--Walter Russell Mead, American Interest
"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."
Are you optimistic? Then you may be destined for success in the market economy. Small business persons have to be optimists. Or would you out of fear rather prolong your childhood, and have the nanny state care for you cradle to grave? Then, my son, you will be a Democrat.
Within the national elite that through government runs the nation, many are optimists. But they are a relatively small group atop a meritocracy pyramid, perched above masses who don't share in the elite’s education-driven success and spoils. It’s Plato’s anti-democratic, philosopher king structure, and it’s as old as the Parthenon. Few share, most serve, those below are asked to trust the wise, to welcome the small rewards sent their way.
It's a world where a few brains uneasily rule over vast, less wise masses.
The Platonic order is built on fear. As Obama’s campaign is now saying, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
My preferred alternative is political and economic democracy, spreading individual decision-making as widely as possible, in the belief that tens of millions of optimists pursuing their dreams will generate job growth, produce a booming economy, and reignite the prosperity that marked most American history.
We need a market-based economic system. We need freedom and individual responsibility. We need set, well understood, simple rules insuring a level playing field, delivering fair competition and progress.
Government gets in the way of a successful market economy. Here, from Washington Post house conservative George Will:
“People,” [Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank president Esther] George says, “will figure out a way to make a buck if they know what the rules are.” [H]iring. . . is a wager on the future. [But] government makes the future . . . opaque. Stanford’s John Taylor notes that “over the past 12 years, the number of provisions of the tax code expiring annually has increased tenfold,” the number of federal regulators has grown 25% in five years, and Obamacare and Dodd-Frank expand uncertainty by enlarging the government’s discretion.Business optimism is up against fear-based government.
Unfortunately Mitt Romney, addressing a closed-door group of donors recently (time and place unidentified), spoke far too candidly for his own good about the electorate’s fear-based half--Obama’s coalition of government workers, youth, unmarried women, and minorities--the people inclined to side with government against business:
There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care of them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it. That's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.Not so. Romney’s job, as an optimistic businessman, is to win over as many of the fear-driven dependents as possible, since they along with the rest of the nation benefit from the wealth a working, vibrant market economy produces. Optimism, Mr. Romney. Optimism.