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Obama Speech Shocker: "Keynesianism, Malthusianism Have Compromised My Presidency" (Credits IHS seminars for his intellectual turnaround)

By -- September 9, 2011

It was supposed to be a speech about government engineering for job growth, including giving America another dose of “green jobs.”

What it turned out to be was the greatest surprise in the history of presidential speechmaking–a prime time address that the founding fathers would have applauded.

And the genesis of last night was several months ago when Obama decided to audit (through remote technology) the summer seminars held by the Institute of Humane Studies at George Mason University to learn about the ideas and ideals of a free society.

“‘Sleep less, think more’. That intrigued me,” said Obama after his address calling for deregulating the tax code by eliminating special provisions across-the-board; privatizing an estimated $1.5 trillion in federal assets over the next four years  to transition away from New Deal/Great Society welfarism; and establish a commission to explore separating government from money and banking.

There was much more in the transformational speech too, including a new approach to energy policy keyed on energy density as an environmental litmus test, an idea most recently associated with the work of Robert Bryce.

“I owe a lot of this to IHS and their faculty,” Obama also stated in his post-speech debriefing.

[Note: this is a parody–keep reading]

IHS Summer Program

Here is IHS’s description of its summer program, two of which were viewed remotely by Obama.

Explore ideas that shaped the modern world—ideas that helped end slavery, introduce religious freedom, and inspire the women’s suffrage movement. Discuss the fundamental, yet-still-contested idea that individual rights precede governments. From breakfast ‘til the evening reception, debate the ideas of liberty with peers from around the world and exceptional professors. 

The seminars teach students about classical liberalism (really libertarianism in today’s political vernacular). Ideas such as individual rights and free markets are applied to topics in economics, history, philosophy, law, and political science. Austrian School economics is very prominent.

Seminars explore natural rights; the establishment and purpose of private property rights; limited government; peace and foreign policy; free trade; and the morality of business and free enterprise.

Obama picked from 12 seminars introducing the ideas of liberty. “As the program advertised, I deepened my understanding of ideas that allow humans to flourish and prosper.”

Keynesianism Reconsidered

“I started with Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, and then brought in my Ph.D. economics team to consider Hazlitt’s The Failure of the ‘New’ Economics,” Obama allowed.

One Lesson was understandable and made me realize that government job creation, our visible jobs, was  illusory when opportunity cost–the less visible or invisible jobs–was taken into account.”

“My advisors really went back to school with Hazlitt’s Failure book. My gosh, they said the missed the basics of the logical structure of economics in graduate school. They are getting into Mises’ Human Action now. A study guide by a guy who has been hassling Paul Krugman for a debate, Robert Murphy, is aiding us. And some of the Milton Friedman they missed too.”

Malthusianism Reconsidered

“John Holdren, as you know, has been advising me on sustainable development issues. Green jobs and the rest of it.”

“Late one night we were sipping on some libations and very relaxed in the Oval Office. I said: ‘John, what about that billion death forecast by 2020. I know you said it could and not would happen, but what do you really think’.” And John smiled and said, ‘that was a long time ago….’ and started talking about fishing, his favorite hobby. I digress, but he uses the best electronic gear to see where the fish are. Conspicuous consumption you know, sort of like Al Gore.”

“But I started reading some books, ones by the late Julian Simon in particular, and Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, ten years old this month. I started to relax a little bit … chill. That guy Simon actually started out as a Malthusian but changed his mind. That got me to thinking about keeping an open mind.”

“And I am starting to read the blogs… different from the usual stuff my advisors send to me from time to time…. Ken Green of the American Enterprise Institute goes from the science to policy in a nice way. Jerry Taylor at Cato takes contrarian positions within the libertarian camp.

“And that Marlo Lewis–my gosh, he knows his stuff. I would much rather have a beer with Marlo than, say, Joe Romm over at Climate Progress. Joe was mad at me even before my big speech.”

Michael Lynch for years has been good on the supply side, evidently. And that New Mexico gal, Marita Noon, a new voice, she has some ideas about job growth in the energy sector.”


“Anyway, all this is a good start. I am starting to think for myself. My advisors, including Lisa Jackson over at EPA, are beside themselves with my new understanding and policy orientation, but maybe the IHS folks will have room next summer for them too.”


Perf  World is a manchild who uses parody to promote social change in an imperfect world. This is his first post at MasterResource.


  1. Ken Langford  

    This is a really bad joke!


  2. Harry Dale Huffman  

    I agree, Ken. Shame on MasterResource. Obama is not a ditzy teenager, open to every self-help product advertised, and eager to advertise it himself. He is a committed socialist and cynical elitist, without the hard experience, before his Presidency, to lead the USA competently. He is not one of the people (hey, I’m just like you, folks!), as this article would paint him.


  3. chris y  

    I missed the pomp last night, so I was keen to read the details here at Master Resource, especially with the startling headline of a pivoting POTUS.

    At first I was stunned by such a dramatic change of tone. It was as if the narcissistic arrogance of an incompetent Communitarianist had melted away.
    But when Bryce’s energy density cropped up as an integral part of an energy policy, I knew something was fishy in wind-powered Denmark.

    This post is brilliant, along the lines of Ethan Greenhart’s articles on environmentally friendly living. I look forward to reading more from Perf World.


  4. Jon Boone  

    Perf. World, indeed. The New Yorker cartoonists, who have long understood the issue with renewables, once had a recurring toon with the theme, “Dream On”–which this bit of whimsy captures nicely. Or should I say, “perfectly.” I was delighted by the humor, which took some of the gloam away from the last night’s insipid melodrama.

    But the president isn’t the only target for deserved parody. Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, the former senator from that state, placed a letter a few days ago in the Bloomberg Government newsletter, touting the “long-term benefits” and “job creation” ability of renewable energy, predominantly with wind power. See this terrific riposte by the American Tradition Institute’s Paul Chesser: http://www.atinstitute.org/ati-release-gov-former-sen-brownback-incorrect-on-promise-economics-of-wind-energy. Chesser also pointed out that Republican Brownback’s chief political advisor, David Kensinger, was a lobbyist with–wait for it–the American Wind Energy Association.

    Mr. Obama’s politics are well known, honed as they were by the ward healers of the Democratic Party in Illinois. RINOs like Brownback, however, as they pretend to be fiscal conservatives, should be the real targets for not only parody but for our contempt.


  5. rbradley  

    The point is that in a ‘perf world’ where we have open minds and a ‘challenge culture,’ we should seek to learn and to change our views.

    I personally attended IHS seminars in the 1970s mostly, and my worldview reflects the classical liberalism I was taught (during the summer to balance out my left-of-center schooling).


  6. Andrew  

    5-I’m planning on balancing out the Macro course I took last semester by reading Human Action. So a similar idea, then. 🙂


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