Guided By the Heavy Hand of Government

Wednesday was one of the more hilarious days in recent memory.  President Obama gave a speech on the economy.  As a Reuters article put it, the speech “sought to inject momentum into his economic and domestic policy agenda.”

It didn’t.  Instead the speech reminded us what a jester the nation’s number one man is…

Certainly, there have been worse presidents.  Surely, there have been dumber presidents.  But never before has there been a president that was so doggone funny.

The mere glance at the man gives us a belly guffaw.  Yet when he opens his mouth we double over in sidesplitting laughter.  We howl in anticipation of the wicked punch line that never comes.  You know what we mean…

Obama’s reverse syntax and rhetoric is always smooth and polished.  Yet his substance is rutted and coarse.  The juxtaposition of two produces a comedic delivery even Steve Martin would be envious of.  What’s more, when speaking on the economy, the laughs reach a fever pitch.

Obama’s Plan to Save the Middle Class

Fortunately, there will be plenty of laughs to be had in the weeks ahead…Obama has a plan to save the middle class.

“Over the next several weeks,” said Obama, “in towns across this country, I will be engaging the American people in this debate.  I’ll lay out my ideas for how we build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, and what it takes to work your way into the middle class in America:

“Job security, with good wages and durable industries.  A good education.  A home to call your own.  Affordable health care when you get sick.  A secure retirement even if you’re not rich.  Reducing poverty.  Reducing inequality.  Growing opportunity.  That’s what we need.  That’s what we need.  That’s what we need right now.  That’s what we need to be focused on.”

Naturally, this all sounds well.  But, for the most part, these are things people must achieve on their own.  Government policy certainly won’t give it to them.  Nonetheless, President Obama elaborated on his plan to save the middle class…

“I’ll call CEOs; I’ll call philanthropists; I’ll call college presidents; I’ll call labor leaders.  I’ll call anybody who can help — and enlist them in our efforts.”

Guided By the Heavy Hand of Government

Regrettably, Obama neglected to mention what he would say to these people.  Would he ask CEOs to hire your nephew?  Would he propose that college presidents knock the tuition costs down a few thousand bucks?

What about philanthropists?  Should they donate money to pay for your retirement?  Should labor leaders rally together to double the number of coffee breaks and vacation days?

Surely you can see the rich comedy in it all.  For Obama thinks if he can just get people to do what he wants the money problem will be solved.  Thus he misses the point of markets and an open economy to begin with…and in the process he says the most outrageous things.

Somehow it never occurred to Obama that through free exchange, self-interest and creative pursuits people get what they want.  “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner,” noted Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, “but from their regard to their own interest.”

But in Obama’s world this sort of randomness must be improved.  What we mean is, in the year 2013, the economy’s hardly free.  Markets are not guided by an invisible hand, as first elaborated by Smith.  Rather, they are guided by the heavy hand of government…

A heavy hand of government that’s driving the middle class straight to hell.

Sincerely,

MN Gordon
for Economic Prism

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