Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama: Forgotten Men, Forgotten Women

Barack Obama shortly after delivering State of the Union Address

If they ever build a monument to political cynicism, the shining face on it should be that of Barack Hussein Obama. In Amity Shlaes brilliant historical study of the Depression era (The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression), she talks about the people who got left out of FDR's effort to rescue the American economy.

Who were the people who didn't get help? Basically, those in the middle class. The poor got help. The unions got help. Even the lawyers busily helping people sue one another got assistance. The government bureaucrats and political poohbahs made out well. Who got left out? The people who went to work everyday and struggled to feed their families. They didn't demand help. They didn't even ask for it. They were -- and are -- the Forgotten Americans.

[Note: One my other blog, I compare Sarah Palin to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I noted that "Barack Obama being Commander-in-Chief is about the same as Madonna being Mother Superior at a nunnery."]

In the following William Sumner quote (in italics), assume that "A" is the President, "B" is another politically powerful individual (Pelosi?), and X is the person who would benefit from government bailouts.

"As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then proposed to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X . . . What I want to do is to look up C. I want to show what manner of man [or woman in our time] he [or she] is. I call him the Forgotten Man. Perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of . . . . He works, he votes, generally he prays -- but he always pays . . . . (William Graham Sumner, Yale University, 1883)

I have a friend in Illinois who is an emergency room physician. He went to school for many years in order to develop the skills he needs for his important profession. He works many hours of overtime in an area that has more than its share of emergencies. His wife also has a good job.

In the view of Obama and many other left-wing Democrats, my wife and his are Public Enemies Number 1? Why? Because their net income exceeds $250,000 annually. Obama and his allies ("B," which in this case means Pelosi, Reid, and their cohorts) want to increase their taxes sharply.
Oh, and Obama also wants to reduce the deduction for mortgage interest on their home. Since they do own equities, he also wants to increase their tax on capital gains.

My friend and his wife certainly qualify as "C" in Sumner's analysis. Obama has decreed that it is their duty (Joe Biden would call it their "patriotic duty") to bail out X. In their case, "X" would be the hospital employee (unionized, unlike my friend) armed wtih a mop-and-pail. Obama's (and our "B" category, Reid's and Pelosi's) view is that X needs the money more than A (the emergency room physician) and his wife (call her "A1").

Does the fact that there are a lot more Xs than Cs -- that is, a lot more voters -- have anything to do with Obama's policies? Silly question. It has everything to do with it.

My emergency room friend likes his job, but the hours (he mostly works through the night) can be crushing. He calculates that the increased federal tax rates, the increased capital gains tax, the reduced mortgage interest deduction, along with high state income taxes and hefty sales taxes in Illinois would be a problem. For every additional dollar he and wife earn, they'd get to keep perhaps 40 cents (if they're lucky).

Does he really want to spend a lot more time with sick, injured, and dying people for that additional 40 cents? Does he want, as a doctor in a high-risk area, to pay ever-skyroceting premiums for malpractice insurance? Should he ignore the fact that America has five-six times as many trial lawyers grasping for big settlements as any other industrialized nation?

The question is: how much does Barack Obama care about C, my friend? Alas, my friend is the one Sumner talks about as "the man who never is thought of . . ." He is a strong wage-earner and a vital component of civilized society. But he has only limited political power. As the pollsters can tell us, there are a lot more "mop-and-pail" people than there are first-rate emergency physicians.

My friend is the the Forgotten Man. His wife is the Forgotten woman. We generally forget about him also -- that is, until we unexpectedly end up in the emergency room. Then, we hope -- and pray -- he is working those additional hours. And when he saves our life -- or those of a friend or family member -- we don't begrudge him a nickel of his earnings.

1 comment:

Ted said...