Let's all wish our youthful president a happy birthday. Barack Obama turns 48 on Tuesday. May he be forever young in the minds of the American people.
Those of us who have been around for a while know that the office of president of the United States seems to age our leaders at an accelerated pace. You've always heard that one "dog year" equals seven human years, but unlike man's best friend, there is no universally recognized measure for "president years." I'd like to establish such a standard because I'm concerned about the disconcerting signs that President Obama is aging faster than all 43 of his predecessors.
I have been spending this week with 20 economists at a meeting in Wichita, Kan., where the Economic Freedom of the World index has been the topic of a few of our discussions. It was noted that America declined in economic freedom---from a No. 3 ranking in the world to No. 8---under President George W. Bush. In his book Bureaucracy, the economist Ludwig Von Mises called those who promote bureaucracy, which is the enemy of economic freedom, "old men." Therefore, President Bush is an old man by economic freedom standards.
Although President Obama defines himself as a "progressive," his policy goals are those of old men. Instead of rolling back government and promoting more freedom (i.e., progress) for the American economy, Obama seeks to heap bureaucracy on his country with expensive red-tape initiatives like his massive healthcare program.
The economists in our group this week predicted that in just a few years Obama's policies could bump the United States to 20th position on the Economic Freedom of the World index, which is currently occupied by Slovakia, decreasing American wealth 20 to 25 percent. If each percentage point in the index were to equal seven years---I'll call them "president years"---Obama could be a very, very old man by the end of his first term.
We Americans appreciate youthful, vigorous presidents. Even though Ronald Reagan was an old man in regular human years, he seemed so young and full of energy and life, especially when it came to economic policies. Remember when he cut taxes in response to the recession early in his presidency?
Perhaps Obama's approval ratings are in steep decline because the American public senses a sudden onset of old age. I know that I prefer to envision Obama as a young man, but because we're likely to view him frequently on the tube during August promoting his healthcare program while Congress is out of session, I know that I'll start seeing him more and more as an old man.
Let's give President Obama a youthful birthday present this year. We can keep him young by saying no to big bureaucratic programs like his healthcare plan. We did it for President Clinton in 1994, let's do it for President Obama now. Happy 48th birthday, President Obama. May you be forever young.