Archive for July, 2012

Elton John Praises Bush

July 25, 2012

I think that Elton John us trying to mess with everyone’s head. First, he tells the world that he and Rush Limbaugh are actually close friends, despite their differences in politics. Now, he praises George W. Bush for his work saving Africans from HIV. As it says in The Daily Caller.

Elton John praised former President George W. Bush and “conservative American politicians” for pledging billions of dollars to “save the lives of Africans with HIV.” He also credited hip-hop artist Jay-Z with starting a “domino effect” in the African-American community to support gay marriage.

“We’ve seen George W. Bush and conservative American politicians pledge tens of billions to save the lives of Africans with HIV. Think of all the love. Think of where we’d be without it, nowhere, that’s where. We’d be nowhere at all,” John said at the International AIDS conference in Washington on Monday.

“Thanks to all this compassion, thanks to all this love, more than 8 million people are on treatment. Thanks to people who have chosen to care and to act, we can see an end to this epidemic on the horizon.”

Fool. Doesn’t he know that Bushilter is an evil man, a war criminal, worse that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin-Laden put together.

Actually, Elton John is absolutely correct. In one of the least heralded US foreign policy initiatives ever, George W. Bush spent billions of dollars helping the people of Africa. Somehow the mainstream media completely missed this story. I am glad that Elton John was willing to give credit where it is due.

Still, he had better be careful. If he keeps this up people might start thinking he is a Conservative.

Elton John made another statement that I feel a bit ambivalent about.

Elton John also said AIDS advocates need a role model.

“We haven’t had one since Magic Johnson. We need people to say it is okay to be HIV positive. Look at me. I’m leading this life. I’m okay. People treat me good. We need to move forward in that respect,” he said.

I understand what he is saying and to an extent I agree with him. Still, it is not okay to be HIV positive. AIDS is a terrible disease that causes long term suffering and eventual death. There is now a very good understanding that HIV is not spread through casual contact but that most cases are the result of actions by the victims, namely unprotected sexual intercourse and sharing of needles. HIV, then is entirely preventable and theoretically there should be only a very few new cases, at least in the developed world. Instead, the number of people with HIV continues to rise, largely because people are stupid. I think that the most compassionate thing to do about AIDS is to try to keep people from getting it. Maybe it might help if every public figure who is infected with HIV came forward and admitted to the foolish and self destructive behavior that led to their infection and urged their fans not to follow their example.

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More Foolishness about the Aurora Shootings

July 24, 2012

 

 

The day before yesterday, I suggested that people, especially politicians not use the shootings in Aurora Colorado to push their political agendas.  But, being politicians, they can’t help themselves. Its what they do. I was mostly concerned with gun control advocates, but people on the other side can say stupid things too. Witness the statements of Congressman Louie Gohmert.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Friday that the shootings that took place in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater hours earlier were a result of “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs” and questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter.

During a radio interview on The Heritage Foundation‘s “Istook Live!” show, Gohmert was asked why he believes such senseless acts of violence take place. Gohmert responded by talking about the weakening of Christian values in the country.

Gohmert also said the tragedy could have been lessened if someone else in the movie theater had been carrying a gun and took down the lone shooter. Istook noted that Colorado laws allow people to carry concealed guns.

“It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?” he asked.

I am as much an advocate of second amendment rights as anybody, yet I have to question whether it would have been a good idea to start shooting in a darkened, crowded theater, not knowing precisely what was going on. It seems to me that someone trying to stop the shooter would be more likely to hit a bystander.

On the other hand, have you ever noticed that these sort of events never happen at gun shows, or police stations, or really, anywhere where there are armed people who are prepared to use their weapons? It seems that although Colorado allows concealed carry of firearms, the city of Aurora is more restrictive and the theater chain did not allow guns on the premises. Is it possible that the shooter considered these factors when choosing where to strike?

What rep. Gohmert may not understand is that the purpose of bearing arms is not really to engage in shootouts, but for deterrence. Honest, law-abiding people arm themselves in the hope that they will not have to use them. The idea is that one is less likely to be attacked if the assailant knows his potential victim can fight back with deadly force.

Moving on, Mayor Bloomberg continues his streak of idiocy by suggesting that the police go on a strike for gun control.

