Does it bother anyone else that the president of the United States seems to believe that our collective future entails assembling battery parts in a government-subsidized factory for $9 an hour? Is that really what Americans envision for their kids — an assembly line? Because when you look past Barack Obama’s mesmerizingly hollow rhetoric, what he’s proposing is a return of jobs that progress and prosperity have left behind.
In his State of the Union speech, the president laid out a vision that we’ve heard countless times. In his world, billionaires and their high-powered accountants are sticking it to the middle class. It’s a place where wealth is static and one person’s success always diminishes another’s fortunes. The president explained that “it’s not a bigger government we need but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.”
Many news accounts of the SOTU focused on the first part of the president’s contention, not the second. “Set our priorities”? So Washington is not only regulating safety and keeping an eye on big banks and making things fairer but also planning the economy now? Seems like an awfully outmoded way to approach a dynamic and unpredictable world.
What are Obama’s priorities, anyway? The president proposes that politicians set up “manufacturing hubs” to assist the private sector in “restoring” and “bringing back” low-paying manufacturing jobs. And who better to create centers of inefficient production and unsustainable boondoggles than an institution that spends $1 trillion more than it brings in every year? Can’t think of anyone.