Never confuse effort with achievement.
The country is in shambles, and it’s time to think of historical legacies. Fortunately, as Barack Obama formally starts his second term, the President can salve both through implementing the same set of policies.
Over the last four years these pages have detailed the mistakes of this administration which have accelerated the country on the path to fiscal ruin, domestic polarization, and international ineffectiveness (even The Economist and The Heritage Foundation agree on these). And though he regained the presidency, most Americans still believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction. What should the President do to assure his place in history as a leader who, after recovering from first-term missteps, was able to turn the country around and regain America’s promise in the 21st century?
According to my lights he should do as much of the following as possible –
1. Launch a massive deregulation of America and American life that includes the consolidation and/or elimination of federal departments such as Energy, Education, EPA, Commerce, … .
2. Develop a new tax code that is simple, as flat as possible, and eliminates the convolutions of federal favoritism, behavior modifications, and inhibitions to re-enter the workforce.
3. Reduce federal taxes to historical 18% levels of GDP, and balance the federal budget.
4. Recognize Singularity’s advent and the new labor markets that it will mandate, including the generation of wealth by fewer people using ever more productive technology.
5. Revamp public education to benefit America’s youth instead of those who run the ‘public teaching industry’.
6. Eliminate all public service unions in governments and public education.
7. Eliminate corporate and agricultural welfare (not needed under new tax code).
8. Restructure Obamacare from the unintended and poorly conceived burden that it will now be, to newly formed open, state run markets that invite more competition at the levels and practice of healthcare providers, insurance, and pharma. This includes a revision of the tort laws that promote litigiousness.
9. Restructure entitlements so that their funding is converted to benefit from more private sector investment than untenable taxes which inhibit economic growth.
10. Become a net energy exporter by developing America’s abundant energy resources, especially gas.
11. Engage with our international trading partners – China, EU, South America, Russia, … - to the maximum extent possible to assure that only goods, not armies, cross the world’s borders.
12. Declare a climate change holiday to reevaluate the entire proposition of AGW and its alternative, global cooling on the basis of science and not international politics.
13. Acknowledge the existence of Islamic terror and its demonstrated anti-western objectives, and work toward a quick two state solution with Israel and Palestine. This includes promoting strategically located Gaza to become the world’s most productive and prosperous free port – i.e. get the Palestinians into commerce big time, and invite the Israelis to join them with the long term leasing of adjacent real estate needed for expansion – it is only through business and commercial growth that a sustainable peace will be achieved in the near and mid-east.
14. Revamp our military to project power with air, naval, and space systems that use ground troops in sparing and short engagements. Use the goal of normalizing Iran and parity with China in the Pacific as the design standard for a new force structure.
15. Encourage private sector space enterprises, and give NASA a new inspiring objective that invites international co-operation to achieve man’s next great step on its way to the stars.
16. Honor American citizenship by securing our borders and legitimizing our resident illegal aliens onto acceptable paths to residency, repatriation, or citizenship.
17. Re-establish the constitutional intent of states’ rights, and encourage states to resume their role as competitive laboratories of liberty and prosperity.
[Addendum] After some reflection I want to add some ruminations on President Obama’s second inaugural speech. To me it was an extremely ideological speech – an impression corroborated tonight by talking heads of both persuasions – that underlined what I have been interpreting about this man’s belief system since his 2008 stump speeches. The liberal Washington Post opined that it was “a speech that challenges the other side”, but was primarily targeted to his base. He no longer needs to pander to us all.
His parade contained no acknowledgement of our European legacy - no units with costumed Pilgrims, no Revolutionary War patriots, no nod to the entrepreneurs of our industrial revolution, no recognition of our great westward movement that formed what today is America, no nod to the faith that saw our forebears through unimaginable difficulties. Instead he was entertained by a bunch of hoaky Indians dancing in Hollywood-like costumes in an ensemble that included women to satisfy politically correct gender equality dicta. I was surprised that no obviously gay couples were included in the spectacle; perhaps I missed them.
One of my maxims has been to “Never confuse effort with accomplishment.” President Obama left no doubt that in his America both should be equated and equally rewarded. And he let us know that he is proud of his ideology, which means that he will do everything that he can to implement it during the first, say, eighteen months before he becomes a certified lame duck.
Today he gave no quarter to his political opponents; he sought no reconciliation between the country’s ideological poles. His legacy will be that of the leftmost ideologue of all American presidents. He made it clear that he was not acknowledging the many paths up the historical mountain of America’s common future of achievement; instead he told us that he would lead us up a different mountain altogether (and there’s more to be said about that).
In the large view, he wants to be remembered as perhaps the co-equal of MLK as America’s preeminent civil rights leader. Of one thing we can be certain, in our history his regime will be more than merely noteworthy.