Is Barack Obama Inexperienced, Unintelligent, or Both?

Because his ideas are known not to work.

Having watched Candidate Obama make proposals which destroyed jobs and harmed job creation, we at Scragged have come to believe that Mr. Obama's team has spent so long in politics that, never having had to meet a payroll, they have no idea how the private sector operates.

On October 13, 2008, RTT News reported "a new proposal" by Candidate Obama:

The proposal includes tax credits for companies making new hires, rules to allow people to take money out of certain restricted retirement accounts and a foreclosure moratorium for homeowners. [emphasis added]

"To fuel the real engine of job creation in this country, I've also proposed eliminating all capital gains taxes on investments in small businesses and start-up companies, and I've proposed an additional tax incentive through next year to encourage new small business investment," Obama said.

One of our articles explained how the Candidate's earlier statements about his plans to increase capital gains taxes resulted in small business jobs disappearing; people pay attention to what candidates say and even more attention to what Presidents say.  On Jan 8, 2009, MSNBC reported that tax credits for new hires disappeared from the "porkulus" package due to opposition from Democrats:

Sen John Kerry, D-Mass., said, "I'd rather spend the money on the infrastructure, on direct investment, on energy conversion, on other kinds of things that much more directly, much more rapidly and much more certainly create a real job." [emphasis added]

We've deplored our elected officials' belief that when they cut taxes so you get to keep more of your income, they've spent money that rightful belongs to them.  Mr. Kerry didn't believe that rewarding private businesses for hiring people whose salary would be paid by the business would create jobs; he'd rather spend money on infrastructure where government pays the entire salary.  He didn't mention the minor detail that the unionized workers and contractors who build infrastructure understand that they're expected to make campaign contributions to help him get re-elected.

This Has All Happened Before...

Let's consider the impact of Mr. Obama's talking about a "new hire" tax credit.  Any business that was thinking of hiring anyone would stop immediately.

Why?  Because if they created a new job now, they wouldn't get the tax credit.  Any sensible business would wait until the rules were clarified.

Older business-folk know full well the effect of Presidential chatter.

Thirty-three years ago, I was employed by a solar energy start-up.  Owens-Illinois made miles and miles of fluorescent lights every year by coating glass tubes with chemicals and wiring up electric power.  With a different coating, the tubes absorb solar energy.  Run a pipe to the tube instead of wires, and the tubes heat water.

Our solar collectors looked like fish skeletons with a pipe down the center; glass pipes run up and down from the central pipe.  Pump water through the skeleton, and viola! hot water to run through your heating system.

The computers of the day were too expensive; we developed one of the first microprocessor-based control systems to control our invention.  We tested the system through a winter to make sure it would work, and indeed it did.

Mr. Carter became President on Jan 20, 1977, in the midst of an energy crisis.  On April 18, he delivered a speech saying that he'd make proposals to Congress.

Two days from now, I will present my energy proposals to the Congress.  Its members will be my partners and they have already given me a great deal of valuable advice.  Many of these proposals will be unpopular.  Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices.

The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe.  Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation.

Presidents always threaten doom if their ideas aren't adopted; Mr. Carter declared the energy crisis to be the Moral Equivalent Of War (MEOW).

As our sales force fanned out to sell solar energy, President Carter said that solar energy would receive a tax credit.  From that moment, customers slammed their doors in our faces.  We were told to come back when the credit passed and we could show that our system met the conditions for getting the credit.  Sales stalled.

We sold a system to a new and trendy underground school in VirginiaAs in the present day, Middle Eastern oil powers were interested in technologies that would support them when the oil ran out.  The Saudis funded the $625,000 solar energy system when the National Science Foundation turned down the grant request.  Nobody expected the solar system to pay for itself; the town wanted "green cred" without paying for it.

Customers started to talk to us once the tax credit was in place, but there was a problem - the sun doesn't always shine.  A building can store a month's worth of energy in a small oil tank; storing that much energy requires a huge hot water tank.  Even if you assume that you need to store only a couple of days worth of heat, it's still a very large water tank.

