About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Off To See The Wizard, Part VI -- Conclusion

Towards the end of his historic speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, President Obama summed up the crux of his message in the following paragraph:
Investing in things like education that give everybody a chance to succeed. A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share. And laws that make sure everybody follows the rules. That’s what will transform our economy. That’s what will grow our middle class again. In the end, rebuilding this economy based on fair play, a fair shot, and a fair share will require all of us to see that we have a stake in each other’s success. And it will require all of us to take some responsibility. [emphasis added]
As I pointed out yesterday in Part V of this series, in Obama-speak "investing" means government spending of capital taxed away from the free market with the end result virtually always being capital consumption. As I also indicated yesterday, "fair" is a subjective term which means whatever any particular individual wants it to mean.

I challenge you to give me an empirical, measurable definition of the word "fair." What specific type of "education" guarantees everybody a "fair" chance to succeed? One that teaches Keynesian economics, for instance? Or one that teaches Austrian free market economics? One that teaches Christian morals? Or one that outlaws any mention of Christmas?

And "succeed" at what? Being a nuclear physicist? Or being a hairdresser? Or being an expert in "Queer Musicology?" [an actual 2007 college course taught at UCLA]

Ask yourself what specific income tax rate guarantees that "everybody pays their fair share?" 5%? 15%? 40%? 70%? Are any deductions "fair?" Which ones are they? Is 75% for the "rich" and 0% for the "poor" fair? What yearly income determines "rich?" Who is "poor?"

"Fairness" is not a concept that can be empirically defined by scientific analysis. It is a matter of philosophy and faith.

President Obama ended his speech by quoting Theodore Roosevelt:  
“The fundamental rule of our national life,” he said, “the rule which underlies all others—is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.”
The clear implication is, of course, that, prior to going "up or down together," Americans must come together, i.e., we must all agree on the specific political and social means by which we all can rise. This means only one thing: the socialization, standardization and politicization of virtually every aspect of common life. 

Mr. Obama argues that Americans must come together around the concept of fairness: "fair play, a fair shot, a fair share." If the meaning of "fairness" is arbitrary and subjective, the legislative process is the only way a specific and standard definition of fairness can be arrived at and agreed to by the masses. Deciding what your neighbor has the right to do and not do will be settled by our elected officials. What could be more fair? The democratic process is the ultimate arbiter of fairness. Isn't it?

And so Mr. Obama, for whatever reason, consigns us to a future of partisan bickering and political infighting over the meaning and universal implementation of social fairness.

Mr. Obama's speech in Osawatomie, Kansas was a window into that future. It was replete with gibes against the Republican definition of "fairness," gibes like:
Now, so far, most of my Republican friends in Washington have refused under any circumstance to ask the wealthiest Americans to go to the same tax rate they were paying when Bill Clinton was president.
Another window into our future is today's culture of "political correctness," which has become our gold standard of fairness. Cities mustn't erect nativity scenes at Christmas because it is unfair to non-Christian religions. Public documents cannot be published solely in English in order to be fair to native speaking immigrants. Saying "Merry Christmas" is discouraged as being unfair to Muslims. Literature, even the Bible, must be purged of gender specific terms such as "mankind" for fear of being unfair to women. Marriage mustn't be defined any longer as a social union between a man and a woman for fear of being unfair to gays. Profit must be considered evil and the equivalent of greed; in order to be fair profit must be redistributed to those who are "disadvantaged," or "needy," or "victims" of racial discrimination. 

The list is endless.

When fairness becomes our national standard, human action in society is politicized. And when human action is politicized, we lose our rights to individual freedom and private property.

Is this the future you envision for you and your children? It is the future Mr. Obama envisions for you and them.

Mr. Obama, like Theodore Roosevelt, believes that the "fundamental rule of our national life" must be that we all "go up or down together." If we follow this law -- this law "which underlies all others" -- Obama promises us that the middle class will rise again. Prosperity will once again rain down on me, you and our children from on high. If we allow ourselves to be little more than puppets manipulated by the wise "fairness" experts in his administration, life will inevitably get better.

Mr. Obama is confident of all this. He said in Kansas: "I believe America is on the way up." 

Considering the misery index these last few years and the current state of this once great nation, I'm not so sure.

Are you?

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