Obama to award Medal of Freedom to 15, including investor Buffett … President Obama will award the Medal of Freedom to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, one of 15 recipients who will be given the country's highest civilian honor, the White House said … Among the other Medal of Freedom recipients will be former president George H.W. Bush; German Chancellor Angela Merkel … poet Maya Angelou … and labor chief John Sweeney. – Washington Post
Dominant Social Theme: The US government is at again, honoring the VIPs that mean the most to the American people.
Free-Market Analysis: We are reminded of a certain book when we read who is getting freedom medals from Barack Obama; but more on that at the end of this article. Warren Buffet is a kind of Keynesian socialist in our humble view, while George H. W. Bush is the former head of the CIA (as well as a former president), Angela Merkel is the quasi-socialist head of a combined Germany, Maya Angelou, a fine writer, is an activist feminist (by sympathy if not profession); labor chief John Sweeney was the president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009.
All of these people in their own way have seemingly advocated using the force of government to support policies that they prefer. In fact, it strikes us that these medals support a kind of sub-dominant social theme – that freedom has to do (somehow) with empowering state activism, whether through financial regulation, government intelligences ops, feminist activism or labor law.
Start with Buffet. Here is a man who constantly campaigns for increased taxes to be placed on US citizens, identifies himself as a Democrat and is worth something like US$50 billion. He poses as an investor, but really he makes "investments" in businesses that have hidden economic advantages, usually via regulatory loopholes. Of course Buffet may seem free-market oriented in the sense that he has made a fabulous fortune in the "investment game" – but when one examines his criteria for picking companies, it becomes obvious that one of them is mercantilism.
This means that Buffet values companies that in some way have developed access to the US government at state or federal levels and can pull levers of power available to no one else. Buffet is thus not investing in companies that necessarily have a better widget. He is putting his money into companies that are interacting most efficiently with government. He is not in his investing making a principled stand for entrepreneurialism or free markets but seeks out firms that have best exploited the current socialist and leveling environment of the US. It is difficult to reconcile this investment philosophy with freedom.
Former President George H. W. Bush is a power player of the highest order, the scion of a family that was involved with financial support for pre-war Nazi Germany and who participated throughout his career in anti-freedom intelligence operations, especially with the CIA which he used to run. The CIA in particular has been involved in all sorts of "black ops" operations that involve the murder of foreign officials, the installation of totalitarian regimes in foreign countries (so long as they were friendly to the US) and even, apparently, drug running and drug sales to raise money for unfunded operations that Congress had no knowledge of.
Much of what George H.W. Bush participated in throughout his career was profoundly undemocratic and anti-freedom. In fact, such philosophies likely lead to more and more abuses and violence. It is not coincidence in our view that after a modern era that has seen 12 years of presidential rule by the Bush family, the US is embroiled in two hot wars and several more pending cold wars. Violence, assassination and serial warfare supported by Bush senior and junior are legacies that do not necessarily support freedom and that we would argue are in fact antithetical to it.
Angela Merkel, the current Chancellor of Germany, has shown herself of late to be a primary supporter of the European Union and a proponent of its ever-more authoritarian grasp over the sinking nation-states of what once was a freer Europe. The EU itself is a profoundly corrupt institution, one that has not allowed itself an audit in years. Meanwhile, it seems to make up the rules as it goes. Its senior leaders are unelected by the larger population and the EU now has a history of insisting on election "do-overs" when the popular vote goes against it.
While the EU itself was growing steadily more unpopular in the past decade as a result of its increasingly arrogant use of power, the past two years of financial crisis have shown the depth of its dysfunction. The euro currency itself that demands certain levels of governmental fiscal restraint is virtually unworkable in the South of Europe where cultural differences toward government engender outcomes that are much different than those in the North.
What is the result? The EU is doing its best to "crack down" on taxes and governmental corruption among the PIGS countries while ignoring the pervasive corruption within its own halls. This is not the hallmark of an admirable organization but of a dysfunctional enterprise that bullies others while exempting itself from similar standards. This is the enterprise that Ms. Merkel wholeheartedly stands behind and freedom is not a word we use to describe it.
Maya Angelou is a fine writer who is a pioneer in black prose for the early 20th century. Given what she went through as a person and how far she has traveled within the arc of her success, she no doubt deserves a freedom medal more than most. We don't want to in any way criticize a person who has built a successful artistic career from virtually nothing and who has made her own way in life without, initially anyway, help from others.
But what we WOULD point out is that it is very fashionable in the literary community to reward certain kinds of writers and to popularize certain kinds of writing. Ms. Angelou strikes many of the chords that are most fashionable in American literature these days. She is of African American descent, is a woman, has experimented with alternative lifestyles and sex and has experienced great poverty. We would not begrudge Ms. Angelou a smidgen of her success, but we wonder if she were white, male and wealthy – and had written commensurate literature – whether she (he) would still be feted with the same level of enthusiasm. Surely she deserves a medal, but freedom perhaps has not a great deal to do with it.
Finally, there is John Sweeney, a union leader for what has got to be the most corrupt, or one of the most corrupt, unions in America. The AFL-CIO has been behind the modern union movement for years and it is certainly an open question as to whether the union movement has, ultimately, been an unadulterated (or even adulterated) good for working people in the US and throughout the West. Too often, it seems to us, the union movement has conspired to keep workers OUT of well-paying jobs and has even helped destroy companies that will not agree to its inevitably escalating demands.
Just yesterday, as we composed this article, there were reports that Americans were fleeing highly taxed and unionized states to go to states that did not have much union presence, presumably because there were more opportunities there. One can argue about the net-positives that unions bring to the workplace and worker, but over time it seems that unions have negative employment impacts. Though workers increasingly reject unionism, and the movement has shriveled in the private sector, it has grown in the public sector via laws that mandate its adoption and effectiveness. The largest unions are now mostly to be found in government – helping to get out the vote for their legislative supporters. We see little in this that involves freedom or warrants a medal for it.
We suppose we should mention Barack Obama here as well. Obama has not done very well as a president, perhaps because he believes in the solutions of American progressivism, which are all quasi-Marxist and collectivist in nature. The American economy is currently a US$3 trillion plus Leviathan with an invasive and authoritarian intelligence community that wiretaps at will at all levels of society, a prison-industrial complex that runs on the virtual slave labor of 3-6 million inmates, a serial war wager utilizing depleted uranium weapons that poison (literally) whole countries, and a leader of the Western world's central banking economy that has brought ruin to every society that adopts it.
Barack Obama not only apparently endorses what America has become, he recently socialized more fully another sixth of the American economy with his health care bill. We are not sure how this supports "freedom" – or what freedom even means within this context. We also note that he is handing out freedom medals to people whose careers from our humble point of view are somewhat anti-freedom.
The US, in fact, used to stand for freedom and may one day again. But for now, the US seems to us to be firmly in the clutches of a shadowy Anglo-American, familial, banking elite that is dedicated to expanding government and in fact lessening freedom in pursuit of one-world government. This elite uses every tool at its disposal to promote its one-world agenda and tries to portray authoritarian measures as those that support or even increase freedom.
We started out this article by writing that the distribution of freedom medals to people who, at least in some cases, do not seem interested in the slightest in encouraging freedom reminded us of a certain book. Here is a quote from it. It is very famous and you should be able to figure it out quickly. As follows:
It was as though the world had turned upside-down … Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering.
"My sight is failing," she said finally. "Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?"
For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.