Sunday, September 26, 2010

The President's Achilles' Heel

President Obama has told us once again that his Health Care program is unpopular because he hasn’t done a good job of communicating the benefits of the program. And, once again, he recites the same litany of arguments that didn’t sway opinions the first time.

He is probably asking himself some hard questions: why don’t the American people want these benefits? What makes people want to repeal the entire bill?

His solution is to put Andy Griffith on the air.

Is it possible that the people are wiser than President Obama on this issue?

The Founding Fathers, particularly Jefferson and Madison, were political philosophers of the highest caliber. They engaged in far-reaching studies of governments around the world and through out history. They wanted to create a new form of government that retained all the best attributes of the better systems but which also restricted the negative attributes. They understood the flaws in communism(1), theocracy, monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, to name a few, and they found these systems wanting in their ability to protect men against the development of tyranny. Their solution was a republic that instituted strong restraints on the government such as effective divisions of power, checks and balances, a written Constitution, a bill of rights and the pursuit of happiness.

The Founders saw any system of government that sought to exploit given groups for the sake of other groups as tyranny. For instance, they did not want the un-propertied mass of people, by vote, to expropriate the property of the rich (re-distribution) and they did not want the rich to use influence with the government to get even more rich (oligarchy). They wanted all groups to be left to their own devices and free of any form of coercion from any direction.(2)

Our President, on the other hand is not a political philosopher; he is an ideologue who thinks that (in essence) a fascist oligarchy with elements of communism (re-distribution) is the best system. He minimizes the studied views of Madison and Jefferson and criticizes the Constitution because it does not re-distribute wealth. His “system” would bring into government the negative attributes of both democracy and oligarchy – as if it represented something new that has never been tried. Not only does he hope for the ignorance of the American people about the damage that these systems have caused in the past, he accepts the invalid verdict of Marxist critics that capitalism is exploitation. He considers capitalism to be selfish, wasteful and coercive while at the same time he seeks to retain in his own government these same negative attributes.

If he were to look at his own economic program, in particular his Stimulus Program, that has produced not a single net job, he would be asking himself why the jobs are not coming, why he has to tamper with the numbers, why he has to call government hiring for the census an indication of an improving economy. Instead of lying to us, he should be asking why his policies aren’t working. But he doesn’t ask that question. Why?

The answer is because the President is a committed statist.

A statist adheres to the principle that the government has the moral authority to use force against citizens for any reason whatever. A citizen is considered the property of the state and it is his duty to do as he is told; to sacrifice himself, if the state demands it, for a “higher” good. Further, if the state determines that a particular social goal is a priority, the citizen must dedicate himself to that goal. There is no choice in this matter; the collective rules and the individual’s wants, needs or goals are unimportant. If some people have to starve for the sake of the “greater good”, that is fine.

Statists consider that leadership consists of passing laws or issuing decrees that the rest of society must obey. They assume that citizens “know” that their decisions are the will of the people. The pragmatic statist thinks that his leadership skill is to be found in intelligently manipulating the elements of society in order to accomplish “good” results. He uses college professors who are adept at statistics, and who claim to have a deep knowledge of how society works, to advise him on how to pull the levers of the social machine, to prime the pump, so to speak, and create abundance and happiness all around.

A statist adheres to the principle of collectivism which claims that people, working together, sacrificing for each other, can accomplish great things. They consider that collectivism is the key to winning wars, defeating poverty, eliminating waste and improving the morale of the nation. This too is considered practical. The statist envisions a world of happy workers, each laboring for the goal of the collective, and contributing to the total product which keeps growing larger.

Which brings us to the third principle of the statist and that is altruism. Altruism is the idea that it is the duty of each individual to participate in the collectivist dream; in fact, that he must participate or else he is an enemy of the people. The altruist thinks that if people do not willingly contribute their work, their time and their lives to the collective vision, they are criminals; they must be punished and ostracized.

The problem for statists like the President is that they are fraught with cognitive blind spots. Their visions blur when it comes to anticipating the final outcome of statism, the point when the gross product is supposed to keep getting larger. The vision of a happy, affluent society, for some reason, never materializes. It must always be pushed off into a further distant future…while the wise leaders figure out how to manipulate the society even more. They look for situations where men are not performing their duties, and they determine how the government can “nudge” them so society can be improved. Each intervention creates more problems and breeds more interventions and takes society to the point where the leaders lose track of what caused what and how to fix what. The brilliant scholars, now called dunces, are hauled off to prison or summarily purged as enemies of the state. What none of the statists realize is that when you combine altruism with collectivism you end with slave labor, concentration camps and genocide...or revolution.

The most basic blindspot of statists is found in their theory of man’s nature. To them, man is an ignorant brute who will always do the wrong thing unless a “benevolent” authority keeps them on the right path. The truth that statist authorities do not see is that man is not a brute, he is a being with volition and the ability to survive by means of his mind. In other words, man has the ability to thrive if he is left alone. This is the fact that the statists refuse to accept and this is why every statist society in history has been a dismal failure.

Which brings us to the President’s Achilles' Heel.

The American people did not vote for the President’s Health Care program, his jobs stimulus bills, his interventions, his unilateral decrees, his lawlessness. This is because most of the people are rational. They are not mere brutes who follow any lie told to them. They know that these programs are not in their self-interest. They know that their future hard work (in the form of debt) is merely being re-distributed; nothing is being added to the gross product…which means no “stimulation” is being accomplished. They are smarter than the President and all his professors combined.

The rationality of the American people represents the President’s Achilles Heel, his deadly weakness within his perceived strength as a leader. It doesn’t matter how cleverly he tells a lie; it is still a lie and people can see through it. The fantasy that you can create economic well-being by giving to some people other peoples’ money does not wash. You cannot indefinitely spend tomorrow’s money; sooner or later you lose your credit rating and you are destitute.

The American people are reading between the lines of the President’s actions and statements. Though many of them don’t know what statism is, they can see that there is something wrong with the President’s manner of speaking. They ask themselves whether he is a communist, a socialist, a fascist, a welfare statist and they debate with themselves (endlessly) the meaning of what he does not say, the nature of the people that he brings into his administration, the decrees he issues, the laws he disregards and they know that the principles he claims to espouse, free markets and capitalism, are clearly not what he advocates.

They see clearly that he advocates a government of men…and not of laws.

(1) Via Aristotle’s writings on communism, holding all property in common.
(2) See Federalist Paper #10 by Madison

1 comment:

  1. I guess he thinks that Andy Griffith can reach us gun-clinging, bible-thumping flyover people. Given O's opinion of us, poor Andy Griffith, bless his heart, is quite the insult.