Friday, February 17, 2012

Early in the morning on February 17th, 2012

Contrast the words below, from President Reagan's first inaugural address, with the paragraphs I quoted in my previous post about President Obama's State of the Union speech.
"From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we are sick—professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truckdrivers. They are, in short, "We the people," this breed called Americans."
Whereas President Obama sees the government as the agent that defends the citizens against any and all injustices, President Reagan recognizes that it can also be the oppressor, and that this tendency must be constantly monitored and defended against.  The idea that governance could be better and more fairly conducted by "experts" is the basis for the progressive/liberal movement, but in the Obama administration there has been less emphasis on experts running the government "better", and more on experts running the government "meaner".  Meaning that the modern progressive sees the system as rigged against the ordinary citizen--rigged by special interest groups, rigged by rich people, rigged by corporations (owned by rich people), and rigged even by the environment itself (which they say is changing in ways that will be detrimental, even devastating to the average person, caused of course by corporations owned by rich people).  The response of the Obama administration to this malevolent universe is to punish those responsible by making them "pay their fair share".  And honestly, there are many ordinary citizens who have no interest in liberal/progressive ideology who see the system as rigged against them also, and they would be right.  The system is rife with carve-outs, loopholes, special deals, special rules, accommodations, and dispensations.  But here is the paradox.

President Obama's proposals to add more of the same, to add regulation and penalty that will tip the scales in favor of the little guy, only guarantee the perpetuation of the special interest politics that are a plague on us all.  Big government begets special interest politics.  Why?  Because if the government is in your business, then it is in your interest to lobby and twist the proposed rules to your advantage.  If the government leaves you alone, the reasons to lobby for advantage are diminished and your success depends to a greater degree on your own energy, creativity and intelligence.  Smaller government leaves us closer to the meritocracy we are supposed to be.

In the long term, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can only be secured through President Reagan's trust in everyday Americans, and it can only be lost through President Obama's trust in his experts.

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