Hillary and Geek Pride

Government is not the solution to anything.

We stand amazed at Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention.  She accurately pointed out that America faces a host of problems, we expected that from the opposition, but wonder of wonders, she told us the right answer to our problems:

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges, leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

She got that spot on.

We've known for a long time that Hillary is an extremely smart person.  She may not have any actual experience with governing, but she's been involved with government, she's lived off of government, she's become rich because of her connections to government, she's been in and around government for a long, long time.  She lives and breathes governance.  She realizes that we have problems, everybody knows that, but to thunderous applause she declared that government is not the solution.

Read what she said again, slowly:

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges, leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

The last president who tapped into American optimism was Ronald Reagan.  Mr. Reagan made Americans feel good about America, partly by praising our "animal spirits."  The hostages came home, our people innovated, the economy grew, and the Evil Empire went chapter 7.

The first President Bush, Mr. Reagan's successor, had trouble with "the vision thing;" he wasn't much of a cheerleader.  Mr. Clinton, despite being able to exude empathy, was a policy wonk and didn't offer much encouragement to innovators or to businessmen.

Our friends high up in the federal bureaucracy praise Clinton's accomplishments in streamlining government administration, but like Hillary, he believed in government solutions to problems.  No matter how creative Mr. Clinton may have been in streamlining government procedures, however, streamlined government procedures don't increase our energy supplies.

One of the reasons Hillarycare sank without trace was that it was so government-centric.  Give government too much power over health care and the FDA tries to ban cough syrup.

Government Is Not the Solution

Reagan spoke for large numbers of Americans when he said in his First Inaugural Address:

Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

In an echo of something we can easily imagine Reagan saying, Hillary is completely correct in asserting that the solution lies in encouraging American ingenuity and not in expanding government.

Having gotten the right answer, though, Hillary took it all back in the very next paragraph of her speech:

Now, this will not be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight to put a Democrat back into the White House.

How in the name of bureaucracy can we make any progress through innovation with a Democrat in the White House?  Democrats aren't interested in making progress, they're interested in making programs.

When Mr. Romney was contesting for Sen. Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat, he challenged Mr. Kennedy to list his accomplishments.  All Mr. Kennedy could do was list government programs he'd advocated.  Alas, the voters of the People's Republic of Taxachusetts preferred government programs to actual accomplishments; Chappaquiddick Ted was returned to the seat he's held since Elvis was the king of rock-'n-roll.

When Hillary was challenged to list her accomplishments, as opposed to standing around watching her husband's accomplishments, she listed all the programs she'd advocated, as if she thought her hearers would believe that advocacy alone counted for something.

Government programs as favored by Democrats retard progress; government programs generally hold back innovation.  The Economist has explained how government restrictions have reduced the American share of the market for launching satellites to the point that "America's space industry is now so vulnerable in places that national security is threatened - which is precisely the outcome the legislation sought to avoid."

Democrats pass laws that make it more expensive to hire workers; jobs move overseas or go underground into the twilight world of illegal employment.  Democrats stop us from drilling for our own oil; how does that promote American ingenuity?  Democrats want to spend billions on government-managed energy research despite government's abysmal track record in promoting genuine innovation, as opposed to producing pointless peer-reviewed papers and power-point conferences.

Geek Pride and the Market

I have a good friend who's an uber Geek.  He's been involved in starting more than 100 companies, some of which became large companies which provided lots of jobs and paid lots of taxes.  He was attending a meeting of the state technology council, and the governor, a Democrat, showed up with a number of his top aides.

The governor wasn't really interested in technology, he seems to have been there on a pro forma basis looking for photo-ops.  He and his aides spent the time talking about their chances of getting this law passed or starting that program to Save the World and maybe get him re-elected.

Someone told the governor he ought to greet my friend.  "What do you and your friends need from government?" the governor asked, rather like Mr. Obama asking my social network about the support businesses need from government.

"What my friends and need from government is mostly to have you get out of the way and let us alone," my friend told the governor.  "You keep passing all kinds of laws which make it more and more difficult to start new businesses and to try new things."

He told the governor about his friend's new method of treating any and all cancers with low-frequency radiation.  It's being tested in China because the FDA won't let it be tested here; it won't pass peer review.

He told the governor about another friend who tried to refurbish an old mill building into office space to provide jobs in a moribund small town.  Once this would-be entrepreneur found out what it would cost to meet the requirements of the EPA, ADA, OSHA, and all the other alphabet-soup agencies who have oversight of office buildings, he walked away.  The unoccupied building remains a hazardous attractive nuisance; federal rules make it too expensive even to pull it down.

He reminded the governor that our founders complained that King George had "sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance" - hardly a day goes by but what a new and worse impediment to ingenuity and innovation comes to light.

Alas, it will surprise no one to hear that the governor walked away shaking his head, an unchanged man.  As Winston Churchill said, "Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on as if nothing had happened."

Geek Pride and the Government

My friend and his colleagues are justly proud of the jobs they've created, the contributions they've made to our society, the neat gadgets they've built, and yes, even the taxes they've paid; they understand that government has to be funded somehow.  What they can't handle is all the rules and regulations which come from an unholy alliance of liberal Democrats and an ambitious, innovative bureaucracy.

Hillary is completely correct in identifying the solution to our problems.  Once more:

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges, leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

She's completely correct in saying that with the right leaders, there is no limit to what's possible in America, but Mr. Obama isn't the right leader.

Which candidate understands not only that we need innovation, but also knows how to get it?  John McCain.  Instead of advocating pouring more money down the government-funded rat hole, he wants to offer prizes for solving problems.

That's innovative!  That's a change we can believe in, that's a change that would actually work.  Take all the research money from the National Science Foundation, the Center for Disease Control, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and offer tax-free prizes which are paid out only for working, workable solutions.

Redirecting the funding in that way would solve a lot of very real problems, but it won't happen with a Democrat in the White House.  A Democrat in the White House will raise taxes, waste more money on government programs, and drive more and more innovation overseas like my friend's cancer treatment which is being tested in China.

Don't worry, you'll be able to have your cancer treated, courtesy of Boeing and Airbus; the Chinese government loves medical tourists as much as it loves sports tourists.  But once they perfect it, the technology will never come back to the United States, you can count on that.

Hillary's an amazingly compelling leader; her followers continue to follow her even after she's asked them to support her rival.  It's really too bad that the unpromised land of yet more government control to which she wants to lead us is so inhospitable to life as we know it.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Bureaucracy.
Reader Comments
I think what you saw in that speech was Hillary skating the line between officially endorsing Obama and subliminally reminding everyone that he has no experience. It seems she already has her sights set on 2012.
August 28, 2008 8:52 AM
For what it's worth, I thought the exact same thing as Ben.

One of the MSM papers picked up on that too. They said something like: "Hillary endorses Obama but really doesn't".
August 28, 2008 9:02 AM
jib jab has weighed in again...

August 29, 2008 9:22 AM
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