The rhetoric of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about the sad
state of America is reminiscent of the suspect populism of John
Edwards, the millionaire lawyer who recently dropped out of the
Democratic presidential race.
Barack Obama may have gone to
exclusive private schools. He and his wife may both be lawyers who
between them have earned four expensive Ivy League degrees. They may
make about a million dollars a year, live in an expensive home and send
their kids to prep school. But they are still apparently firsthand
witnesses to how the American dream has gone sour. Two other Ivy League
lawyers, Hillary and Bill Clinton, are multimillionaires who have found
America to be a land of riches beyond most people's imaginations. But
Hillary also talks of the tragic lost dream of America.
these gloom-and-doom narratives by the well-off, we less fortunate
Americans are doing almost everything right but still are not living as
well as we deserve. And the common culprit is a government that is not
doing enough good for us, and corporations that do too much bad to us.
the new pessimistic indictment, the home mortgage meltdown has not
occurred because too many speculative buyers were hoping to flip houses
for quick profits. It had nothing to do with misguided attempts of
government and lending institutions to put first-time buyers in homes
through zero-down payments, interest-only loans, and subprime but
adjustable mortgage rates — as part of liberal efforts to increase
And there apparently are few Americans
who unwisely borrowed against their homes a second and third time to
remodel or purchase big-ticket consumer items — in the belief their
equity would always rise faster than their debts. Nor are we to look at
this downturn as part of a historical boom-and-bust cycle in the
housing industry — the present low prices and nonperforming loans the
natural counterresponse to the overpriced real estate of the last five
Likewise, students are failing to graduate from
college because there are too few government-guaranteed student loans.
We don't hear that thousands enter public universities without basic
reading and mathematical skills — or that their college problems might
in part be the fault of their own misplaced priorities in high school,
and in part the fault of a mostly therapeutic educational system,
offering fluffy courses and self-esteem training rather than rigorous
math, science, literature and history classes.
Nor is there
ever mention of teachers' unions, the system of tenure, or a vapid,
politically correct curriculum, as explanations why our students are
not competitive in the global marketplace.
We also hear oil
prices are sky high and our own auto industry is failing due to
windfall profits and corporate greed, but there's no discussion of the
fact that oil-rich autocracies like Russia, Venezuela and the Gulf
monarchies have obtained a stranglehold on the global petroleum supply.
For Hillary and Barack, our automobile manufacturing crisis is not
the result of uniquely lavish union health and retirement packages for
American autoworkers. The government is somehow mostly to blame for
Detroit's meltdown and the energy crisis, not Americans' own tastes in
the 1990s for large gas-guzzlers and big homes, and their concurrent
opposition to nuclear power plants, oil drilling off the coasts and in
Alaska, and conservation of resources.
Wal-Mart, free trade
and our debt to China also come in for blame. Neither Mr. Obama nor
Mrs. Clinton suggests that America's middle classes have more
purchasing power and accumulated consumer goods than any people in
In reality, our acquisitiveness is a result not of
corporate greed, but of our fondness for shopping at discounted
warehouse mega-stores, whose goods are the result of hard work of
hundreds of millions of low-paid Chinese. They not only toil long hours
to make our cheap televisions and stereos, but their government lends
us the money at low interest — through massive buying of U.S.
government bonds — to buy their stuff.
To the extent we have
any social and legal problems from unchecked illegal immigration, it
has nothing to do with the cynicism and corruption of the Mexican
government that deliberately exports, exploits and profits off its own
people. The problem is not the fondness for low-paid, off-the-books
illegal labor among the upper-middle classes, nor the disdain for the
law of illegal immigrants themselves, who crowd to the front of the
immigration line. Instead, America's xenophobia, blame-casting and
insensitive government have made it needlessly rough on 11 million
arrivals who otherwise did us a favor by coming.
Obama and Clinton try to outdo each other in blaming government for our
lack of individual responsibility and promising solutions by raising
taxes to give us more government, they offer little change and less