One of the few points that President Obama and Mitt Romney agree on is that they’re both determined not to let gun control become an issue in the election, despite Friday’s theater shooting in Colorado. However, their attempts to dodge the issue have only emboldened Mayor Bloomberg, who was rather bold to start with. After warming up on Monday’s Morning Joe, Bloomberg ended the day by suggesting on Piers Morgan Tonight that law enforcement should take a drastic stand on the issue. “I don’t understand why the police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say we’re going to go on strike,” Bloomberg said. “We’re not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.”

Earlier, Bloomberg said, “I think there is a perception among the political world that the NRA has more power than the American people. I don’t believe that.” However, there’s evidence that the NRA isn’t the only impediment to passing stricter gun laws. The New York Timesreports that support for gun control has hit a new low. An October Gallup poll found that gun control laws were less popular among people of all political persuasions, and for the first time a majority (53 percent) opposed banning semiautomatic guns and assault rifles. Representative Peter King told the paper, “The majority of American people are very attached to their guns. They look on any attempt to regulate or control them as an infringement.”

 

First, such a strike would be illegal in most jurisdictions. The police may not endanger public safety by going on strike and allowing criminals to rum rampant, and I cannot believe that many police officers would be so unprofessional as to agree with such a course of action.

Second, Mayor Bloomberg really suggests that the police blackmail the public into supporting policies it does not want. The tide of public opinion on this issue has shifted dramatically against gun control in the last two decades, which might be why Bloomberg is so eager to suggest extra-legal methods to achieve the policies he wants. Ultimately the precedent set by such a police strike might end in a situation in which the police have first say in every piece of legislation, hardly a democratic method.

Finally, and here is the important point, note carefully Mayor Bloomberg’s idea of the relationship between the police, the government, and the people. To him, it seems that the problem is that too many people are armed, and likely to attack the police. He makes no distinction between criminals and law-abiding citizens. All are equally under suspicion and no one should be trusted to defend themselves. When you consider also his incessant nanny-statism, it is clear that Mayor Bloomberg’s America is an America composed of lowly serfs who are incapable of caring for themselves and who must be grateful that their betters take an interest in saving them from themselves. There is the real evil.

 

 

Profile in Folly

July 23, 2012

 

I came across this opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle, which grants John McCain a profile in courage for his opposition to an investigation of Huma Abedin, a Deputy Chief of Staff for Hilary Clinton who may have some links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the 1950s, Sen. Joe McCarthy and other paranoid anti-communists saw Reds under the bed – and in the State Department. Today a fringe group of conservatives believes similarly that Islamic fundamentalists have infiltrated the deepest recesses of the American government.

In refuting such an aspersion made by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., against a State Department official, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has struck a profile in courage that should encourage other conservatives to distance themselves from crackpot conspiracy theories.

On Wednesday McCain defended Huma Abedin, a Muslim-American who serves as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In a letter to the inspector general of the State Department, Bachmann and four other Republican representatives had warned that Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide, “has three family members – her late father, her mother and her brother – connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.” The letter was one of five sent to inspectors general of various agencies citing “serious security concerns” about Muslim Brotherhood penetration.

Now, as it happens, those paranoid anti-Communists were absolutely correct. There really were Communists in the State Department who really were spying for the Soviet Union and really were trying to influence policy. Joe McCarthy was right. The problem with Sen McCarthy was that he was something of a bully and a buffoon who brought discredit on a very important cause. After fall of the Soviet Union, the KGB archives were briefly opened for inspection and McCarthy and others have been vindicated. If anything, US counter-intelligence agencies were not paranoid enough.

The Soviet Union is gone and China is trying to become, well whatever China is trying to become, not doctrinaire Communist at any rate. We have nothing to fear from Communism anymore. This does not mean we have no enemies. As incredible as it may seem, there really are people in the world who hate America and seek to do us harm. Where would I get such a crazy idea?

 

I can’t imagine.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization dedicated to setting up Sharia Islamic rule wherever they can. They are close to gaining power in Egypt, and other Middle-Eastern nations, and they do not like the United States. They are smarter than al-Qaeda, though, and while they are willing to use violent terrorism when necessary, they are aware that violence is often counter-productive, especially in Western countries. Therefore, many members of the Muslim Brother prefer to use what they call “stealth jihad”, that is slowly and quietly gaining control of a country’s institutions with the ultimate aim of imposing Shariah.

It might be easy to dismiss this, and the Muslim Brother does not have the resources or sophistication that the Communists had. Fewer well educated Westerners are likely to become enamored with an Islamist organisation than they were with various Communist Parties. Still, it would be foolish to ignore the very real threat that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists pose. Perhaps as foolish as pretending that the Soviets were no threat.

