Liberalism: A Luxury We Can’t Afford

It is hard to overstate how bad yesterday’s economic news was. First-quarter GDP growth was revised downward from the originally-estimated 1.9% to an almost-nonexistent 0.4%. Second-quarter GDP growth was estimated at 1.3%; if it is ultimately revised downward to the same extent as the first quarter estimate, it will go negative. A double-dip recession is now a real possibility.

It is often said that liberals don’t understand how the economy works or how wealth is created. The truth is, I think, worse than that. Many liberals believe that our society is too rich, too vigorous, consumes too many resources, and–this may be the worst affront of all–makes millionaires out of uneducated bumpkins. Thus, increasing the nation’s wealth has never been on modern liberalism’s agenda.

When the Obama administration took office in the wake of an economic crisis, it did not view the poor economy it inherited as a problem to be solved, but rather an opportunity to be taken advantage of. “Never let a crisis go to waste” was the administration’s mantra. Instead of pursuing policies that could have strengthened the economy, the Obama administration cynically enacted a “stimulus” bill that amounted to little more than a payoff to public sector unions and, taking advantage of a 60-day window in which it had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, rammed government medicine down the throats of the American people. The administration threatened at every turn to raise taxes, blocked the development of American energy sources, multiplied counterproductive regulations, distorted markets with bailouts, and treated business as a combination of whipping boy and honey pot.

The results were predictable: our economy now teeters on the brink of a decline the consequences of which we cannot begin to foresee. Normally-supine business leaders are finally speaking up:

As the economic recovery stalls and the debt debate in Washington fuels market uncertainty, business leaders — many of whom were once close to the White House — are increasingly airing their fears that President Obama’s policies are stifling job creation.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Falk told a Senate panel this week that the administration’s proposal to raise the tax on foreign earnings of American-based firms “would put U.S. companies at a significant disadvantage.”

The move “would slow economic growth in the U.S. and impede the creation of U.S.-based jobs,” Mr. Falk…said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee.

Leaders in the oil and gas industry say the administration could clear the way for the creation of thousands of domestic jobs if it weren’t beholden to environmentalists. As one example, they point to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a massive construction project that has been awaiting approval since Mr. Obama took office.

Liberalism is a sort of parasite that feeds on the wealth that free enterprise creates. Liberalism exists for two reasons: 1) to stuff the pocketbooks of those who have learned to live at the taxpayers’ expense, and 2) to feed the moral vanity of those who can’t resist meddling in other peoples’ lives. When times are good, the economy can drag a fair amount of liberalism along behind it. But when times are hard, liberalism is a luxury we can’t afford.

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