Christopher Hitchens is one of the few on the Left to have mounted a consistent attack on President Clinton. Known for his admirable turns of phrase, the polemicist has described Bill Clinton’s ramblings as failing to “adhere to the cortex of a thinking human being.” Tellingly, the title of Hitchens’s book about Bill Clinton is No One Left to Lie to. Not quite true, if to judge by the positive response to the President’s final address to the Democratic convention last week. Clearly, the Clinton flubs have not yet worn thin.
When all is said and done, Americans do owe a debt of gratitude to Clinton’s sustained program of non-achievement. Sufficiently hands-off (I’m being cynical) in the economic sphere, at least, Clinton allowed American private enterprise to create prosperity, a feat it achieves with approximately 50 percent of the country’s resources at its disposal; federal, state and local government appropriates the remainder.
But to hear Clinton tell it, the good times are owed to his voracious government. The prosperity, now in its 18th year, began in fact during the Reagan era, in the early 1980s. Backed by data from the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists Lawrence Kudlow and Stephen Moore show that Reagan’s policies of marginal tax rate cuts, trade globalization, including the NAFTA agreement, and deregulation of key industries, are among the measures that unleashed a wave of “entrepreneurial-technological innovation that transformed and restructured the economy.” The result has been the longest business cycle expansion in US history.
Prior to Reaganomics, the US market had been in a slump due to the “stagflation and anti-market Keynesian” policies, Keynes being the economist whose errors were the raison d’être for government intervention. While unleashing a torrent of choleric abuse from US pseudo-intellectuals, Reagan’s less intrusive fiscal policies and lower tax rates bolstered the US economy to such an extent that it would slump only a record 6 out of 200 months in the decades of Reaganomics.
The Republican Congress, moreover, is owed gratitude for squeezing from Clinton welfare reforms, a balanced budget bill and tax cuts. And to providence thanks must be given for aborting Hillary’s putsch for a Soviet-style health care plan, the kind only Canada and her North Korean and Cuban fellow purists still enforce.
Legislation that infringes property, and in particular freedom of contract, is one of the most poisonous arrows in the quiver of the Nanny State. Much of the puffery of the Clinton speech fell to this category. The Family and Medical Leave Act meddles on behalf of one party to a contract against the other, by arrogating to millions of Americans the right to take time off work “to care for a new born or sick loved one,” while forcing their employers to shoulder the costs. Notwithstanding the violation of freedom of contract and association, compelling employers to pay for arrangements that should strictly be left to the individual and family, is an extension of the Clinton belief in family values by State proxy.
To the same category belongs the minimum wage increase which had the President swelling with pride. Such legislation circumvents voluntary exchange in the market. Because government has fixed the price of labour, adults are prevented from engaging in mutually beneficial and voluntary exchange. Still less is the hike justified because it impoverishes: Government can bid wages above market value, but it cannot compel business to hire, the outcome of which is unemployment among the young and the poor.
On the proverbial road to hell, armed with good deeds, marches Tipper Gore, Al Gore’s wife. Mrs. Gore, who had pride of place in Clinton’s speech, is his mental health advisor and point person for legislation intended to ensure that mental health coverage is on par with surgical and medical benefits. By ridiculously broadening the definition of mental illness, parity policy ensures that the capacious victim industry will continue to metastasize. Again, this legislation runs smack up against property rights: By threatening to eliminate a provision that permits employers to opt out of providing mental health coverage, business will, in effect, be prohibited from protecting its interests.
Clinton’s most preposterous claim is to have been a beacon for peace among nations. “Bomber Bill”, as the contrarian Hitchens dubbed him, never shied away from unleashing the warplanes on unpopular nations at opportune times in his libidinal career. Clinton Wagged the Dog over both Iraq and Serbia, to say nothing of bombing a Sudanese pharmaceutical company that turned out to be the main manufacturer of medicines and vaccinations in Sudan. But it was in its efforts on behalf of “our children” that the Clinton administration distinguished itself: Elian Gonzales’s terror-struck face and the charred little bodies of Waco spring to mind.
©2000 By Ilana Mercer
The Calgary Herald