Incompetent – Ideologue
These two words, Incompetent and Ideologue, are often used by the President’s detractors to categorize his actions, or his lack of action. The two different adjectives, however, would lead one to two very different ultimate assessments of the legacy for this President at the end of his first term. For the sake of this article, assume that the major issues facing America are, an economic recession with rapidly increasing deficits; high unemployment hovering around 10%; increasing medical costs driven primarily by Medicare/Medicaid; the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill; high levels of illegal immigration; and increased instability in the Middle East (Iranian nuclear arms, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc), to pick just the top 6. The list could be a lot longer and everyone’s priorities may differ..
Fast forward to the end of his first term in office, January, 2013.
Incompetent: According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Incompetent is defined as ; 1) Not Legally Qualified (probably does not fit if he was born in Hawaii); (2) inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose: (might fit their definition) (3) a : lacking the qualities needed for effective action b : unable to function properly (probably closer to their option of the President) If those that describe the President as incompetent are correct, the negative outcomes for these 6 challenges would only be mitigated to any degree by luck!
Economic Recession & Increasing Deficits: If the President is incompetent, he may actually stumble into a solution, or not take any actions at all, that may allow the economy to begin to rebound and create positive growth in the private sector. These same actions/inactions, if coupled with a change in his current propensity to spend, could actually slow the growth in the deficits through decreased spending and increased revenue do to private section growth. If his incompetence drives him to raise taxes and continue to spend at the same rate we are today, then the current recession will continue indefinitely and the deficit as a percentage of GDP will rapidly escalate to 100%.
High Unemployment at 10% or above: This is obviously tied to some degree to the Economic Recession and to some degree the deficit levels. However, it is very susceptible to changes in public policy as well. If the President is incompetent, and thus takes no action or cannot decide on any course of action, and thus does not add more jobs in the public sector or do anything to further exacerbate private sector jobs, the jobs number could see sustainable growth in the private sector as long as the recession subsides and real growth occurs. If the President is incompetent and continues to push spending that only sustains or increases public sector jobs, like the current “stimulus plan”, the private sector unemployment could increase dramatically and not improve for a very long period of time. A further downturn in private sector employment will also drive federal, state and local tax revenues down while unemployment and other safety net program costs up at all levels of government. The result is a long term sustained recession.
Increased Medical Costs: The most rapid cost increase in healthcare is currently being driven by Medicare and Medicaid. With the passage of the heath care bill, we will soon be able to include the costs of this program, one trillion dollars plus, to the increases in medical costs. If the President is incompetent, and he and his administration cannot create the bureaucracy and the infrastructure needed to administrate the health care programs, we may see a postponement of the cost of this program in the near term which may provide some spending relief and slow the growth of the deficit. This lack of competence could, however, cause serious confusion in health care delivery to the providers and to the consumers. If he is incompetent and keeps adding programs, union perks, etc to the current health care bill, then medical costs could increase at a faster rate with even more pressure on the economy.
Gulf of Mexico Spill: If the President is incompetent, we could see the cleanup efforts prolonged to the end of this decade. The only mitigating factor to counteract incompetence in this disaster is Mother Nature. Given enough time, she will eventually clean up our mess herself! The long term ecological/economical impacts on the gulf would be fairly dramatic but she does not need to ask the EPA’s permission to do what she needs to do. If he is incompetent and throws up barriers to the cleanup process, or tries to come up with untried methodologies, he will prolong the cleanup.
Illegal Immigration: If his is incompetent, and does not take any federal action to secure the boarder nor engineer changes to our current immigration laws, chaos will ensue at the borders and could lead to a border war, between individual states and the government of Mexico, or at the very least the arming of private citizen militias to protect persons and property along the border. If he is incompetent and “pardons” the current illegal immigrants in this country, then this policy could provide further incentive for increased illegal immigration. This action would also create a very deep animosity between US citizens and pardoned illegal immigrants. Incompetence in dealing with this problem could create a whole host of new problems that would make our current illegal immigration problem seem trite.
Middle East Instability: If the President is incompetent, he may think that to create peace in the region that Israel must be weakened with a corresponding strengthening of Hamas, Iran, Iraq, and Hezbollah. If he is incompetent, he may continue to take ineffective action or no action against Iran’s nuclear program as we did under the Bush Administration. There is no upside to incompetence when dealing with this region. A weak Israel opens the door to Hamas, Iran, Iraq, and Hezbollah and will cause the moderate Arab countries to arm to counteract the threat from these entities. The end result could be a very unstable and dangerous region that controls a large amount of the world’s energy supply.
Incompetence does have the potential for being mitigated by external forces, or if it causes the President not to take any action at all, inaction can actually be stabilizing.
Ideologue: According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, an Ideologue is defined as (1) an impractical idealist : theorist; (2) an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology. For the purposes of this article we will need to frame out a possible ideology that may be applied to the President. Since there are a whole range of ideologies that have been attributed to the President’s policy behavior, rather than try to use labels, we will ascribe to him the beliefs that big government is good; big business must be rigidly controlled; that people are not innately good and cannot be trusted with their own welfare; and that the US Constitution is a “flawed” document (his words) and needs to be made to conform to more perfect governing document. An ideologue’s actions are controlled by his set of beliefs and his decisions will be dictated, not guided, by these beliefs. Anyone who departs from these beliefs either does not understand them or is a person or thing that needs to be dealt with. There is no gray area with an ideologue and there is no room for negotiation. The ideologue will even limit his own personal well being or success to sustain the ideology. The following describes how an ideologue would view and react to the same set of major events discussed above.
