Tuesday, November 10, 2009

President Obama vs. The Pursuit of Happiness

This post is not about “traditional values” although the values we will discuss have been around longer than those we consider to be traditional. I am not going to tell you about the wisdom of the Founding Fathers or why they were right philosophically. I’ve done that elsewhere. This post is about your values, those you pursue and those you create. I will tell you how you can preserve those values today.

In the past, whenever I’ve talked about the evil of sacrifice it was often difficult to explain the real damage done by the idea. The most vicious practitioners of it were dictators who lived decades into the past, people who caused massive wars of destruction. Few people understand the connection between the past and today’s call for sacrifice.

The price tags enacted by re-distribution in the USA today are in the trillions. The argument for sacrifice is being made by Barack Obama through a host of schemes such as Stimulus Packages, entitlement programs, Cap and Trade and Card Check. His speeches are reminiscent of the arguments made in the past by dictators. Today the “evil” profiteers are not Jews and shop keepers in Berlin but American CEOs, investors and small business people. They are said to owe it to the poor that they should give up their production for the “common good”.

An economic value is something that people want and are willing to pay for. These values are created by a company or individual that has expertise and the necessary equipment to make the product or service. Purchase transactions enable us to trade our intelligence and labor (in the form of money) to acquire the intelligence and labor of producers (in the form of products and services).

If you are employed in this economy, the economic values you create are expressions of your individuality. They are a result of your thinking which is your method of survival.

Yet, creating a value requires more than just your mind; it also requires your learning, your competence, your honesty and the ability to act upon your judgment. These values are how you earn your living and how you can afford to enjoy your life. Every value you create is an opportunity to improve your standard of living.

This brings up an important question. Why does the government want your values? More specifically, why is it that whenever you create a value it should be given up by you for “the common good”, why is it that you, who created it, do not have a right to it?

Our political system was originally designed to prevent theft of property. First, the government was charged with fighting criminals and ensuring they were punished for their crimes. Secondly, the Constitution recognized that individual rights were universal principles and it declared your right to the pursuit of happiness. This document especially prohibited the government from acting against you. It charged the government, not with the power to take your values away, but with the power to ensure that they are not taken away...especially by the government.

With the founding of our country, voluntary trade for mutual advantage was the only transfer system. As long as men are free to work and pursue their happiness, this economic system works. In fact, it has provided more abundance, more equality and more happiness than any system in history. Yet, over the last few months our government has been arguing for a different system of transfer; based on the belief that free trade is somehow flawed; in particular, that free trade leaves some people out, steals the labor of other people and keeps those people in a state of poverty. Some have even charged that the system is even racist. This different system is called re-distribution of income. It involves the government taking your values from you by force and giving them to others. It makes the government the violator of the rights that were supposed to be protected by the Constitution. It is legalized theft.

The truth is that no one is left out in a free market system; even the poor are benefited tremendously. Not only is there always the opportunity for education of the poor, but their level of poverty, if you can call it that, is much higher than in countries that restrict free trade. This is not trickle-down; it is, in fact, trickle up. Here’s how it works: In a society of open trade, there are always opportunities for those with low skills to find work. This is because more successful people are always looking for ways to increase their leisure and comfort. They are always looking for people to mow the lawns, clean the gutters, clean the house and cook their meals. The higher the number of wealthy people in a free economy, the more opportunities there are for the poor to gain skills and elevate themselves economically.

In addition, with the drive to lower prices for such things as fast food (an idea invented in the USA), numerous opportunities exist for young people and the poor to develop job skills and eventually move up to more demanding jobs. As long as markets are free, there are always incentives to increase production and lower prices and this means jobs.

Yet, President Obama, as his career indicates, would prefer to create a revolution against capitalism. His system of re-distribution is taking away work opportunities from the poor. In fact, wealth is not created by this process. The very lesson learned from other socialist experiments is that people will not work hard when the fruits of their labor are re-distributed. Isn’t this what killed the Soviet Union? Isn’t this why Hong Kong was a booming city for decades while the rest of China was a labor camp?

When the government insists that you sacrifice your money or your time for the common good, they are asking you to sacrifice both the values that you create as well as the values you want to purchase. These are values that could provide you with a better life and the ability to enjoy it. The government is taking away your better future. And further, they are putting upon you the responsibility of ensuring that other people have a better life than you.

These values that you create are an expression of your love for life and your desire to enjoy life. Why should you have that love cut off? Why should you be thwarted in your effort to live a better life? Who has the moral authority to make a decision about your life, your work, your property and your happiness? Does President Obama? If so, how did he get this right? What made him the “decider” about your ethical decisions? Did you vote him into that position? Is that even a position that should be decided by democratic vote? I think not.

Why is the President attacking your values? Why does he limit and restrict your happiness? I think he wants to destroy your ability to enjoy your life, to ensure that your life is dominated by pain, fear and service to society; he wants to sever the relationship between the values you create and the tangible results of those values; and, more importantly, he wants to paralyze you morally so he can destroy your ability to question his actions.

If you accept the goal of re-distribution, you are already partly brainwashed; you accept President Obama’s vision of a sacrificial life for yourself and for the nation. In this position, you cannot question the administration and any of the re-distribution policies it puts forth. You join the collective and become a dutiful “worker” whose future and well being are in the hands of the government. In order to live a better life, the government must give you more benefits; you do not need to earn them for yourself; you lose the intellectual discipline that comes with self-responsibility. Every economic judgment you make must be a political judgment; a judgment that results in your support for more benefits and entitlements. This means you will vote for President Obama…you might even support his canceling future elections. You might support the persecution of productive people.

Many people who are productive are also silenced by the moral issue that self-sacrifice represents. They’ve been taught to sacrifice since they were children. They are morally paralyzed by the idea that if someone demands their money for others, they must give it up and they must not question the motives of the people who demand it. The speeches given by the President about the “value” of sacrifice and the duty he thinks we have to do it; especially the calls for mandatory public service, are intended, not to promote and sell his policies, but to silence you and gain your support by default. It takes courage to disagree with sacrifice. Who would be so "selfish" as to stand up for his right to happiness?

President Obama does not care about how hard you work or whether you suffer. If you are an American who has prospered in this society, you are guilty because you prospered. You are guilty because, in his mind, you allowed other people to suffer; in fact, he believes you created their suffering. You know better than that; and you also know that your hard work has created opportunities for the poor far beyond that created by President Obama while he worked as a community organizer. Even today, he is less productive as President than you are as a hard working American. He can only take from you because he has the gun. Your power is your mind and your ability to create value.

The fundamental division in our society is between people who hold your view of moral living and people who hold President Obama’s view. Your view is based in honesty, production, hard work and mutual trade to mutual benefit. His view is based on generating envy using discredited materialist views about the evil of profit. Your view is necessary for moral living; his view brings about hatred and theft.

Today people are struggling to be productive as they try to overcome the consequences of President Obama’s policies. Every day he makes your productivity harder. Every day he takes more of your values from you. He is at war against your happiness and every program he passes is another attack on you; another effort to dig you and your children into a deeper hole that that requires more work and no reward. Every dollar the Obama administration spends is a dollar taken from you.

The only way to stop this madness is to fight for your right to happiness without guilt and moral paralysis. You must question to its core every proposal, every move and every policy of the administration. You must start showing up at the offices of your representatives. Every day they should see “the people” tirelessly protesting every measure they pass and every “bribe” they take from the Stimulus Package. The message must be sent out loudly that you will not allow your freedoms to be taken from you without a fight. You must inform them proudly that you will pursue your happiness.

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