My father used to tell me that if I worked hard, it would pay off in the long run. How could he have been so blind? Laziness pays off now!
We all know that the power to tax is the power to destroy. So too is the power to regulate. Equally powerful is the reality that rewarded behavior is repeated. After applying these inescapable truths to the analysis of Obamanomics, a collection of policies designed to reward or deter (or even outright banish) certain behaviors - to ordain winners and losers - it’s all clear to me now. The reason Obamanomics has been such a miserable failure is that I failed to follow its cues. I hope America will forgive me.
First, despite so many communities lacking a village organizer, I chose instead to serve mine. At the time, the practice of medicine seemed like a noble calling, but little did I realize what a threat physicians pose to communities. Surgeons, President Obama warned, will run around lopping off patients’ feet or yanking out children’s tonsils just to pocket a quick buck. I realize that many of you parents who have unsuccessfully pleaded to your child’s pediatrician for a tonsillectomy will disagree, but who are you to judge? The president doesn’t trust you or your doctor to decide such things. Why else would he appoint as the head of Medicare a man who declared that the doctor-patient relationship is “no longer tenable”?
What’s worse - at least in Obamaworld - is that I, like most physicians, have two jobs: I’m also responsible for a business that creates jobs and employs some great Americans. This despite our government’s burdensome taxes, regulations and licenses, which already have created formidable obstacles to entrepreneurial success. You don’t believe me? Try launching a company or getting a new drug approved. Heck, try starting a lemonade stand. As if these barriers weren’t enough already, Obamanomics increases taxes, regulatory burdens and uncertainties that weigh heavily on each new hire. And yet I stubbornly ignore the president’s incentives by keeping many good people employed. In my defense, however, medical practices today have to hire their own in-house bureaucracies just to cope with the demands of Washington’s bureaucracies. You might think it would be nice if health care money went to, you know, health care, but don’t be naive - your government knows best.
Embarrassingly, I must confess that I balance my own budget, both personal and professional. I realize that’s anathema to Obamanomics, but I just can’t escape my vice of fiscal sanity. What’s more, even though there’s “shovel-ready” money to be had from “Obama’s stash,” I stubbornly insist on paying my own bills. This sometimes leads to difficult choices: I’m the only doctor in America, for example, who drives a car officially declared a “clunker” by his own cousin-in-chief, but I’m from the branch of the family that doesn’t believe in spending money you don’t have - plus, I love my SUV. Still, the undeniable reality is that according to the Obama way of thinking, I obviously sabotaged our economy when I undercut the stimulus and its related gimmicks like “Cash for Clunkers” by refusing to participate in the giveaways.
Worst of all, however, I have become the single greatest impediment to Americans’ prosperity in Obamaworld: a high-wage earner. That I clawed my way toward the American dream with humbling jobs since the age of 12, volunteered for a grinding decade of medical training and lived more of my adult years deep in the bottom rungs of incomes than the top, I know now, is no excuse. Obamanomics is about spreading the wealth, not creating it. In my defense, wildly increased taxes, stifling malpractice insurance and even steep medical school loans have worked wonders to erase the gains. Still, Mr. Obama claims that families earning more than $250,000 a year are “millionaires and billionaires.” Who knew? Those tax-free corporate jets can’t be far behind.
Of course, I’m not alone. Tens of millions of Americans are frustrating the socialist aspirations of this president simply by getting up each morning and going to work. You know who you are. You’re not just suckers, you’re saboteurs. Barack Obama would prefer we all be wards of the state rather than active producers. How else can you explain the incentives he champions: endless jobless benefits, cradle-to-grave welfare handouts, “tax cuts” for non-taxpayers, and on and on. Thus proclaims the president who himself raked in a cool $7.2 million over the past two years, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” The key word there is “you.”
Obamanomics hasn’t failed America; we’ve failed it. We refused to become the wards of the state as it demands. I cling (though not bitterly) to my belief that America would be better served if Barack Obama concentrated more on spreading my work ethic than my wealth. I now realize that by serving my community rather than organizing it, by creating jobs and wealth and by holding dear the American dream, I have sabotaged Obamanomics. I hope America will forgive me.
Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a cousin of President Obama’s. He blogs at MiltonWolf.com.