2012 may be remembered as the year that Barack Obama dropped the mask. Based on his remarks at a campaign stop in Roanoke, Virginia on Friday, the president has no interest in making his peace with America’s entrepreneurs. In fact, his remarks there should make their blood run cold:
We’ve heard this rap before. It sounds suspiciously like Elizabeth Warren’s pep talk to a room full of agitated Boston liberals. But, if anything, Obama’s remarks are actually worse. Warren didn’t go so far as to denigrate hard work and intelligence, which the president seems to consider middling factors when it comes to being successful in life (note to the president: I’d absolutely love to meet these armies of workaholic geniuses who wouldn’t be succeeding without the federal government).
The asininity per square inch of this speech is pretty daunting, but here are a few corrective notes:
- Notice the examples Obama uses — teachers, firefighters, and infrastructure. These are all (by relatively expansive definitions, anyway) public goods. If there were a caucus of conservatives out there advocating boarding up schools, abolishing fire departments, and moving to a system of rope bridges, the president would have a point, but these are generally uncontroversial examples of public expenditures. Moreover, they’re not areas that are primarily financed by the federal government. Left unsaid is why taxes should increase to fund green-energy boondoggles like Solyndra, PR efforts for the stimulus package, or six-figure salaries for the Interior Department’s Twitter monkey.
- The constant liberal assertion that the economic growth of the 1990s — coming on the heels of Bill Clinton’s tax increases — shows that taxes don’t effect the broader economy confuses correlation with causation and ignores the effects of NAFTA, the IT revolution, welfare reform, etc. In truth, the 90s likely boomed less than they would have without Clinton’s tax hikes, something that the work of Obama’s own economic advisers suggests.
- Liberals love to trot out the example of the internet as government innovation that works, but it’s worth noting that the internet wasn’t designed with commercial purposes in mind, but rather as a communications tool for the military. And, in fact, many of the lingering inefficiencies of the internet stem from its government paternity, and a whole host of the improvements that have been made to it owe to market forces.