Numa Abedin apparently has relatives who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is likely that she herself has no Islamist sympathies but it is not paranoid or foolish to investigate the matter, nor is it being an islamophobe (whatever that is exactly) to suggest that anyone with connections with an organization hostile to the United States not be permitted access to any classified material. John McCain is not being courageous here. he is being a fool.
.

 

Rush Limbaugh & Elton John BFFs?

July 23, 2012

 

 

According to this article I read in Politico, Rush Limbaugh and Elton John have formed a rather unlikely friendship.

To the shock of many (given the gap in their political ideologies), Elton John performed at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding in 2010 and, in a new interview with USA Today, the performer opened up about his friendship with the conservative talk show host.

John’s hope of eroding stigmas has led him into some unlikely alliances. After he agreed to perform at Limbaugh’s wedding in 2010, the two men bonded over music and formed a friendship, despite Limbaugh’s conservative views.

“He sends me the loveliest e-mails,” said John. “What I get from Rush privately and what I get from Rush publicly are two different things. I’m just trying to break him down.”

So is the on-air Limbaugh just an act? The interview seems to suggest that. Traci Watson, who conducted the interview for USA Today, writes John believes that “his friend Rush Limbaugh doesn’t truly oppose gay marriage.”

Why is it so hard to imagine that two men with different politics can nevertheless respect one another and even be friends? Why is it so easy to assume that anyone who has differing opinions must be evil incarnate. Judging from the reader comments, there are far too many people who put politics above everything else, especially simple decency. This seems to be more of a problem on the Left than on the Right, perhaps because for many on the Left politics is a sort of substitute religion.

 

Chick-FIl-A Bullied

July 23, 2012

 

One of the reasons that I have opposed same-sex marriage, aside from the absurdity of the issue, is that I am certain that the activists supporting same-sex marriage will not be content with legalizing it but will insist that everyone, including churches, support it. I believe that churches which refuse to recognize same-sex marriage or to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, in other words denominations which uphold Biblical, Christian teachings, will find themselves harassed and bullied until they give in.

With the exception of the Church of Latter-Day Saints over proposition 8 in California, and the Roman Catholic Church in general, this has not happened, yet. But if you look at the trouble that fast-food restaurant Chick-Fil-A is in because its president and CEO Dan Cathy is opposed to same-sex marriage and does not happen to believe that homosexuality is the most wonderful thing ever. Keep in mind that no one has accused Chick-Fil-A of refusing service of discriminating against anyone. This is only about their political and religious opinions.

First, Jim Henson’s company has severed all business relations with Chick-Fil-A.

Last Friday, the company behind beloved shows such as “Fraggle Rock,” “Labyrinth,” and “The Muppets,” severed ties with Chick-Fil-A due to the fast food chain’s CEO’s opposition to same sex marriage.

According to “Muppets” fan site ToughPigs.com, The Jim Henson Company had partnered with Chick-Fil-A to feature Jim Henson’s Creature Shop toys — “essentially a plastic tube with cut-out features for customizing your own puppet” — in their kid’s meals from mid-July until August 18th.

However, on Friday, the Jim Henson Company posted the following statement to their Facebook page:

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.

It would seem that the Jim Henson company’s celebration of diversity and inclusiveness does not include celebrating and including diverse opinions. If you do not toe the politically correct line, than they won’t do business with you.

I can’t actually argue with this decision of the Jim Henson Company. They are a private business and are free to associate with whoever they want. It is a different matter when a government official discriminates against a business or person because of their opinions. Such is the case with the mayor of Boston.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is vowing to block Chick-fil-A from bringing its Southern-fried fast-food empire to Boston — possibly to a popular tourist spot just steps from the Freedom Trail — after the family-owned firm’s president suggested gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino told the Herald yesterday.

“That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”

Chick-fil-A has been swept up in a growing national controversy over company president Dan Cathy’s remarks questioning gay marriage and lauding the traditional family.

Chick-fil-A did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But the company released a statement yesterday saying it has a history of applying “biblically-based principles” to managing its business, such as closing on Sundays, and it insisted it does not discriminate.

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” the statement read. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

But that isn’t cutting the mustard with Menino. He said he plans to fire off a letter to the company’s Atlanta headquarters “telling them my feelings on the matter.”

If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies,”he warned.

