[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Strap yourself in because it’s a long one and my language gets a little coarse as we go on. Seriously, you try reading this speech without cursing and/or throwing something…
So yesterday the President made a speech at George Washington University outlining how he would somehow save $4 Trillion from the deficit, in 12 years, as speech the Wall Street Journal said “was dishonest even by modern political standards.” (And you should read the WSJ’s editorial, too.) So let’s go through it together, shall we?
Now first he has some introductory B.S., the kind of crap that any politician will have at the beginning of the speech before we get to the meat of it:
From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America’s wealth and prosperity. More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.
Of course this is straight from the Obama book of political tactics where he says something that is unobjectionable, that suggests he “gets it.” And as usual when he says this sort of thing. a few paragraphs later you will see that he doesn’t really believe in the reasonable principles he just enunciated.
But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation. We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.
Well, this is a quibble, but those aren’t quite his words. Here are his words:
The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people cannot do, or cannot well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions.
The first—that in relation to wrongs—embraces all crimes, misdemeanors and non-performance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.
If you are not going to quote him, Mr. President, make it more clear that you are not quoting him.
But it seems to be a reasonable paraphrase. The problem is that he doesn’t really adhere to the limitation—the requirement that it has to be something we cannot do this well for ourselves. I mean either that or he thinks the vast majority of us are really not capable of very much. And simultaneously one has to believe the government will do better, which is also often a dubious assertion.
And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens.
Yeah, how are those public schools working out, Mr. President?
We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce.
Actually the vast majority of the growth in the railroad has been by private industry with subsidies from the government.
We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire industries.
Most of which was actually done privately.
Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security.
And thus each and every one of you will get a free pony.
We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us.
Really, Mr. President, and that is the only reason why dependency exists? How about the knowledge that if you frak things up, the safety net will be there to catch you? How about people who just decide its easier to game the system than to be prosperous? What about them?
“There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work;
It only guarantees it if it works financially. And it doesn’t.
And notice the attitude that success or failure in life is purely a matter of chance.
unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss;
And simultaneously increases the cost of hiring a new worker, making companies less willing to hire.
and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities.
So according to him, Medicaid is for not for all seniors, but the ones in nursing homes. And not for all children, but for poor ones. But, on the other hand, everyone with disabilities. In his mind, every single disabled person is a ward of the state.
Well, this disabled person is not, jerk.
And that is not the only time he says that, as you will see.