Economic Recession & Increasing Deficits: This type of ideologue will hold tightly to Keynesian economic principals advocating that the government enact fiscal and monetary policy to increase employment and spending. They view that the only way to stimulate economic growth is through growth in the public sector and government controlled growth in the private sector. This type of ideologue will push for more and more spending if their current levels of spending are not generating positive results on the economy. With an ideologue, there is no room for luck. They will follow their beliefs to the grave and take everyone along with them.
If the President is an ideologue, he will continue to increase spending, suspend published budgets to curb public outcry, and try to create more and more public sector jobs as the catalyst for economic growth in the overall economy. This will result in a rapid acceleration towards the deficit becoming 100% of GDP; very likely inflation will increase to 8-10% as the currency is expanded without a corresponding good or service being created; interest rates will follow inflation due to the expanded public debt which will compete with private borrowing. These impacts will stifle growth in the private sector causing GDP to stagnate or drop further exacerbating the GDP:Deficit ratio.
High Unemployment at 10% or above: Since the ideologue is committed to the actions in the prior section, private companies will not expand in the US and small businesses will not be able to sustain themselves. This will cause the ideologue to spend more and create more public sector jobs. Overall this will drive unemployment up which could hit 16-20% in the next 3 years.
Increased Medical Costs: The ideologue will tightly control the health care industry and actually nationalize this industry in the end. A single payer system is the end game. This expansion into health care services will provide the perfect platform to drive controls over individual behavior as everything we do can impact our heath. What types of foods we eat; what manufacturers use to produce food products; how much we should eat; a whole new sets of regulations for fast food restaurants and other forms of food service establishments; and the list will go on. The result may be a health care delivery system that becomes too expensive rapidly that leads to a prioritization of services by the government with increased government oversight. Bans on fast foods, salts, meat with more than X% fat and so on. Since the programs will be for the common good, there should not be any limits on how much “good” we are provided.
Gulf of Mexico Spill: If the President is an ideologue from am anti fossil fuel/environmental perspective, the oil spill will not cleaned up any time soon. Maximum damage will be allowed to impact the Gulf until bans on off shore drilling are in place permanently. This could even extend to land based drilling. The ideologue would also push programs such as Cap and Trade to limit the consumption of fossil fuels and create other environmental “safeguards” to limit how much, when and if we are allowed to even use fossil fuels. The ideologue would see the sacrifice of the Gulf as worth it in the end if resulted in no more drilling and increased regulation on fossil fuels and the enactment of Cap and Trade types of legislation.
Illegal Immigration: If the President is an ideologue in the sense that he sees the US as inherently bad and in need of transformation, he would use illegal immigrants as a source of new votes to sustain the ideologue and the administration in office. With an overnight block of 13+ million minority supporters, he would use this group to further lessen the grip of the “majority” on this country. He would unite other minorities behind this cause for the overall good of minorities even though it may be a bad choice for the individuals who make up the minority. For example, if the African-American community joins to make illegal immigrants citizens and encourages more of this type of unfettered immigration, then the job pool is filled with more applicants at a time when African-Americans are among the highest unemployed group in the US. The ideologue also sees a need to bring American down to the level of other less fortunate countries. By placing increased public sector pressure on the economy by having to expand welfare and other taxpayer paid services for poorer immigrants, the redistribution of wealth/property can be accelerated.
Middle East Instability: If the President is an ideologue, and believes that the US is too powerful and should be made to be on a more level playing field with the rest of the world, he would view Israel in the same light. He would view Iran’s nuclear program as a counterbalance in the region and also to EUROPE. He may even lower the defensive capabilities of our allies in the middle east and Europe to insure that everyone is equal and mutually threatened in order to eliminate any one country or group of countries from becoming dominant. The end result is a very dangerous world. The ideologue is naïve in his thinking as what was created was not a counterbalance at all. A counterbalance could only exist if both parties in a dispute are equally NOT disposed to use nuclear weapons. Iran has already stated that Israel is their first target and they will have capabilities to launch on Europe when needed. The ideologue will also push for disarmament of the leading nuclear powers and will do it unilaterally if necessary to prove his point…
So, those critics of the President who thinks he is incompetent are actually the optimists among his detractors. Incompetence can be overcome by luck to some degree as well as by the inability of the incompetent person to act. The lack of action can provide some breathing room for a situation to take care of itself to some degree. The other possibility for hope with an incompetent person is that they may listen to someone who can actually help to rectify a situation. The incompetent will make the right decision part of the time by mere chance!
The critics that think he is an ideologue are the pessimists. You cannot change an ideologue in the long term. You can try to contain them, try to circumvent them, or try to stop them altogether. But, remember, the ideologue does not play by the same rules as you do. The end ALWAYS justifies the means. The means can be ignoring the US Constitution and all of the checks and balances that were built into the three branches of the government. The Constitution does not matter as it should be “subservient to the needs of the people”.