liberals. “Right-wing extremism” is said to be a problem, but left-wing street riots are nothing but “peaceful protest.” We are to understand that anything less than a flat-out denunciation of loser David Duke and the pathetic remnants of the Ku Klux Klan is disqualifying while the accomplished racist agitator, Reverend Al Sharpton, gets White House invitations and fawning profiles in Vanity Fair.  MORE...

March 01, 2016

I Want a President Who is My Kind of Con-man

Many conservative pundits and principled Republicans are recoiling from Donald Trump on the grounds that he is a con-man, a confidence trickster. To which my retort is: So?  MORE...

February 02, 2016

I Want a President for Americans that Follow the Rules, Go to Work, and Obey the Law

It’s true! The pundits have just discovered that Republicans and Democrats really are different, after all. First, there’s the Kaiser Family Foundation poll that shows that Democrats want specifics from politicians and Republicans want principles. Then there’s the MSNBC campaign switch, reported by young Ezra Klein. He quotes Benjy Sarlin:  MORE...

January 05, 2016

I Want a President That Loves America. Again

It was just a year ago that I floated my dearest political wish upon the waters: “I Want a President Who Loves America.” It really wasn’t asking much. Since then, I’ve written again and again about what I want in a president.  MORE...

December 08, 2015

I Want a President Who Understands the Value of the Nation State

President Obama’s Oval Office address on Sunday night was par for the course: steady as she goes, and don’t let’s be beastly to the Muslims.  MORE...

November 03, 2015

I Want a President That Demonstrates Strategic Vision

Now that President Obama has sent boots on the ground into Syria, the question is: What’s the strategy? We know the president’s strategy on domestic policy; he wants to expand government-by-experts to the utter limit. And he wants to keep today’s hyphenated Americans by dividing them from “typical Americans” using Frankfurt School and Alinsky techniques to keep them hived off in identity silos. But what is the famed Lightworker’s strategy for the Middle East?  MORE...

October 06, 2015

I Want a President Who's "Unteachable." But Not Like Obama

Back in the glorious days of the Reagan administration Democratic wise man Clark Clifford opined that Reagan was an “amiable dunce.” That is Eighties-speak for today’s complaint that President Obama is “unteachable.”  MORE...

September 08, 2015

I Want a President That is a "Strong Leader." Not!

Last week, as I was practicing my French with DuoLingo, I heard Rush Limbaugh making a penetrating point about the 2016 election. It’s like 2008, he said, only this time it is conservatives that are investing all their hopes in an untried candidate and assuming he agrees with them.  MORE...

August 06, 2015

I Want a President Who Will Encourage the Millennials

If there’s one group in America that’s hurting worse than the African Americans in Prince George’s County looking at $300,000 mortgages on their $150,000 homes, it’s got to be the Millennials.  MORE...

July 07, 2015

I Want a President Born on the Fourth of July

Just in time for the fireworks, Gallup reports that the share of Americans that are “extremely proud” of America is down to 54%. It was 58% when America elected its First Black President (H/T PJMedia).  MORE...

June 02, 2015

I Want a President Who Cares About People Like Me

It is, I think, scandalous that Barack Obama won the “cares about people like me” sweepstakes over Mitt Romney by 81%-18% in 2012. The New York Post reported that it wasn’t an accident:  MORE...

March 31, 2015

I Want a President Who Plays by the Rules

If you are a politician, why bother to play by the rules? Or if you are a citizen, why should you care whether the political leaders on your team play by the rules? (It goes without saying that we all care when the Other Guys break the rules.)  MORE...

March 03, 2015

I Want a President Who'll Dump the Stupid FCC

It was the Progressive Era that invented independent regulatory agencies. We needed an Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate those railroads. The noble idea was that we needed independent experts to protect the helpless farmer from the greed of the railroad barons. We needed a watchdog that was free of both of partisan taint and political patronage and also free from influence by corporate power.  MORE...

December 30, 2014

I Want a President That Loves America

I first fell in love with America 49 years ago. I flew from the UK to Denver visit my parents in Christmas 1965, and it was love at first sight. I fell in love with America, the land; I fell in love with America, the people. And I fell in love with the American way of life, the unconsciously optimistic approach to life and work and the future.  MORE...