It is children, not teachers, who need to be at the center of education policy. It is the provision of services, not lifetime employment for providers, that ought to engage the attention of governors and legislators around the country. America needs government and it needs good government (though it doesn’t need too much government or government doing too many things). Democrats cannot advocate effectively for the things government can and should do until they free themselves from their current indenture to government employees. Government has to be affordable and efficient; otherwise we will have less of it than we need. Democrats need to get on the right side of this issue and for that to happen the influence of public employee unions in the party needs to decline.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Barack Obama, the post-everything visionary who vowed to deliver us from a suffocating political past, is in fact a dinosaur. The fossilized evidence has revealed itself over the past two years. So deep in the layers of political history is the 44th president lodged that even Palestinian leaders have moved on from the grievances he cites. So overtaken by the times is he that European heads of state dismiss his economics as yesterday’s errors. Indeed, Obama is so plainly out of step with the challenges of today that he has bowed out of the present altogether and redirected our attention to an impossible and therapeutic “future.”
We have exited politics and entered prophecy. The president’s budget reflects this. It is a spending plan for an alternate universe. “No entitlement reform, no tax reform, no significant spending reform, indeed no meaningful change of direction of any sort,” notes Yuval Levin at National Review. “The budget does nothing to lessen the burdens with which we now stand to saddle the rising generation, and which will stifle growth and prosperity along the way.” Sure, spoil the fun by being factual. But presidential prophecy sees things differently. Just today, I received an e-mail from the White House explaining that “the tough choices we had to make so we can afford to invest in our future.” And it’s going to be grand. “We need to invest in roads, bridges, high-speed rail and high-speed Internet to help our businesses ship their goods and ideas around the world.”
What kinds of “goods and ideas” will be coursing through these space-age conduits? Well, prophecy is a mysterious business. He assured an audience of workers at a turbine plant in Schenectady, New York, last month, “We’re gonna build stuff and invent stuff.” And to Chinese President Hu Jintao, he relayed, “We want to sell you all kinds of stuff.” Sure, he’s a little fuzzy on the details. But he’s a big-picture guy, remember? And what do you think the future is for anyway?
Spoilsports interested in a realistic picture of our future might want to consider the news coming out of Greece today. The AP reports: “Greece’s economy will shrink by about 3 percent or more this year, the central bank predicted Tuesday, meaning the country would wallow in recession for a third straight year as it battles to recover from its devastating debt crisis.” That’s where the dinosaur economics of the entitlement state leads. As ABC News’s Jake Tapper said of the new Obama budget, “At no point in the president’s 10-year projection would the U.S. government spend less than it’s taking in.” Welcome to Greece. While we spend money we don’t have, we will pacify ourselves with futuristic visions of high-speed toys. When the Europeans did it, their dream future was a magically forgiving EU that would wash away all their present-day concerns. That’s the only difference between them and us.
Barack Obama has stopped voting present on the present. He’s already on a high-speed train to the land of fast-moving American “stuff.” It’s hard to blame him, in a way. The future has always held a great paradoxical appeal to those stuck in the past. Which is why his version of the future sounds a lot like something cooked up at the 1964 World’s Fair, and why his description of “our Sputnik moment” is actually a lot more relevant than it should be. If no one successfully counters the proposed budget, it’s back to the future for all of us.
I've reprinted the whole thing here because it is, by far, the best short summary of the Obama presidency I have yet to see.... Read it and weep.