Victor Davis Hanson

To newly inaugurated Barack Obama and his prime-the-pump technocrats, the logic seemed so simple. America's problem was a struggling economy. The solution was to spread around even more borrowed government money. The result would be a return to prosperity.

But after nearly three years and almost $5 trillion in more borrowed "stimulus," things have gotten only worse. Unemployment is stuck at 9.1 percent. Consumer confidence is approaching a record low. The stock market is tanking. National debt increases at the rate of $4 billion a day. Economic growth has almost vanished. Credit worthiness is downgraded. The housing market is still depressed. Food and fuel prices skyrocket. In response, only 26 percent of the public expresses confidence in the president's handling of the economy.

Apparently government cannot so easily, as even the president himself recently confessed, manufacture "shovel-ready" jobs. But it did far better in scaring cash-hoarding businesses into a historic hiring paralysis with nonstop talk of higher taxes, more national debt, more regulations, them/us class warfare rhetoric, threatened government shutdowns of private plants, and higher-priced energy.

Obama is still promising to borrow more for "infrastructure" and "jobs." Despite $16 trillion in federal debt, the administration apparently wants to defy the rules of logic and do more of what made things worse in the first place, under the euphemism of "investments." Popular American culture has coined all sorts of proverbial warnings about such mindless devotion to destructive rote: "Don't flog a dead horse," "If you are in a hole, stop digging," and "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

No matter: The administration still adheres to the logical fallacy that the toxic medicine cannot be proven to be useless or harmful, because there was supposedly never enough of it given. And the proof is that the worsening patient is still not quite dead.

The same fallacy arises over the rioting in Britain and the flash mobbing in American cities. With food stamps, housing subsidies, unemployment insurance, disability payments and general assistance at all-time highs in the affluent West, why did looters target mostly high-end stores? Was the criminality really due to a lack of government investment and public caring -- or perhaps because of too much coddling and dependency? Yet some observers are talking of renewed "investments," not of pruning back the destructive programs that seemed to facilitate an angry underclass in robbing electronics and boutique-clothing stores.


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.