He is not going to deny Chick-Fil-A a license because their business does not comply with the appropriate health and sanitary ordinances, but because he does not happen to agree with the opinions of their CEO. This is a gross abuse of power on the mayor’s part. Anyone who supports this action by Mayor Menino ought to consider that any power or privilege you grant to someone you support, can be used by someone you oppose. What if a mayor or governor announced that they would seek to prevent a “gay-friendly” company from doing business in their city or state. The same sort of people who cheer Mayor Menino on would have a fit. And yet, it works both ways.

Voltaire is supposed to have said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!”. The Jim Henson Company and Mayor Menino say rather,”I do not agree with what you say, and I will do my best to make your you don’t say it!”. These actions are nothing but shameful bullying meant to enforce politically correct opinions.

I can see, in the not too distant future, officials threatening to shut down, and people boycotting churches who do not agree to  same sex marriage. If they can harass a private businessman for merely stating his opinion, they will certainly harass churches. So much for freedom.

 

A Modest Proposal Concerning the Tragedy at Aurora

July 22, 2012
English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

Shut up!

I have been busy at work these past two days and have not had the time or energy to post anything about the horrible events at the theater in Aurora Colorado. I don’t have anything to add to the many news reports and commentaries, except to urge that people resist the temptation to blame anybody other than James Holmes, or to use this atrocity to push their political agendas. In particular, I wish that the gun control advocates would not exploit the shooting to call for stricter gun control laws which would not have stopped that madman.

I see that it is too much to ask. New York Mayor Bloomberg is leading the chorus in calling for gun control.

Some may argue for steering clear of political agendas in the wake of the shooting massacre at a Colorado movie theater—but for Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the issue is crystal clear: We need more gun control.

The New York City mayor called early Friday for both presidential candidates to go beyond offering condolences and say where they stand on the issue.

“Soothing words are nice,” said Bloomberg, “But maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

I wish that for once in his life, this demented control freak would just mind his own business.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon is joining in the act.

In comments posted on his Twitter account on Saturday, Calderon offered his condolences to the United States after a gunman went on the rampage with an assault rifle at a midnight premier of the new Batman film in Aurora, Colorado.

But Mexico’s president, who has repeatedly called on Washington to tighten gun controls to stop weapons flowing from the United States into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, said U.S. weapons policy needed a rethink after the killings.

“Because of the Aurora, Colorado tragedy, the American Congress must review its mistaken legislation on guns. It’s doing damage to us all,” Calderon said.

The presidency of Calderon, who leaves office at the end of November, has been overshadowed by his efforts to crack down on the drug gangs. Fighting among the cartels and their clashes with the state have killed more than 55,000 people since 2007.

Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, yet somehow this has not prevented drug cartels from turning sections of that country into war zones. If President Calderon is really interested in stopping the flow of arms to Mexico, perhaps he should ask President Obama about Operation Fast and Furious.

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, Presidente de México.

You too

 

Locke Vs. Hegel

July 19, 2012

I have been thinking a little about my post yesterday in which I described Barack Obama’s economic views as being essentially Marxist. I am not sure that is entirely correct. I don’t think that I was wrong, exactly, just that there seems to be a little more to the matter. Or, perhaps I was only thinking of his economic ideas without considering his political views.

What is a government? What image comes to mind when you hear that word? Perhaps a legislature or a president? Maybe buildings designed in a neo-classical style? Bureaucrats sitting at desks? All these examples are parts of government, but they are not government itself. What is government good for? Why do we have governments? No one really seems to like having them, so why do we bother with them?

Consider Thomas Jefferson’s famous words in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that when any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such forms, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Thomas Jefferson seems to have gotten his political philosophy from the English philosopher John Locke who lived from 1632 to 1704. (Yes, the character in Lost was named after him.) The foundation of Locke’s political beliefs was the idea of the social contract. Basically, he believed that governments are formed when people come together and create a government to protect their rights and take action for the common good. In other words, a government is essentially a contract between the governed and the rulers in which each side has duties and obligations.

Not this John Locke

 

This one

 

 

This is not a very sentimental view of government. Government is seen as a tool, an institution for the purpose of preserving the rights of the governed. Government may be necessary, but such necessity is at best a necessary evil, an adaptation to an imperfect world full of imperfect people. If the government ceases to fulfill its side to the contract, than the governed can and should get rid of it and make a new contract.

Now consider the following statements.

