Category Archive 'Free Enterprise'

18 Oct 2012

Obama: On Whether Free Enterprise Works or Not

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(image via Vanderleun)

A lot of reactionaries like myself have described Barack Obama as “a socialist,” “a Marxist,” and “a Communist.” How could we possibly have thought that about someone who, in his closing statement at the Second 2012 Presidential Debate, delivered this encomium to Capitalism and Free Enterprize:

At 1:34:17:

I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.

That’s not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known.
I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy’s grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class. . . .

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This sounds enough like Barry Goldwater to make poor Bill Ayers go out and commit seppuku in Grant Park. But that would assume that Barack Obama was expressing himself with sincerity. In reality, Barack Obama, in his closing statement at that Second Debate, was fraudulently trying to position himself as a mainstream centrist believer in the American system, which he really is not. In the statement above, he is not expressing his real position. He is blowing smoke in an effort to conceal it.

The real Barack Obama is the Barack Obama who tried to revive turn-of-the-last-century Progressivism in a speech delivered lat December in Osawatomie, Kansas:

15:06:

[T]here’s been a certain crowd in Washington for the last few decades who respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory. . . .

John Lott noticed the contradiction between exactly the same two Obama statements.

02 Sep 2012

Two Approaches

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Hat tip to Jose Guardia.

20 Jul 2010

Privatizing Space Exploration

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NASA is busy trying to improve the self-esteem of Saracens, but take heart, space exploration enthusiasts. As Bill Whittle explains in a 13:15 PJM video, private enterprise is stepping up to take on the challenge that government is in the process of abandoning.

“This wave of exploration is not dependent on the whims of Congress and whichever president happens to be in office. This wave is being launched by free and successful and visionary businessmen, pilots, designers, and engineers, not by committees of detached bureaucrats and clueless politicians.”

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

24 May 2010

The Culture War Over the Economy

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Arthur C. Brooks, president of the America Enterprise Institute, has an excellent editorial on the current struggle over America’s future between the 30% comprising the American left and the rest of us.

America faces a new culture war.

This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise — limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.

It is not at all clear which side will prevail. The forces of big government are entrenched and enjoy the full arsenal of the administration’s money and influence. Our leaders in Washington, aided by the unprecedented economic crisis of recent years and the panic it induced, have seized the moment to introduce breathtaking expansions of state power in huge swaths of the economy, from the health-care takeover to the financial regulatory bill that the Senate approved Thursday. If these forces continue to prevail, America will cease to be a free enterprise nation.

I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral to American culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of our history and character. “A wise and frugal government,” Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, “which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” He later warned: “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” In other words, beware government’s economic control, and woe betide the redistributors.

Now, as then, entrepreneurship can flourish only in a culture where individuals are willing to innovate and exert leadership; where people enjoy the rewards and face the consequences of their decisions; and where we can gamble the security of the status quo for a chance of future success.

Yet, in his commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13, 2009, President Obama warned against precisely such impulses: “You’re taught to chase after all the usual brass rings; you try to be on this “who’s who” list or that Top 100 list; you chase after the big money and you figure out how big your corner office is; you worry about whether you have a fancy enough title or a fancy enough car. That’s the message that’s sent each and every day, or has been in our culture for far too long — that through material possessions, through a ruthless competition pursued only on your own behalf — that’s how you will measure success.” Such ambition, he cautioned, “may lead you to compromise your values and your principles.”

I appreciate the sentiment that money does not buy happiness. But for the president of the United States to actively warn young adults away from economic ambition is remarkable. And he makes clear that he seeks to change our culture. …

[T]he real tipping point was the financial crisis, which began in 2008. The meltdown presented a golden opportunity for the 30 percent coalition to attack free enterprise openly and remake America in its own image.

And it seized that opportunity. While Republicans had no convincing explanation for the crisis, seemed responsible for it and had no obvious plans to fix it, the statists offered a full and compelling narrative. Ordinary Americans were not to blame for the financial collapse, nor was government. The real culprits were Wall Street and the Bush administration, which had gutted the regulatory system that was supposed to keep banks in line.

The solution was obvious: Vote for a new order to expand the powers of government to rein in the dangerous excesses of capitalism.

It was a convincing story. For a lot of panicky Americans, the prospect of a paternalistic government rescuing the nation from crisis seemed appealing as stock markets and home prices spiraled downward. According to this narrative, government was at fault in just one way: It wasn’t big enough. If only there had been more regulators watching the banks more closely, the case went, the economy wouldn’t have collapsed.

Yet in truth, it was government housing policy that was at the root of the crisis. Moreover, the financial sector — where the crisis began and where it has had the most serious impact — is already one of the most regulated parts of our economy. The chaos happened despite an extensive, intrusive regulatory framework, not because such a framework didn’t exist.

More government — including a super-empowered Federal Reserve, a consumer protection watchdog and greater state powers to wind down financial firms and police market risks — does not mean we will be safe. On the contrary, such changes would give us a false sense of security, especially when Washington, a primary culprit in the crisis, is creating and implementing the new rules.

The statist narrative also held that only massive deficit spending could restore economic growth. “If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years,” Obama warned a few days before taking office. “Only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe. Only government can break the cycle that is crippling our economy.”

This proposition is as expensive as it is false. Recessions can and do end without the kind of stimulus we experienced, and attempts to shore up the economy with huge public spending often do little to improve matters and instead chain future generations with debt.


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