Obama Gets Religion?

In a remarkable editorial in the Wall Street Journal, President Obama promised a reduction in the regulatory burden placed upon businesses.  Do we believe him?

I used to think that for all his faults, Obama was at least sincere, not cynical.  Unlike Bill Clinton, who would lie when the truth would work better, Obama has given the appearance of believing in his principles.  Until now.

Forgive me, but people who spend two years dissing business and insulting the rich do not suddenly find religion and praise the very people they found evil only months before.  Obama’s butt-whooping at the polls in November may have sobered him up, but I doubt he has quit drinking.

The President realizes, or says he realizes, that capitalism is the fount of the greatest prosperity the world has ever known.  Well, the words are right, but the qualifiers betray.  Making a better bureaucrat is like making a better serial killer–we have to wonder just what “better” means.  Images of a more neatly groomed crime scene come to mind–all the trappings of goodness masking a site of destruction.

We are told that regulations need to be smarter.  I disagree.  Like stray cats, they need to be neutered.  Even if I were to believe that Obama has sincerely changed his mind about business, I would not be excited.  The gargantuan cobweb of regulatory insanity we now live within is far beyond his presidential reach.  Regulators regulate.  That’s what they do. Like the story of the frog and the scorpion, the end is always the same–things behave according to their nature.

Let us note that we have heard our President.  Let us also grant that there is at least a sliver of hope that he is sincere.  Then let us get back to our real work–rolling back the regulatory state.  We cannot sit idly by while a President, Obama or otherwise, makes speeches to placate business.  We must relentlessly dog our representatives to cut, cut, cut.  We must send people to Congress who actually believe in slashing the size of government and not in delegating authority to know-it-alls in cubicles.  We must do this year after year after year until we become again a nation of individuals pursuing their own happiness as they define it and regulators are in danger of extinction.












About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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3 Responses to Obama Gets Religion?

  1. Deb S. says:

    You are much more forgiving than I. I have given up attempting to excuse or normalize his conflicted speech/action ratio. In my heart of hearts, there is still room to accept this man as sincere; he has only to follow his words with like actions. Until then though, I go on the assumption that his words are simply that and business needs to carry on as though he’s said nothing at all. He is, after all, still a Chicago politician.


  2. Sally Lacy says:

    Terry, I totally agree with you. Things do behave according to their nature. One person’s nature may lean more toward compassion, another’s more toward greed. There are right leanings, left leanings, musical leanings and terrorist leanings, all which tend to align with our core nature as individuals.

    Your timing on this is a little chilling, given the MHSA’s briefing yesterday to the family members of the 29 killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. If there was ever an industry that chafes under regulations and would love to see the regulatory system neutered,this is it. Hopefully Don Blankenship’s (retiring CEO of Massey Coal) record of thumbing his nose at safety regulations, which could have cost his company precious dollars all for the dubious cause of increasing safety for the miners, is common knowledge. It was cheaper for him to pay the fines (time after time after time) than to make the changes in his mines. So all of that coal dust that had built up over time, ignited by sparks from a blunt instrument and not doused by a “required” functioning sprinkler system, turned the Upper Branch Mine into a raging inferno that claimed 29 lives.

    You might say that the coal mining industry represents an extreme example, but what about the trucking industry, the food industry… I think by tacking the word “industry” behind anything, you’re acknowledging that someone is trying to make a profit. So far, so good. Profit is what allows us to put food on out tables and clothes on our kids’ backs. But when you introduce the element of greed, things can get a little messy. At what price profit? And who usually pays that price?

    I work in education. Do I like regulations? No, not particularly. There are too many and some are made by know-nothings in little cubicles. But some, made by other folks in cubicles that do understand the big picture of an industry or service, actually have the potential to move an industry/service forward. For those I am thankful, and if some of my tax dollars could be spent to actually give THOSE regulations some real teeth, all the better. I suspect the families of the 29 in West Virginia would agree.

    Today, the Massey coal company gives their version of what happened in that mine to the families. Wonder if it will be in their nature to give a truthful account of what led up to this tragedy, or to lie and twist facts to cover their butts. I hope they’ll surprise me, but I guess it’s in my nature to be pessimistic.


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