What Keeps Peggy and Me Awake at Night: the Second Term

I seldom miss anything by Peggy Noonan. I wait for her Saturday column in the Wall Street Journal to complete my own thinking on important political developments. That’s because her clarity of thought and of expression is irreplaceable. Peggy Noonan is one of my four or five thinking guides. Here is what she had to say on Sat. January 27th 2013 in the WSJ about President Obama’s domestic program for his second term. I wouldn’t change a word or a comma.

He means to change America in fundamental ways and along the lines of justice as he sees it…. He does not care if you like him-he’s just as soon you did but it’s not necessary for him. He is certain he is right in what he is doing, which is changing the economic balance between rich and poor. The rich are going to be made less rich, and those who are needy or request help are going to get more in government services, which the rich will pay for. He’d just as soon the middle class not get lost in the shuffle but if they wind up marginally less middle class he won’t be up nights. The point is redistribution.

I am wondering, I keep wondering about two things:

1 Are there any Obama supporters who disagree that this is, in a capsule, the president’s domestic program?

2 Are there any Obama supporters who disagree with the program itself?

Peggy Noonan continues, pointing out the fears of conservatives like me vis-à-vis an Obama second term that would actually unfold along the lines she indicates.

The great long-term question is the effect the change in mood he seeks to institute will have on what used to be the national character… .Don’t you change people when you tell them they have an absolute right to government support regardless of their efforts? Don’t you encourage dependence, and a bitter sense of entitlement? What about the wearing down of taxpayers? Some, especially those who are younger, do not fully understand that what is supporting them is actually coming from other people. To them it seems to come from ‘the government,’ the big marble machine far away that prints money.

I would change one thing to the above: Many young liberal college graduates I know are well aware of the fact that the government does not just print money. Rather, they think that “the rich” control vastly more of the whole pie than they actually do. They believe that more taxes can be extracted from others without causing damage to the American economic machine. They believe, in a capsule, that there is no relationship between high taxes on others and their own difficulties in finding a reasonably well-paid job.

I wonder if there are any liberals who share this kind of concern. I even wonder if anyone who voted for Barack Obama’s second term had given this any thought at all. I am curious, eager for answers.

By the way, I think that complete self-assurance about the rightness of one’s ideas is not fascism itself but that it’s the antechamber of fascism.

About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
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11 Responses to What Keeps Peggy and Me Awake at Night: the Second Term

  1. Terry Amburgey says:

    “1 Are there any Obama supporters who disagree that this is, in a capsule, the president’s domestic program?”

    Yes

    “I think that complete self-assurance about the rightness of one’s ideas is not fascism itself but that it’s the antechamber of fascism.”

    You forgot to add that it is also the hallmark of teapublicans.

    Here’s a question for you. Do you disagree with the following statement: during the last 20 years there has been a massive income transfer from the poor and middle class to the rich.

    • Prof. Terry. I was asking if there was anyone disagreeing with Peggy Noonan’s representation of Obama reality. I think yo did not deal with that question.

      Massive income transfer? I don’t know This is in essence a trick question because anyone can always change the definition of middle class and/ or of “the rich,” or upper class to show anything unless, UNLESS income stays exactly where it is over time. I wouldn’t want to live in a society with this kind of frozen income structure.

      In general, I am not concerned about transfers that occur as a result of market forces. I am concerned about people being better off than they were, including and beginning with the more poor segments of society, however defined.

      My indifference to transfers (that happen thorough market forces) and your obsession with them may well constitute a major difference in conservative and liberal temperaments. I suspect that liberals are envious.

      Your rage against “teapublicans” is taking on a folkloric flavor!~ Who in the world are they (besides me)?

      Answering my own question about “teapublicans” perhaps.

      The Tea Party
      Hillary has received praise from the adoring mainstream media after asking in regards to the Benghazi cover-up, “What difference at this point does it make?” Do you think she’s deserving of praise for her testimony? Take our survey and let us know what you think: http://www.theteaparty.net/hillary-clinton-and-the-benghazi-lies/
      Hillary has received praise from the adoring mainstream media after asking in regards to the Benghazi cover-up, “What difference at this point does it make?” Do you think she’s deserving of praise for her testimony? Take our survey and let us know what you think: http://www.theteaparty.net/hillary-clinton-and-the-benghazi-lies/

  2. Bruce says:

    Peggy Noonan spells it out. It’s telling how Obama’s efforts to change the essential structure of our country is seen as positive. Fundamental change, I guess that’s what we need, it sounds cool anyway. I don’t like things the way they are, so the change will do me good. Out with the old, in with the new. Status quo bad, fundamental change good. Out with the Constitution (except the stuff that protects the press), in with the imperial presidency. Out with the rule of law, in with whatever big voting blocks want. Out with the old principle of working hard and being allowed to hoard money, in with Robin Hood redistribution. Out with the special interest inequality of state’s rights, in with the inherent fairness of the federal government. Out with the hassle of individual choice (except for women’s health), in with the government deciding what’s best for all. Out with the concept of opportunity, in with the idea of mandated outcome.
    Did the people who voted for Obama’s second term give this any thought at all? I think most of them voted think they were voting for the guy who would give them stuff. To their way of thinking being given things beats working to get more every time. Even if it’s only another promise. The people who think otherwise and voted for him could not have been thinking rationally. That’s the problem, liberals jump into doing things because it sounds good without fully thinking them out. We are still suffering the unintended consequences of the The Great Society, and we’re in the process of taking it to the next level.

