Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama and Selfishness

This is exactly the kind of comment that makes me cringe at an Obama presidency.

There are two pieces of this comment that demonstrate to me that Obama is still, at heart, quite socialistic in his views.

The point is, though, that -- and it’s not just charity, it’s not just that
I want to help the middle class and working people who are trying to get in the
middle class -- it’s that when we actually make sure that everybody’s got a shot
– when young people can all go to college, when everybody’s got decent health
care, when everybody’s got a little more money at the end of the month – then
guess what? Everybody starts spending that money..

This kind of commentary echoes the debate exchange about whether health care is a right or a responsibility. Obama clearly thinks everybody has a right to perfect health care and a college education, and while this sounds like a wonderful idea on its face, it shows his lack of understanding about what a "right" is. Both health care and education demand the resources of other people - the time of doctors and teachers, medical and educational supplies, etc. The rights we normally talk about as "rights", such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. are rights specifically because they largely do not place demands on the freedoms of others. But Obama's rights do. You can construct numerous scenarios where Obama's right to health care conflicts with other, in my mind, more basic rights of other individuals. [I'm a little shocked that I have not seen one commentary comparing Obama's "right" answer to the health care to McCain's "responsibility" answer. It was a good, fundamental, philisophical question, and the absence of discussion on it in the MSM says quite a bit about the state of the MSM.]

"John McCain and Sarah Palin they call this socialistic," Obama continued. "You
know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of

Actually John and Sarah have it right. It is socialistic. First of all, you can't have "charity" when there is a state mandate. Charity supposes a choice. You choose to be generous in helping someone else in need. When the state or any other entity mandates a decision, generosity goes right out the window. Obama thinks the state can be generous, but it can't. It's not a human being. All the state can do is mandate that money must go from person X to person Y.

His definition of selfishness is the converse. It is now selfish to make your own decision about what you want to do with the money you earn. We can have all the discussions we want about the morality of earning certain amounts of money and how we spend that money, but do we really want to surrender those choices to the state? Someone mentioned earlier that Obama is not anti-liberty, but if you believe the idea of liberty includes economic liberty, this is by definition anti-liberty.

My comments above aren't exactly revolutionary. All of these same arguments exist in the philisophical texts that are the basis of our constitutional, free market system, and Obama, for all his shininess as a candidate, doesn't seem to share the same philosophy. For all the histrionics I have heard from the right, those commentators who suggest an Obama presidency might lead to permanent structural changes to the U.S system might not actually be all that hysterical in their fears.

For some reason this all reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson, so with your indulgence...

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their
own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of
labor and bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government.

If this is truly the "sum of good government", then what Obama is suggesting strikes me as the sum of bad government.

1 comment:

Yo Gabba Gabba said...

Good points, all. I gotta admit that I wince a bit too.