If you overlooked Richard Epstein’s primer for Obama, or didn’t make it all the way to the end, you missed this:
[Obama’s] insistence that his program will open up opportunities for all Americans across the board is a bit of idle self-promotion in the face of the deadly combination of high unemployment rates and shrinking labor-market participation that his policies have wrought. His plea to restore the dignity of the middle class is code for his nonstop program of strengthening the hand of labor unions whose regressive and exclusionary policies undermine job opportunities for the very individuals Obama purports to hold closest to his heart.
He compounds these errors by insisting that the enormous contributions of those at the top of the income scale are futile exercises in “trickle down” economics, without bothering to note the literally thousands of good jobs created by the new technologies and businesses introduced by the billionaire entrepreneurs whom he castigates at every turn. His final insult is to denounce those who pay the bulk of the nation’s tax revenues as free riders on those who take much from it. Right now, the top one percent that garners roughly 20 percent of the income pays about 40 percent of the taxes. But in our current political culture, it receives only a small fraction of the particularized goods that constitute the bulk of the entitlement budget.
Yet Obama, without argument, always treats the current social distribution of burdens as the legitimate baseline. Every new increase of burdens on the rich is legitimate. Any effort to undo them is not. But it is not possible to cut the taxes on those who at present pay no taxes nor to cut benefits on those who at present receive no benefits.
This is a great primer for Obama, but there is a problem with the concept. You can’t teach somebody who doesn’t want to learn, or who thinks he knows it all, or who has something else entirely in mind.