“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” – Ronald Reagan.
Last month, President Barak Obama gave his third State of the Union address. In that speech, he began by reminding us of the end of the war in Iraq, which culminated in the death of Osama Bin Laden. He also discussed problems of the economy in the areas of the auto industry, outsourcing in American businesses, unemployment, education reform, immigration, and alternative energy, among other things. He argued that everyone deserved their “fair share” in the economy and he discussed what he termed “shared responsibility” – where everyone does their part to restore the economy. He also called for “smart regulations.”
Now, President Obama may very likely be sincere, from what I see. He firmly believes that there should be further regulation, increased taxes on the rich, and that struggling corporations should receive “incentives” or bailouts to get them back on their feet. If his dedication as sincere and he portrays, then I applaud him. I also applaud his rhetoric – if only more Americans understood the art of effective public speaking. I also acknowledge that his administration was responsible, largely, for the successful mission against Bin Laden. However, as many of the news commentators observed after the address, this speech sounded more like one expected at the start of a term of office, not a speech delivered three years into a presidency. His track record to date has been poor and I find no real reason to believe that further stimulation of the economy, through government bailouts, is the right course of action. Even if this were the case, though, I would still be forced to speak against these policies, because, though the President’s policies appear inspirational and hopeful, the cost to our national principles if they were implemented would be far too high.
There is a deeper problem here than a concern over poor policy, there is a fundamental issue over expanding government and abuse of power. The office of the President of the United States does not carry with it infinite authority. The United States of America is a nation founded on Federalism. In this nation, there are various levels of government (Federal, State, and local), and three branches at each level (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial). The powers of the federal government are outlined clearly in the U.S. Constitution. This separation of powers is essential to preserving liberty and success in America. Unfortunately, President Obama’s statements in his speech showed a blatant disregard for the principles of liberty that our founder’s died to defend – principles that our protected by the United States Constitution.
While arguing for “fair share” is simple and seems self-apparent, there are great implications in the matter – chiefly, who decides what is fair? If the government is the answer, then I absolutely declare that I donot support this policy. For literally thousands of years, political theories have raged about the role of government – and how opportunity and freedom should be weighed against regulation. President Obama’s blind faith in the quality of government determination is frightening to me. It reminds me strongly of Plato’s “philosopher king” –where the elite and enlightened individual rules because of his superior intellect qualifies him for determining societal goods. This reasoning quickly morphs into the more contemporary socialist beliefs that are detrimental to the principles that our Founders fought to protect.
The Founding Fathers of the United States had a remarkable distrust of government – perhaps more so than any other individuals in history. While they ultimately acknowledged the need for some centralized government, they also feared that such an entity could quickly become a tyrant from the same mold as their previous oppressor –Great Britain. The solution our Founders ultimately decided upon would be known as a grand compromise –establishing a federalist form of government –with a centralized federal government with specified roles outlined in the Constitution, and a much stronger state participation in government. In fact, the Constitution declares, in the 10th Amendment that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (10th Amendment).
So, in conclusion, though I admire President Obama’s commitment, I find myself opposed to his methodology because it contradicts the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded, and instead holds to a political philosophy that has been tried countless times – and failed just as often. He is crossing the line. Fairness and equality are not something that can be regulated by government –when they are, the very freedoms that our nation was formed to protect are violated. Fairness in economic opportunity comes at a cost – some people will succeed in business endeavors and others will fail, and this is a sad truth about capitalism –however, I truly believe that a free society that allows the market to determine what is economically “fair” is a much better determinant than government regulation. The principles of liberty, freedom and justice are deeply rooted in the moral integrity of a nation. We must hold to the principles that made America great. As Alexis de Touqville said in his book Democracy in America, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~John Adams