During the rather brief and confusing discussion about bailing out automakers President Obama announced with his characteristic misplaced righteousness that we "will not turn our backs on one of America's basic industries." Of course, Mr. Obama and his cheerleaders do not mean that they will dip into their resources and provide help nor do they mention that what he means is that he wouldn't allow any American citizen to do so even if that seems a wise decision. In other words, in his typically collectivist thinking, he believed that his desire to bail out an industry with other people's resources is virtuous and must be made public policy. Everyone else must be forced to follow suit.
Obama hasn't the funds to bail out anyone, of course. In fact, neither does the United States of America, considering that the US Treasury is empty, running on promissory notes, the faith and hope that members of future generations will be productive enough for them to be ready to be robbed of their incomes and savings so as to fund what Mr. Obama believes is important to fund, such as bailouts for banks and car companies. And he proudly proclaims this to be a praiseworthy idea, him using our resources to fund his pet projects. And just when he wanted to capitalize on some minor rejuvenation in the auto industry, that industry started to falter again and cost taxpayers several billion dollars.
Like a monarch, Mr. Obama sees the country's wealth to be his wealth. He has no respect for private property rights – all property belongs, as argued by his favorite political philosophers Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel (in their book, The Myth of Ownership), to the country and is not the property of the citizens of the country!
Monarchs were under the impression – or delusion – that they were authorized by God to rule a country (and they still are in many regions of the globe). But that myth is slowly fading away. It has been replaced by the one that holds that all property belongs to the people, to everyone together. Never mind that this idea has been one of the most destructive economic notions in human political history. Never mind that it implies that working people everywhere belong to the state. It is in any case a disastrous notion.
For one, it invites the tragedy of the commons, with everyone thinking he or she has unrestricted access to everything of value, with no need to pay for it, to replace it, to care for it – someone else will do it all. As Aristotle observed a very long time ago (yet few heeded his counsel), "For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfill; as in families many attendants are often less useful than a few." (Politics, 1262a30-37).
Which explains pretty well why Mr. Obama can treat the national wealth as if it grew on trees and didn't need to be cared for. He is not turning his back on any of his favorite citizens because it isn't really his back but ours and he seriously believes that he is authorized – not by God this time but by a collectivist philosophy – to use us and our labors to his heart's content.
If there was one item over which the Cold War was fought it was individualism versus collectivism. Ronald Reagan and his supporters believed individualism won but they were wrong. Sadly, the West was already too corrupted by collectivist ideas, such as the welfare state and communitarianism, so although the Soviet Union collapsed, the ideas which it tried to implement throughout the world are now in command of public affairs nearly everywhere.
This need not continue to be so but unless people wake up to just how insidious the collectivist idea is, it will, to quote a famous communist, Nikita Khrushchev, bury us all.
And speaking of statism …
A Brief Note on Whether Government Makes Successful Market Agents
The question could be compared to, "Do the referees make athletes win in their races?" True, referees do serve a vital purpose, namely, to discourage misconduct, the violation of the rules, etc. Governments at their best – but sadly very rarely – act similarly. They are fighting crimes in society and that opens the road for peaceful citizens to go about their tasks with greater likelihood of success, including in their business or professional ventures.
But Mr. Obama has insisted, fallaciously, that this is the reason why those like Mitt Romney succeed in business. That is just wrong. It may be a necessary condition of success in the marketplace that crimes are kept to the minimum but it is by no means sufficient. Indeed, both bona fide winning and losing require law enforcement, precisely as in athletic competitions.
Mr. Obama's claim that government is responsible for winning in the marketplace implies, incidentally, that legitimate government is responsible for some competitors losing in the marketplace. Blame the referees for both the wins and the losses! This is clearly absurd. The president's eagerness to discredit productivity, entrepreneurship, savvy and plain hard work and to credit governments – i.e., politicians, bureaucrats and such – for the economic successes of market agents is desperate.
Statism shows its impoverishment by Mr. Obama's use of such neologism.