Most businesses decided they'd need a conventional heating system in addition to the solar system; solar systems need backup.  Including the cost of the backup system, solar heating wasn't economical even with the tax credit.

There was a happy ending, however, for the investors if not for the greens.  Many building managers who rejected our solar system liked the controller that went with it.  They wanted to buy the controller to operate their conventional system.  Clever programming cut energy use, reduced maintenance, and, best of all, the building engineer got more sleep.

"Sunkeeper" renamed itself "Andover Controls" and went on to create many, many jobs, no thanks to the Carter Credit.

And It Will All Happen Again

There are a number of lessons which could be learned:

  • Whenever a politician proposes a tax credit, everything goes on hold until the rules shake out; nobody wants to miss a credit by moving too fast.
  • Solar energy has problems which have yet to be solved despite 40 years more effort.  We still have no way to store or transmit large quantities of energy.
  • Changing energy consumption on a national scale is extremely difficult.  Mr. Carter's Department of Energy spent billions and billions of dollars meowing about the Moral Equivalent Of War with essentially nothing to show for it.  As the acronym would imply, what we bought was less of a mighty roar than a pitiful mew.
  • Politicians won't support anything that doesn't benefit them. Ethanol and infrastructure subsidies result in campaign contributions like any other earmark; community development grants register voters who vote for them.  Tax credits for small business don't yield campaign contributions because small firms can't afford to make campaign contributions.
  • As a whole, the American people know that Mr. Obama's ideas are meant to help politicians, not the economy.  That's why every time he opens his mouth or signs a new law, stocks go down and more people get laid off.

President Carter spoke of "energy independence" instead of "green jobs," but President Obama faces exactly the same energy-related issues Mr. Carter faced thirty years ago.  Why should anyone believe that the billions we're proposing to spend today will make any more difference than the billions spent under President Carter?

Inexperienced, Unintelligent, or Trapped in the System?

Which brings us to our question about President Obama's intelligence.  Mr. Carter could tell President Obama how the Carter tax credits and energy investments worked out, or rather didn't; the only difference between President Obama's proposals and Mr. Carters' is that President Obama speaks more eloquently of his and looks rather better in a sweater.

Some of us at Scragged believe that Mr. Obama is a highly intelligent, but inexperienced, man who doesn't realize that his wonderful notions are already known not to work; he's never encountered the Real World of earning money and none of his few friends who have will tell him so.

Others believe that he's advocating old, unworkable ideas because he's not intelligent enough to realize that his ideas won't work and again, his people won't tell him assuming that some of them know.

Yet another group believes that even if he has new, workable ideas, he's caught in a dysfunctional Washington system which can't do anything other than waste money no matter who's in the White House.

What do you think?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments
Carter was actually extremely intelligent. He did his graduate work in mathematics, worked on nuclear submarines in the US Navy and earned numerous awards. Carter's problem was that he was too involved in the details and didn't know how to lead. He studied problems for too long and couldn't make a decision.

Obama nothing like Carter. Obama has been quick to lead the country exactly where he wants it to go with little regard for the longterm effects.

There's no question he inexperienced.

I say Obama is unintelligent because

a) He's never demonstrated any academic intelligence. Math, science, literature, etc.

b) His "heroes" are failed enterprises like the Canadian and British health system. Read his book.

c) He is preparing future political victories with deceptive numbers that aren't nearly deceptive enough.

d) In thousands of campaign appearances, he was never one time able to explain WHY Bush's policies had failed, only that they had. Anyone can say you're a failure, it takes someone with intelligence to say WHY.

e) Obama has demonstrated that he's going to use sneak attacks to push his agenda. Sneak assaults are no longer possible. The alternative media stopped those more than decade ago. Obama, supposedly, understands technology and the internet, but he still thinks sneak attacks are possible? The blogs tear apart and analyze everything he and his administration say or do within seconds of having done it. If he's planning on using sneak attacks, that's just more evidence that he's an idiot.