The state in and by itself is the ethical whole, the actualization of freedom; and it is an absolute end of reason that freedom should be actual. The state is mind on earth and consciously realizing itself there.

The march of God in the world, that is what the state is. In considering the Idea of the state, we must not have our eyes on particular states or on particular institutions. Instead we must consider the Idea, the actual God by itself.

To hold that every single person should hold share in deliberation and deciding on political matters of general concern on the ground that all individuals are members of the state, and its concerns are their concerns, and that it is their right that what is done should be done with their knowledge and volition, is tantamount  to a proposal to put the democratic element without any rational form into the organism of the state, although it is only in virtue of the possession of such a form that the state is an organism at all.

Hence the single person attains his actual and living destiny for universality only when he becomes a member of a Corporation, a society.

These were all excerpts from a book titled Philosophy of Law by a German Philosopher named Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

He never looks very happy.

Hegel lived from 1770 to 1831 and he has been enormously influential throughout the West, unfortunately. His writing is dense and hard to understand, even in English translation. I can hardly imagine what the original German must be like. I believe that he is saying that the government, or state, is more than an institution composed of individuals. The state is something somehow organic, an organism of sorts with its own existence. In fact, the state is a sort of idealization of human endeavor and it is only through the state that individuals can really attain to their full potential. Naturally, in Hegel’s view, the state does not require the consent of the governed and the governed do not really have any rights regarding the state. In other words, the state is kind of like the Village. We all live in it and through it and our individual lives and concerns are not important, only the State matters.

Hegel’s political philosophy has been, as I said, very influential especially on the European continent. Marx adapted them to his politics and it might be fair to say that every form of statism or totalitarianism owes some debt to Hegel. These same sorts of ideas have found a home in the Democratic Party and the Progressive movement generally. Every time Hilary Clinton says, “It takes a village”, or Barack Obama says, “You didn’t create your own business”, they are, most likely unconsciously, expressing Hegel’s ideas about the state and its relation to the individual. Seeing the matter this way explains quite a lot.

I need not add that this philosophy is a profoundly anti-American one, in the sense that it is diametrically opposed to the Lockean ideas that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are based upon. When Barack Obama says he wants to fundamentally transform America, he really, really means it.

Wealthy French Flee France

July 19, 2012

Who could have seen that happening? People don’t want to pay higher taxes if they don’t have to. Amazing. I read about this flight of the wealthy in The Telegraph.

The latest estate agency figures have shown large numbers of France’s most well-heeled families selling up and moving to neighbouring countries.

Many are fleeing a proposed new higher tax rateof 75 per cent on all earnings over one million euros. (£780,000)

The previous top tax bracket of 41 per cent on earnings over 72,000 euros is also set to increase to 45 per cent.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is delighted by this exodus.

Prime minister David Cameron angered the French last month when he said he would “roll out the red carpet” to wealthy French citizens and firms who wanted move out and pay their taxes in Britain. He told the B20 business summit in Mexico in June: “I think it’s wrong to have a completely uncompetitive top rate of tax.

“If the French go ahead with a 75 per cent top rate of tax we will roll out the red carpet and welcome more French businesses to Britain and they can pay tax in Britain and pay for our health service and schools and everything else.”

At this point, I would like to go back a little in history. Andrew Mellon was the Secretary of the Treasury back in the 1920’s. He served under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. When he first became Secretary, in 1921, the highest tax rate was 73%. He proposed dropping the rate to 25%. America was in the middle of a bad depression then and many people were afraid that such tax cuts for the wealthy would lead to a loss in revenue for the government. Mellon responded that it was better to have a low tax rate that people actually pay than a high tax rate that people evade. It turned out that he was right.

I hope that Barack Obama is paying attention to these lessons. I have a feeling that he cares more about punishing the evil millionaires and billionaires than in maximizing revenue to the government.

Bain

July 18, 2012

Since Barack Obama cannot run on his sterling economic record, he has taken to attacking Mitt Romney. Actually, I have no objection to negative campaigning. I think a politician should highlight the short comings of his opponent. After all, if his opponent is a wonderful guy, why is he running against him? And frankly, I think politicians today are wimps when it comes to attacking their opponents.

 

 

Still, isn’t it interesting that Romney is being attacked not for failing at his previous position as head of Bain Capital, but for being successful? He is assailed not as someone who cannot handle the complicated business of the Presidency, but as someone who has been successful at handling nearly everything he has been in charge of. In other words, the argument is that he is rich and has made money, therefore he is a bad person.

