The upside to Obama-style government expansionism is that it is destined to fail – not because we are an ungovernable people but because we are unmanageable. This is really where the President and his like-minded Democratic allies slip on the political banana peel.
Obama started out with a few discredited and reactionary hypotheses (and make no mistake about it; his notion that government should get top billing in our daily lives is reactionary, not revolutionary). The plan goes something like this: only government can bring the necessary resources and expertise to bear in solving the nation’s increasingly complex problems, and in order to do this in an effective way, the most natural and efficient approach is to make everybody a client of one or more bureaucracies staffed with an army of technocrats. This is an enormously expensive proposition, but it can be paid for through an increase in taxes and an expansion of regulation that will skim the “excess” profits from the private sector and provide the additional benefit of imposing order and predictability on the “chaos” of the market place.
But this strategy inevitably throws a rod because several critical factors always combine to overheat the engine. In the first place, government, with few exceptions, is not a creative force, and creativity is the most important component of human capital, particularly at the microeconomic level which drives GDP growth. A nation’s economic well-being is the summation of millions of individual choices that are made every day by consumers and producers, and no one person – not even a czar – can replicate that aggregation of buying and selling decisions, or the underlying factors that prompt them, with a computer model. In the second place, where is the evidence that bureaucrats, as a whole, possess any particular expertise at all? We have seen a parade of starry-eyed ideologues, eager (but meager) beavers, glorified ward-heelers and straight-up nut-buckets assume positions of tremendous responsibility in the Obama administration, with utterly predictable (i.e., disappointing, if not disastrous) results. Thirdly, has anyone noticed a great clamoring among the citizenry for nanny-state control of health care or jobs creation or carbon output? The people realize that you don’t get something for nothing, and the medium of exchange for more government is personal freedom - a steep price that few are willing to pay.
Obama may, against the evidence to date, salvage his presidency and avoid the odious distinction of becoming the worst president since Jimmy Carter; but his strange alienation from America and Americans does not bode well for him.
Update: None of the above is intended to convey the idea that we should just sit back and wait for leftism to fail (yet again). Leftist policies can do enormous damage even over the short-term; and the left is well-organized (H/T: Dan Riehl)