So far, his golden tongue and his media friends have spared his mental capacity any real scrutiny. Will that last?
March 2, 2009 9:57 AM
I think Mr Offensicht gives the Messiah too much credit in the last paragraph, actually, and doesn't consider the possibility that the Messiah is in fact pure evil. I think he's more than intelligent enough to understand that his policies and tactics will not restore health and employment and productivity to the economy. The problem is that a healthy, robust economy - which has as its chief prerequisite personal and economic freedom - is not his objective!

He clearly plans to do everything he can to do away with as much personal and economic freedom as he can possibly manage and to bring the entire economy to its knees (I predicted a 3,500 DOW in October) so as to ratchet up as much monolithic government dominance in all possible facets of American life. And as we all know, once established, government influence never EVER goes away.
March 2, 2009 10:40 PM
You are both correct and incorrect, Brother John, in saying that government dominance NEVER goes away. It NEVER goes away voluntarily, to be sure, but it does go away when the society collapses. We are no longer beholden to the apparatchiks of the Roman Empire, for example. They didn't give up power voluntarily, TBS, but they're gone anyway.

This is a familiar cycle - when government gets too overweening the society collapses. Mr. Obama is taking us into the abyss of the Confucian Cycle:

We've documented many aspects of this.
March 2, 2009 10:53 PM
I believe that President Obama is trying to make capitalism fail (or appear to) so that we Americans will embrace socialism as the only way out.
March 3, 2009 10:39 AM
To lfon's point: He speaks beautifully, but that doesn't mean he's smart -- in fact, I'd suggest that speaking beautifully might be an indicator of lack of intelligence, just like being physically beautiful is. Not necessarily because there is a physical lack of intelligence, that the IQ is lower etc., but because there was never a need to develop it. If you never have a need to think critically, to actually build that experience because you can just skate by without, you may not develop those skills. Instead you know you can just pull out your golden tongue and convince people so you do that to get what you want, you get your information from others, and bypass the action of thinking critically at all.
March 7, 2009 12:47 PM
to rearden:

A friend of mine was studying for the ministry. The seminary had a deal with the local maximum-security jail for students to visit to learn what that segment of society was like.

One of his female classmates looked around a while and said," So this is where so many handsome men end up."

Cops will tell you that the "con" of "convict" means they'll try to con you. After visiting the jail a few more times and talking with the staff, my friend decided that most cons were able to talk their way out of problems so well that they never had to learn how to behave. They went to jail when they did something they couldn't talk their way out of.

I shudder to imagine what will come up that Mr. Obama can't talk his way out of.
March 7, 2009 1:01 PM
@rearden and sam

Excellent point being made. Intelligence is the capacity to learn but that capacity ITSELF has a rate of change, relative to how often it's used.

Obama is unintelligent and his speaking and conning skills are contributing to that the older he gets.
March 7, 2009 3:43 PM
This site agrees with you:
March 7, 2009 7:25 PM
Ummm.... no. I don't think Obama's color has anything to do with his intelligence. That site is a racist FAIL.

It's stupid crap like that which makes it so hard to point out Obama's stupidities - as soon as anyone tries to, the Dems play the race card. Hence the great big free pass to the Oval Office he got.
March 7, 2009 8:13 PM
I did not say that you agree with that site. Only that they agree with you. That is unquestionably true. So, umm.... yes.
March 8, 2009 9:30 AM

I'm very interested in your experience in the 70's. What do you think about a STATE level tax credit offering and how that could impact high-performance building availablility, particularly if it was an aggressive CONSERVATION angle instead of a PRODUCTION/CONSUMPTION angle?
June 5, 2009 4:10 PM
In general, state taxes are a lot lower than Federal taxes, so a state tax credit would not be worth as much. Tax credits distort markets as we have recently seen. The RIGHT thing to do is to stop all cross subsidies. If we let prices float, water would triple in price across most of the midwest and people would use it more efficiently. California gives lots of very cheap water to farmers who grow crops in a desert, of all things. That is just one example of price-distorting things government does.
June 5, 2009 10:20 PM
Looks like Dick Morris agrees with me. Obama is not intelligent.

The lipstick is beginning to wash off the pig.
June 2, 2010 11:44 AM
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