  3. Terry Amburgey says:

    “Prof. Terry. I was asking if there was anyone disagreeing with Peggy Noonan’s representation of Obama reality. I think yo did not deal with that question.”

    I said “yes”. What answer could possibly be less ambiguous?

    “In general, I am not concerned about transfers that occur as a result of market forces.”

    Apparently you’re also not concerned about transfers that occur as a result of government tax policies. Here’s another ‘trick’ question. In Lousiana and Kansas the teapublicans are proposing dropping the state income tax and raising the sales tax to compensate for the loss of revenue. Do you think this is a good idea?

    • 1 I stand corrected. while remembering that brevity is the essence of… (?).

      2 Replacing an income tax with a sales tax is probably regressive. That’s your point, I imagine. Whether it’s a good idea or not, I don’t know; it depends what overall effect it is expected to have on the states’ economies. There is a chance I would be for such change if I knew more. Fiscal progressiveness is only an idol. I don’t mind if it’s re-examined every so often.

      In general, I am not very interested in what left-liberals call “fairness.” Communist Albania was probably fair, a fair hell-hole.

  4. Terry Amburgey says:

    Pardon the spam. Here’s David Frum’s representation of conservative reality.

    “Here it seems to me is the core problem: the big winners under the American fiscal system are the elderly, the rural, and the affluent—Republican constituencies. It’s not easy to balance the budget or shrink government spending to any significant degree in ways that don’t pinch Republican voters much harder than they pinch Democratic voters.

    To escape that reality, some conservative thought leaders have constructed an alternative reality. In this alternative reality, “welfare” not Medicare is the number one social spending cost.

    In this alternative reality, government employment has not fallen by more than 500,000 since 2008.

    In this alternative reality, half the country is deemed not to pay any tax—because this alternative reality refuses to count payroll taxes, excise taxes, and state and local taxes as taxes.

    In this alternative reality, Medicare is counted as a program that is “paid for” by its beneficiaries contributions while unemployment insurance is not—even though the latter statement would be much closer to true.

    In this alternative reality, we are in imminent danger of losing our freedom—even though, as a matter of daily experience, more Americans of all races and both sexes face fewer legal constraints upon their ability to live as they please than ever before in the nation’s history.

    Inside this alternative reality, conservative thought leaders have substituted culture war for normal politics. They have succeeded only in isolating themselves from the country in which they live.”

    • Much of this seems true to me.

      It would be easy to write a companion piece about liberal alternative reality. It would be a lot longer.

      Rational people of conscience, like me and you, must make it their task to inject facts, reality into their parties’ myths.

      I do it often. See my rantings at conservatives about their mistaken beliefs regarding illegal immigration.

      By the way: I think liberal alternative reality begins with forced changes in the meaning of words: There are no “illegal aliens,” just “undocumented workers.” It seems to me that conservatives engage little in this sort of Orwellian practice. You will say that there are examples in the piece you cite but it seems to me that they are weak, that they are not language changes at all.

  5. Terry Amburgey says:

    A very nice post outlining the stunning hypocracy of Jacques’ favorite political hack: Peggy Noonan. I love it when someone can juxtapose 2 pieces of writing saying exactly opposite points. I’ll grant you its not as good as 2 videos of, for example, The Dick Cheney with one showing him saying I didn’t say X and the second showing him saying X. But it’s close.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/06/1229361/-Peggy-Noonan-on-Surveillance-Then-and-Now

  6. Thank you for your contribution, Terry.
    As usual, because you give anyone an assignment on this blog, you have to say why. The promise of confounding me does not seem enough.

  7. I did Terry’s reading assignment: .I am a” hypocrat” (he means “hypocrit,” not his fault; went to public school) because I generally admire Peggy Noonan and she may have changed her position on government surveillance of citizens? I say “may” because not allsurveillance programs are equal and not two time periods are equal. One more time, Prof Terry baffles me. He appears to be made indignant by government surveillance but not by the government killing him without due process. (The latter i n a series of commentsabout the President, on this blog.) Very sophisticated thinking!

  8. Terry Amburgey says:

    The difference is simple. I’m surveilled if I communicate electronically. I’m at risk of being killed without due process if I go to war against the U.S.

    Peggy hasn’t ‘changed her position’. The only difference is whether POTUS is republican or democrat. As always she’s a political hack.

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