Jonah Goldberg

Oh, but what about all his innovative ideas for green energy: faster trains local governments don't want and electric cars consumers won't buy? The New York Times reports that the electric car "has long been recognized as the ideal solution" because it is "cleaner and quieter" and "much more economical." The Times reported that in 1911. Obama has turned his back on nuclear power while investing massively in a technological breakthrough pioneered by Heron of Alexandria in the first century: the windmill.

There's a bizarre double standard in public policy debates that treats Keynesian spending binges as a cutting-edge and novel approach while casting free market reforms of entitlement programs as throwbacks to the horse and buggy age.

"Everybody's watching what's going on in Beijing right now with the Olympics," Obama said while campaigning in 2008. "Think about the amount of money that China has spent on infrastructure. Their ports, their train systems, their airports are all vastly superior to us now, which means if you are a corporation deciding where to do business you're starting to think, 'Beijing looks like a pretty good option.'"

First of all, that's nonsense. Our infrastructure is vastly superior to China's. For instance, we have more than 11 times as many airports with paved runways as they do. China's Olympic stadium is falling apart, unused today. Far more disturbing is the fact that Obama looks at the huge economic strides made in China since it adopted market-based reforms and concludes that what we should learn from the communists is to drop more money on vast state-run boondoggles. That's just weird.

It also illustrates the real problem with how the self-described inhabitants of the "reality-based community" see the world. They sincerely see government as a key generator of innovation.

Obviously, government can help -- spending money on basic research and the like. Beyond that, government far more often serves to stifle innovation and insulate itself from new ideas created by the market. That's what public-sector unions -- one of Obama's core constituencies -- do. Whether it's health care, education or manufacturing, government retards new ideas and makes innovation more expensive, or impossible. But it does excel in one department: finding new ways to claim that old ideas are new.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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