The Outstater

September 30, 2021

The Biden Difference

CONSERVATIVES CAN STOP scoffing at Joe Biden’s statement that his $3 trillion-plus spending plan won’t cost anything. The rest of the world, and increasingly large numbers of Americans, think the same way.

What he means is it won’t cost the government anything. That is because he intends to raise taxes to pay for it, and as his press secretary explained earlier this week it would be “unfair and absurd” for businesses to pass that cost down to customers.

These people are idiots, not comedians.

But their assumption, again, is widely shared. Indeed, it is the default setting, i.e., that governments ultimately own everything and have the authority to determine which of their citizens have behaved well enough to access some of it. Forcing citizens to receive inoculations is a no-brainer for them.

There are differences in degree and application, but that is how Mexico is run, how France is run, Germany is run, the Middle East, sub-Sahara Africa and of course China — everywhere except in what Dan Hannan of the British House of Lords has aptly called the Anglosphere, a group of economic miracles including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Outside that sphere you are free only to do what the government of the moment allows. But inside the sphere you are free to do whatever a historic constitution hasn’t specifically proscribed.

Big difference. It is why why Singapore is not Indonesia, why Hong Kong is not China, It is why Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere despite more than $13 billion in international aid in the past decade, is not the Dominican Republic.

And don’t think this is just over-the-horizon stuff. If you have followed your Indiana city council these past few years,, Republican or Democrat, you will have noticed it is more and more in the Biden model than in the Hannan one. Businesses and individuals increasingly must wait for a council to decide whether this or that is OK.

The Indianapolis City Council recently threw the housing market there into confusion by overturning a zoning decision unfavorable to “affordable” housing. Property rights? The Indianapolis Star this morning labeled those opposed to plopping low-income subsidized housing in your neighborhood as being on “the dark side.” 

Development and housing values are on hold wherever that sentiment prevails.

It is no surprise that all of this is acceptable to the media; it makes covering politics so much easier. Our local newspaper rarely feels compelled to report the rationale of those on the losing side of a vote. Whatever the council rules, you see, like some sort of politburo, is the important news, not the democratic-constitutional discussion surrounding it.

Thus Nancy Pelosi can say we will have to wait until the 5,593-page spending bill is passed to find out what’s in it. She isn’t being flip. She means it.

So there’s nothing funny about any of this. Yes, Joe Biden is one of the duller tools in the Washington shed but he has proved to be a good mimic of the nation’s mood. — tcl


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