Today I took my father, who is 94, to a routine appointment with his geriatrician, which always begins with the physician assistant, Debbie, taking a history and his vital signs. She pronounced my father’s blood pressure “perfect” at 106/60. Then she said she was especially glad to see this because over the last six months they’ve seen a big jump in the number of their elderly patients with hypertension. Debbie’s career includes Carter’s presidency and I asked her if people are more frightened now than they were then. She said, yes, by a long shot, and added that so many of their patients also are suffering from depression and anxiety that they have added the services of a psychiatrist who specializes in the elderly to come in twice a week to see patients. Debbie said this is a phenomenon she’s never seen before in over 35 years as a physician assistant.
Now, what with this being a conservative blog, you would expect that I would follow this news with a denunciation of the debt bombs — aka stimulus spending — that Obama has been using to destroy America’s economy. So, OK, yes: Obama’s debt bombs are toppling this great nation. They are his fire in the Reichstag.
But it looks to me like the epidemic of illnesses caused by fear and hopelessness began when the 2010 election season kicked into high gear. And since gaining control of the House of Representatives — and thus, the purse strings — rather than fighting the fake stimulus of Keynes with the real stimulus of Hayek, instead Republicans have harped on the the virtues of pain and sacrifice on the part the most vulnerable citizens of our nation: the elderly and the disabled, who are served by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Basically, we have targeted people who do NOT have the ability to WORK to improve their lot even though they DO have the ability to VOTE to that end. So — what could go wrong?
In his column on Obama’s state of the union address, Charles Krauthammer explains (boldfacing mine):
The November election sent a clear message to Washington: less government, less debt, less spending. President Obama certainly heard it, but judging from his State of the Union address, he doesn’t believe a word of it. The people say they want cuts? Sure they do — in the abstract. But any party that actually dares carry them out will be punished severely. On that, Obama stakes his reelection.
What astonishes me is that fiscal conservatism has the tools to fix America’s economy and restore prosperity without attacking entitlements, but fiscal conservatives seldom use them — and we certainly aren’t using them now. So, what we should be doing is filling people with confidence in the future by getting rid of everything that is strangling economic recovery in its cradle — taxes, regulations, debt, boondoggles — and securing our energy independence and our borders and making America a profitable place to manufacture goods once more. The more we talk about how necessary it is to require sacrifices by people who aren’t us, the more we validate the mirror image of this policy, which is the redistribution of wealth — sacrifices by people who aren’t them. Either way, it isn’t sacrifice that is going to save us — it will be American resourcefulness and ambition unleashed.