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The shape of things to come

If you are curious about what plans the Obama administration is working on to reshape American society, or what the consequences of current policies might be, attention must be paid. Among those who have been paying close attention is Charles Krauthammer. In “Obama: The grand strategy,” Krauthammer postulates “a tripartite social democratic agenda: nationalized health care, federalized education (ultimately guaranteed through college) and a cash-cow carbon tax (or its equivalent) to subsidize the other two.” The column is Krauthammer’s final installment in a series including “Obama proposes a European U.S.” and “Deception at core of Obama plans.”

On a related note, economist Irwin Stelzer addresses the shape of things to come in “Oh, the changes we’ll see.” Stelzer briefly touches on energy, education and health care, concluding that “greater equality of income distribution is, for Obama, the summu[m] bonum.”

Taken together, these columns support the reading of Obama that Professor Charles Kesler set out in “The audacity of Barack Obama.” Professor Kesler deduced Obama’s ambition to enact large, transformative policies that will reshape the United States in the direction of social equality at the expense of individual liberty.

The growth in the money supply that began at the end of the Bush administration continues unabated in the proliferating economic and financial programs promoted by the Obama administration. It heralds a coming inflation of the likes we have never seen in the United States in the event that the Federal Reserve hesitates to reverse the the expansion of the money supply when monetary velocity picks up again. Yet the political pressures that will inhibit the Fed from doing so are predictable.

In last week’s Weekly Standard Andy Kessler addressed the subject in one of the more accessible articles on the subject that I have seen. Kessler’s “Putting the toothpaste back in the tube” describes the rapid expansion of the monetary base that the Fed has engineered as well as the reverse engineering that will be required to prevent hyperinflation: “This is a tightrope act. Getting all that toothpaste back into the tube will require the skills of a surgeon and the moxie of a middle linebacker, and someone deaf, dumb, and blind to congressional meddling. And worse, this is something that has never been done before.”

Given the impact of the current recession, the lack of interest in the subject is understandable. When I recently asked a Minneapolis Fed economist about the growth of the money supply, he exuded great confidence in the Fed’s ability to take the appropriate actions at the right time.

It was the Fed that to a great degree got us into this mess holding down interest rates too long in 2003 and 2004. See our own “How Bernanke staged a revolution.” One would have to be foolhardy to share the Fed’s confidence that it will get it right when the time comes to sop up a trillion or two of the dollars it has created in the past year. At the least, it would be wise to start raising the question with the Fed.

All of this is a lot to worry about, but it may be the least of it. Thomas Joscelyn draws attention to reports that the Obama administration may be preparing to release as many as seven Uighur Gitmo detainees into the U.S.

One of these reports notes that the release plan is being considered despite the objections of the Department of Homeland Security. Why? Well, the imprudence underlying the administration’s closure of Guantanamo is placing the administration in a box of its own devising. The case of the Uighurs nobody wants is an apt symbol of the Obama administration’s feel-good approach to national security.

As the late Richard Weaver observed in the title of his book, ideas have consequences. The bad ideas driving the Obama administration have a superficial appeal that come with a very large price tag in threats to life and liberty. One can only hope that we will pause to consider their consequences before it is too late.

UPDATE: UCLA Law Professor Daniel Lowenstein points us to “the shape of things to come writ small” in Walter Olson’s “Obama puts MADD chief in charge of highway safety agency.”

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