I suppose it is preferable to have a president with no private sector experience and absolutely no experience at running anything at all.

Some might argue that Romney was an evil vulture capitalist. Well, as far as I can understand it, and I am no businessman, Bain Capital’s business was and is to buy companies in financial trouble and apply consulting techniques from its parent company Bain & Company to turn the company around and restore it to profitability. Layoffs were often a necessary part of this process. This was unfortunate for those laid off, and I would hate to have to look for a job, especially in the current economy, yet layoffs are a necessary part of the creative destruction that makes the American economy so dynamic. It is hard to say how successful Bain Capital actually was. It seems to have made a fairly decent profit and continues to make acquisitions. Romney seems to have done a good job running the business, but again I am no businessman.

I don’t think that Romney should be defensive about his tenure at Bain Capital. As far as I can determine, he did nothing illegal or immoral there. He hardly resembles Ebenezer Scrooge. He has done nothing be ashamed of. Rather, he needs to go on the offensive and ask how Barack Obama expects to end this recession while attacking the people and business that can actually make it happen.

Why is this important?

It Takes a Village

July 18, 2012

to build a business. That seems to be what Barack Obama thinks. Actually, the Republicans are making a little more out of his statement than they really should. He didn’t precisely say, “you didn’t build your business”. What he did say is somewhat intriguing. Here is part of President Obama’s statement which puts his remarks in a fuller context.

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

In an important sense, President Obama is right. No great enterprise is ever accomplished by one person working entirely by himself. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but he hardly built his laboratory all by himself. He did not think up the idea all by himself but he built on the work of others who had worked before him. Albert Einstein did not just write e=mc² on a chalkboard one day. He built on the work that physicists had been doing for the past decade. No one does anything truly by themselves.

And yet, Obama is wrong too, and the way that he is wrong perhaps says something about the way he views the world. We justly honor people like Edison and Einstein because although they built on the work of others, they put that work together in new ways to create something altogether new and wonderful. Without such innovators, the work of others that they used would not have been used to its full potential.

A business person, entrepeneur, or capitalist also makes use of the work of others, just as Obama has said. What he did not say is that the capitalist makes use of the existing work, or investments, or factors of production, such as labor, land,  and capital to use economics jargon to make something new and wonderful, just as the inventor or scientist does. In fact, the capitalist, by bringing together the labor, capital and resources to make a business is the one indispensible person in making any sort of progress. Without the capitalist, there are no factories, no trade, no goods and services being exchanged for the good of everyone.

This understanding of capitalists seems to be directly opposite Marx’s understanding. If I understand him correctly, he believed that capitalists were a sort of parasite that leached off what the workers produced. Instead of profit being the just reward of the ones who took the risks and put everything together, he believed that it was what was stolen from those who did all the real work. I do not wish to speculate too much on the President’s inner thoughts, but I strongly suspect that this his close to his understanding of things as well.

Now, note, I am not saying that Obama is a Communist or a Marxist. I am not sure that he would identify himself as a Marxist in any sort of formal sense. Nevertheless, such ideas were and are very much a part of the academic environment in which he lived before turning to politics. With his background, it would be surprising if Obama did not fail to appreciate fully the importance of private enterprise.

He is wrong in another sense too. Firstly, I am not sure he is aware of the fact that government has no actual resources of its own. Everything he wants to give credit to the government for accomplishing, was ultimately paid for with taxes from the private sector. Sometimes, it is a good idea to take money for the common good, roads and armies come to mind as examples. Other times it is a terrible idea, think Solyndra, or stimulus packages.

Secondly, look closely at his statement. Notice that he seems to believe that collective action is only possible through the state. Consider his example of fire fighting. I can imaging fighting fires without a formal government organization. What about a volunteer fire company? How about a private fire fighting service that the people in a town pay a fee for? These examples may not work very well, but I want to illustrate that it is possible for people to work together without the federal government running things. It is possible to help the disadvantaged through private charities. Businesses are usually very good examples of people working together voluntarily.

It is this particular blind spot that I think Obama’s statement really reveals. This idea that nothing should be done unless government, preferably at the highest levels, is leading the way. I think that Obama simply does not see the importance of the voluntary associations that Alexis de Tocqueville saw as so essential to American success, and so misunderstands the factors that have made America what it is. This is the real problem with this president.

I am glad to see that I am not the only one who has described Obama’s economic views as essentially Marxist.


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