In his Weekly Address yesterday, Obama said, “I didn’t come here to do the same things we’ve been doing … .” After all, Obama is for “change.”
Before Obama took over the country, and even before Bush’s 2008 financial bailouts, federal, state, and local governments were spending the astronomical sum of roughly $5 trillion dollars a year on the welfare state (programs other than the military, police, and courts). That’s roughly 50 times what we are spending in Iraq. It’s more than six times what we spend on the entire military, even with Iraq. (Remember how Obama campaigned on how rosy life would be here at home if we weren’t spending all that money in Iraq—“I’ll stop spending $9 billion a month in Iraq”?)
So what’s Obama’s “change”? He’s changing five trillion to six trillion. Instead of spending the equivalent of 50 “wars” in Iraq, he’s going to give us 60 wars; 60 wars on poverty.
Our government has been fighting the “War On Poverty” for the past 45 years. How’s it going? According to Obama and friends, it’s not working; we need a surge. Five trillion a year—which is $17,000 per American or $67,000 per family of four—is not enough. Oh, wait: Only about half the people in the country actually get most of this welfare, so the average recipient family of four is getting roughly $125,000 a year—in housing, health care, “education,” food, take-out food, TV, cable TV, cell phones, drug money, etc. But still, we’ve got to bump that up by another 20%, to $150,000 a year. And if we get CEOs to stop spending money on things like jets and hotels, and if we stop the rich from keeping their own money through “tax breaks,” we’ll have enough money to pay poor families the $150,000 a year they need.
Imagine life today if America had not been a welfare state for the past 45 years. Those trillions, invested over the years by the free individuals who earned them, would be worth roughly $200 trillion today. In other words, total net worth of Americans would be about five times what it is today. Since income is mainly a function of capital, that means that average income today would be five times what it actually is. Consider also that if we were not giving roughly half our income to the welfare state, disposable income would double again. Imagine too that the government had not embarked on the past 45 years of new, oppressive regulations, now totaling more than 70,000 pages at the federal level. In all, incomes today would be more than 10 times what they actually are. A person could work one day a week and make twice as much as what he makes now full-time. And we have no way of knowing what life-enhancing products Americans would have created.
But far more important than aggregate income or new products is that each individual would own what he had earned.
The loss of that prosperity and that freedom is the price we have paid for the welfare state.
Five trillion a year on the welfare state has not “worked” even in helping the poor, just as four trillion and three trillion did not work. People are still poor, the middle class is joining them, and no one at any economic level is free anymore. When Obama’s six trillion does not work, what do you think he will try next? Will he ever “change” his mind and ask, “Maybe I’ve been changing in the wrong direction”; “maybe I have the wrong ideas”?
No. According to Obama, he has no mind. He has no “ideology.” Obama tells us that he is a “pragmatist.” According to the philosophy of Pragmatism, what we call “truth” is what “works”; when something does not work, we keep changing, trying new things until some new thing does works. In other words, the method of a pragmatist is trial and error. Obama, according to Obama, has the epistemology of a monkey.
And Obama is not alone. Millions of Americans voted for a guy who campaigned on the vacuous slogans of “Change” and “Hope.” Oh wait: He explained what he meant by change; it’s “Change We Need” (because we don’t need change we don’t need), and “Change We Can Believe In” (because it’s no good to have change we can’t believe in, right?).
The antidote to Obama goes deeper than politics. America needs a renaissance of reason. In a rational society, people would not vote for such a demagogue.
The leader of the renaissance of reason, advancing the rational tradition of Aristotle (the father of the first Renaissance), is Ayn Rand.
America prospered in the 1980s and 1990s despite Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. The essential cause was Ayn Rand.
Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I thought a businessman was a man who owned something like the corner candy store. I did not know what an executive was, and I certainly did not know the name of one. I never imagined that business was a profession, like law or medicine, and I did not hear of business school until I was a sophomore in college. But thanks to Ayn Rand, entrepreneurs became viewed as heroic figures of rational, independent intellect. Young people aspired to emulate them, and did. Even I tried, though the task proved too difficult for me.
America needs Ayn Rand now more than ever, if it’s not too late. Whether there is still time is a question perhaps as suspenseful as Atlas Shrugged.