The pugnacious little devil that he was, Theodore Roosevelt, in 1912, ran against his own handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, split the Republican vote, and handed the presidency to Woodrow Wilson.
Wilson, formerly President of Princeton University, is the only man ever elected United States President to have possessed a PHD. Much more subdued in personality than Roosevelt, but no less rigid, his unwillingness to placate the Republican coalition, and specifically Henry Cabot Lodge, the United States of America never became member of the League of Nations, Wilson’s own brainchild conceived to protect the world from war.
Considering Barack Obama’s high minded and idealistic rhetoric which has captured the presidency, it will be interesting to see if the moderating qualities of the office temper Obama’s views or empower his ego.
It is one thing to wield the sword of class envy to persuade enough of your countrymen to support your ascendancy, it is quite another to use that sword to cut off your own head.
Given Obama’s tendency and ambition to share the wealth because he views the unfettered success and reward from hard work as unfair , the greatest attribute of George W. Bush’s presidency might just be that it has left us in such economic fragility that Obama’s administration will have tied hands moving forward, making it difficult or impossible to make good on his redistributionist promises.
As much as he likes to declare he wants to grow this economy from the bottom up, certainly he must know the bottom can offer little for long term growth potential. It is the creation of goods and services which creates wealth, not consumption of those things which does it.
It takes experienced people with good business acumen and insight to develop the products that establish long term growth and potential. These people are exclusively not members of the bottom , and if we wish to benefit from their expertise we better be willing to pay them for their efforts.
Even when new technologies are developed by brilliant young people from prestigious universities, let’s use Google as example, the driving forces that provide capital and advice come from the established ranks at the top of our hierarchies, not the bottom.
When we invest in the bottom with tax credits and other giveaways, we don’t develop the sort of intellectual property which has value and makes wealth. These cash expenditures are a one shot stimulus that have no lasting effect.
Wisdom and knowledge is where the wealth is, and those who have it impart it to others by doing business and profiting from those operations. It is profit which points at valuable entities and illuminates a path for wealth creation, ergo, economic growth. This realm is entirely controlled and managed by those at the top , not the bottom. The good thing, however, is this realm is entirely in view, and when working in the vicinity, those at the bottom have full access to the intelligence enshrined there.
As jealousy and envy are the human attributes responsible for much destructive policy, those attributes exist in tension with the desire for self-preservation. To what extent are those at the bottom willing to except pain to punish those they perceive undeservedly at the top?
The real question becomes, will Obama deflect the rods of dissatisfaction hurled by his base demanding fairness in punitive tax policy to insure anemic or non-existent economic growth maintaining hardship for those disaffected spear-chuckers, or will he walk the prudent path and sacrifice more reward to the wealthy to insure that they do their part in growing the economy to provide jobs and opportunity?
One wonders, if he had to do it over again, would Woodrow Wilson have ventured to appease Henry Cabot Lodge insuring US membership in the League of Nations satisfying what he viewed to be his pinnacle achievement, or would he maintain the arrogance of his ego to guarantee his failure?
Will Obama give up fairness and failure for prudence and success?
Copyright 2008 Jim Pontillo