The economy Obama wants

Mark Steyn:

I was at the mall two days before Christmas, and it was strangely quiet. So quiet that, sadly, I was able to hear every word of Kelly Clarkson bellowing over the sound system "My Grown-Up Christmas List." Don't get me wrong – I love seasonal songs. "Winter Wonderland" – I dig it. "Rudolph" – man, he's cool, albeit not as literally as Frosty. But "Grown-Up Christmas List" is one of those overwrought ballads of melismatic bombast made for the "American Idol" crowd. It's all about how the singer now eschews asking Santa for materialist goodies – beribboned trinkets and gaudy novelties – in favor of selfless grown-up stuff like world peace.

Which is an odd sentiment to hear at a shopping mall.

But it seems to have done the trick. "Retail Sales Plummet," read the Christmas headline in The Wall Street Journal. "Sales plunged across most categories on shrinking consumer spending."

Hey, that's great news, isn't it? After all, everyone knows Americans consume too much. What was it that then Sen. Obama said on the subject? "We can't just keep driving our SUVs, eating whatever we want, keeping our homes at 72 degrees at all times regardless of whether we live in the tundra or the desert and keep consuming 25 percent of the world's resources with just 4 percent of the world's population, and expect the rest of the world to say, 'You just go ahead, we'll be fine.'"

And boy, we took the great man's words to heart. SUV sales have nose-dived, and 72 is no longer your home's thermostat setting but its current value expressed as a percentage of what you paid for it. If I understand then Sen. Obama's logic, in a just world Americans would be 4 percent of the population and consume 4 percent of the world's resources. And in these past few months we've made an excellent start toward that blessed utopia: Americans are driving smaller cars, buying smaller homes, giving smaller Christmas presents.

And yet, strangely, President-elect Barack Obama doesn't seem terribly happy about the Obamafication of the U.S. economy. He's proposing some 5.7 bazillion dollar "stimulus" package or whatever it is now to "stimulate" it back into its bad old ways.

And how does the rest of the world, of whose tender sensibilities then-Sen. Obama was so mindful, feel about the collapse of American consumer excess? They're aghast, they're terrified, they're on a one-way express elevator down the abyss with no hope of putting on the brakes unless the global economy can restore aggregate demand.

What does all that mumbo-jumbo about "aggregate demand" mean? Well, that's a fancy term for you – yes, you, Joe Lardbutt, the bloated, disgusting embodiment of American excess, driving around in your Chevy Behemoth, getting two blocks to the gallon as you shear the roof off the drive-thru lane to pick up your $7.93 decaf gingersnap-mocha-pepperoni-zebra mussel frappuccino, which makes for a wonderful thirst-quencher after you've been working up a sweat watching the plasma TV in your rec room with the thermostat set to 87. The message from the European political class couldn't be more straightforward: If you crass, vulgar Americans don't ramp up the demand, we're kaput. Unless you get back to previous levels of planet-devastating consumption, the planet is screwed.

...

There is more.

Liberals never seem to be satisfied even when they get what they say they want. The world would be a happier place without them.

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