Victor Davis Hanson

We also hear that oil prices are sky high and our own automobile industry is failing due to windfall profits and corporate greed, but there’s no discussion of the fact that oil-rich autocracies like Russia, Venezuela and the Gulf monarchies have obtained a stranglehold on the global petroleum supply.

For Hillary and Barack, our automobile manufacturing crisis is not the result of uniquely lavish union health and retirement packages for American autoworkers. The government is somehow mostly to blame for Detroit’s meltdown and the energy crisis, not Americans’ own tastes in the 1990s for large gas-guzzlers and big homes, and their concurrent opposition to nuclear power plants, oil drilling off the coasts and in Alaska, and conservation of resources.

Wal-Mart, free trade and our debt to China also come in for blame. Neither Obama nor Clinton suggests that the middle classes of America have more purchasing power and have accumulated more consumer goods than any people in history. In reality, our acquisitiveness is a result not of corporate greed, but of our fondness for shopping at discounted warehouse mega-stores, whose goods are the result of hard work of hundreds of millions of low-paid Chinese. They not only toil long hours to make our cheap televisions and stereos, but their government lends us the money at low interest — through massive buying of U.S. government bonds — to buy their stuff in the first place.

To the extent that we have any social and legal problems from unchecked illegal immigration, it has nothing to do with the cynicism and corruption of the Mexican government that deliberately exports, exploits and profits off its own people. The problem is not the fondness for low-paid, off-the-books illegal labor among the upper-middle classes, nor the disdain for the law of illegal immigrants themselves, who crowd to the front of the immigration line. Instead, America’s xenophobia, blame-casting and insensitive government have made it needlessly rough on 11 million arrivals who otherwise did us a favor by coming.

As Sens. Obama and Clinton try to outdo each other in blaming government for our lack of individual responsibility and promising solutions by raising taxes to give us more government, they offer little change and less hope.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.