Commentary Magazine


More Than a Sideshow

Charles Krauthammer explains what the president is up to:

His goal is to rewrite the American social compact, to recast the relationship between government and citizen. He wants government to narrow the nation’s income and anxiety gaps. Soak the rich for reasons of revenue and justice. Nationalize health care and federalize education to grant all citizens of all classes the freedom from anxiety about health care and college that the rich enjoy. And fund this vast new social safety net through the cash cow of a disguised carbon tax.

So Krauthammer is not all that concerned about nationalizing GM or bossing around banks because this is a confined sideshow to “Obama’s real agenda: his holy trinity of health care, education and energy” — with which, Krauthammer contends, “will come a radical extension of the welfare state; social and economic leveling in the name of fairness; and a massive increase in the size, scope and reach of government.”

But it seems the nationalizations and the holy trinity are inextricably linked. The statist interventions have a three-fold impact on the economic and political climate. First,  they slowly accustom the populace to the notion that massive government interventions are not extraordinary but “reasonable” steps. In a year or so it won’t seem odd at all that the government has determined which medical procedures are best and which are to be de-funded.  Second, it perpetuates the notion that the private sector is incompetent and requires the best and brightest government technocrats to guide and restrain it. We are told that Tim Geithner is a genius and the heads of banks and major industrial concerns are dolts. Who in their right mind would let the latter run their own concerns? And finally, we eliminate from the conversation any concern about Constitutionality or free-market traditions. Congress holds no hearings, nor does it even get to appropriate funds for these escapades. The Executive Branch just does things — gigantic things — without need for justification.

Freedoms, whether political or economic, are lost bit by bit. And the sideshows are more often than not, warm up acts. And the main act here is going to be quite a show stopper.