The speech of the federal president in Chattanooga gives us fresh occasion to consider the national economy argument in all its strength.
For that is what Mr. Obama offers. Might. Direction. Purpose. Leadership. His 2,000 listeners Tuesday in the Amazon factory found it easy to be thrilled at the strength represented by Mr. Obama. Had I been included, no doubt I would have felt the sense of the future having arrived, of it being in accord with the proposals of the chief executive and full of merit.
But in God’s providence I was not in the audience, and read the speech the next day at Chattanoogan.com. Mr. Obama’s proposal is to cut stratospheric corporate tax rates (the world’s highest) in exchange for more federal spending on pet projects.
Uncle increasingly irascible
Almost anything Mr. Obama says seems like a distraction from the terrifying developments of the surveillance superstate, as evidenced by new revelations about a program from Uncle that sucks up every Facebook post, every URL from every computer — just for safe keeping. Just in case. The civil authority in Washington, D.C., the seeming source of economic power and direction, is spending its capital of goodwill rapidly, the Guardian revelations suggest. It’s as if the national power is aware that common Americans like you and me are becoming adverse, even hostile, to it. Each of us is a potential doubter, even critic of its doings. Each of us are a potential enemy. So our secrets must belong to it.
Civil government’s capital base of compliance, obedience, consent and appreciation is dissipating; the United States is becoming brittle.
• Almost to a man the federal house of representatives (including Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga, an attorney) passed a bill to criminalize public protest and presence at “national special security events.” The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act is a strict liability statute signed by the president that makes it possible for a protester or pedestrian to commit a crime by being in a designated area without realizing it.
• The government’s construction of a surveillance data center in Utah costs F$1.2 billion and is 15 times the size of the MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants. In may the National Security Agency broke ground on a second data center at the agency HQ near Baltimore. The data farms together comprise 228 acres, more than seven times the size of the Pentagon. A story in Defenseone.com about the project points out that NSA bends over backwards to hire disabled people, including some who are deaf. “I have engineers that are hard of hearing, and our workforce all took sign language so they could actuallycommunicate to one another,” official Harvey Davis says. Oregon Sen. Tom Wyden, in an important speech, indicates the NSA is in charge of the country, having lied to the congress for five years about its surveillance of innocent Americans.
• With Obamacare taking effect, more members of the medical profession, who sold out decades ago to the federal welfare system, are escaping into the free market. In 2009, 3,700 doctors oped out of Medicare. In 2012 9,539 did. Of course 685,000 doctors are enrolled as beneficiaries and providers of the system, so the leak is small. But as the system advances, more will exit. The marketplace, which will bypass the myopic “intelligence community,” will flow around tumors such as Obamacare.
Local economy is about weakness
From the perspective of the all-powerful welfare/warfare state, local economy is contemptible. It owns shares in the wrong god, represents a hapless deity and obeys laws rejected by the power economy but secretly relied upon by it for durability. Local people live out the fantasy that they are making their own way with their businesses, their clubs, their churches and lives. But to important people, local economy, especially as we consider it more or less a free market, is boobish, selfish, contemptible. It is to be faulted because it operates on two key principles of the free market: service to the customer and the profit motive. The fault-finders say the free market is a center for greed and vice because it is unsupervised by the state, its operators are selfish and do not bring cohesion and identification with the commonwealth. The free market doesn’t have civic virtues, if you will, those of organization and systematization from above.
But the free market will be around when the monoliths fail. What’s ahead? Maybe a mega hack on Wall Street. A revolt. A stock market collapse. Hyperinflation, in which new debt pares down old, But maybe nothing so exciting. Maybe just time’s passage. The free market will stand amid the settling dust, and be ready to get to work “now that that’s over.” As we consider his activist speech in which we are to follow government, President Obama seems to preside over many areas of local life in which he has no real influence. This aura of presiding over all of America, over all of government, over the entire economy may win gulps of adulation and praise from some Amazon employees. As his parties take credit for American success stories, they are setting themselves up to take the blame when the crises come — or as the calendar pages flip.