Obama’s War on Prosperity. By William Tucker. The American Spectator, June 27, 2013.
is going on here? Why is President Obama so utterly unconcerned about
economics, so blasé about unemployment, so absorbed with tales about the coming
environment apocalypse? Well, here’s my analysis.
Obama has managed to win election by assembling two major constituencies: 1) a
lumpen proletariat that has no idea how the economy works, is dependent on the
government, and votes for him because he promises more handouts; and 2) an
upper-crust constituency that thinks “we already have enough,” isn’t interested
in any further economic development, and believes, if anything, that we already
have too much of material possessions
and it’s time to start cutting back on things. This has been the theme of
environmentalism for 40 years. The rationale changes — we’re undergoing a
“population bomb,” we’re drowning in pollution, we’re running out of oil and
other resources — but the message is always the same. We’ve got enough. Time to
call off all this progress. Let’s go back to spinning our own yarn, growing our
own vegetables, and putting up windmills.
these two groups form a perfect vice to smother the ambitions of people who are
interested in furthering the advance of progress and technology — the ones you
might call “average Americans.”
this was perfectly illustrated two weeks ago when filmmaker Robert Stone, who
has just released the pro-nuclear documentary Pandora’s Promise, took on Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., that perfect
embodiment of the environmental ethos. (Nuclear energy, by the way, the only
technology that could possibly forestall global warming, received barely a
passing mention in Obama’s speech. His main contributions have been to appoint
a chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who is opposed to nuclear power
and try to shut down the fuel reprocessing plant in South Carolina.)
of wealth who lives in a retreat in the Hudson River Highlands, Robert Kennedy
plays the upper-crust aristocrat who has turned against technology, just as
Veblen outlined in The Theory of the Leisure Class. He wants to close Indian Point, he’s against fracking, he
objects to natural gas pipelines, he opposed offshore windmills both off Cape
Cod and in Long Island Sound, he’s opposed to genetically modified food, he’s
even crusading against vaccines these days. But he has invested his money in a
couple of huge, useless solar plants in the California desert.
Kennedy kicked off the Pandora debate
by calling the film “an elaborate hoax” and accusing Stone of being on the
payroll of the nuclear industry, Andrew Revkin, the New York Times environmental blogger who moderated the debate,
threw him a challenge. “You’re invested in solar energy,” he said. “Doesn’t
that mean you have your own interests? Why should we believe you?”
pulled up short. You could almost see the wheels turning in his head. “Don’t
you know who I am?” he seemed to exude. “I’m a Kennedy! We Kennedys don’t invest to make money. We already have
money.” His investment, he finally explained, was for the good of mankind.
is the philosophy of an aristocracy. It works perfectly for people who already
have what they want and aren’t terribly concerned with getting more. Much more
important is that lots of other people don’t get what they already have. That
would mean crowding into their restrictively zoned neighborhoods, discovering
their vacation hideaways, and generally engulfing them in the common herd.
course all this plays extremely well in the faculty lounges across America,
where tenure keeps things comfortable, where aristocratic mannerisms are
forever in fashion, and where Obama imbibed most of his knowledge of the world
before becoming President.