In the film classic The Wizard of Oz, the munchkins of the kingdom were enthralled by the mysterious origins of the wizard and allowed him to rule over them. And, of course, he commanded the hapless Dorothy and her crew to do all sorts of impossible deeds. The wizard knew the magic of media, and used staged interview sessions, with bells and whistles galore, to enhance his air of authority and to disguise his actual lack of competence.
When it comes to today’s economy, we are living in a similarly bizarre world. The credentialed elites of Washington DC, led by President Obama, treat us like munchkins and command impossible deeds. We will do regulation on steroids, and, you, Dorothy, are to get everything done. We will break up the health care system and rearrange it in our wizardly wisdom. We will spend and borrow massively to implement our grand vision of society. You will persevere in the impossible circumstances we have created and if by some miracle you achieve the goals we have imposed on you, well, we can give you…nothing.
People wonder if there is any way out of the economic trap we are living through, with its high unemployment, low growth and spiraling sense of malaise. Ever the optimist, I think there is. Our situation today looks a lot like the immediate post-World War II environment, where an exhausted public faced an uncertain future after more than a decade of extreme government interventionism, first the New Deal and then the wartime command economy. There was a tremendous hunger for normalcy- to do things, make things, get a decent job, spend one’s money without government interference, to pursue happiness in accord with the great Declaration that launched this American experiment. Once the voters, haltingly under Truman and decisively under Eisenhower, insisted that the dead hand of government overreach be removed, the resulting prosperity took everyone by surprise.
Opportunity is knocking again. Look at the choice being offered in this election. Think about it. Hard. And vote!