"It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will." ~ Adam Smith
We're All Irresponsible Now
Exclusive to STR
On Wednesday, January 27th, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, delivered his first State of the Union message to its citizens (and “illegal” aliens), all three hundred million plus of us. Besides all the usual empty rhetoric, platitudes and clichés, there was a sentence in Mr. Obama’s speech that was very telling of his audacity and that of many in power:
“Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that for too long, we have not always met these responsibilities – as a government or as a people.”
I have rarely seen any politician be honest with anyone, including himself. But to accuse you or me of not meeting our responsibilities without ever having met “us” is one of the most audacious, arrogant and defamatory statements I have ever heard (maybe not so bad if you consider the source.)
And what responsibilities have “we” avoided?
Did “we” dole out someone else’s money to corporate fat cats at our neighbors’ expense? If memory serves me right, it was this and prior administrations, with the complicity of the Congress, that have handed our money over to entities and individuals who have, through their own shortcomings and irresponsible behavior, failed.
Have “we” printed and created currency out of thin air? Rest assured if anyone reading this (other than Ben Bernanke, Paul Volker or Alan Greenspan) had done so, he would be reading this from inside a federal penitentiary. It was the Federal Reserve with the complicity of Mr. Obama and those that preceded him that our currency has come to be the equivalent of that used to play Monopoly.
Did “we” create Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, relax their lending standards, and with a wink and a nod let some folks know that the federal government would bail them out in a pinch? I surely didn’t, and unless you’re Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Baines Johnson, George Walker Bush, Barney Frank or his “very special friend” Herb Moses, you probably didn’t, either.
Did “we” declare war on Iraq or Vietnam (did anybody)? Have any of “us” sent troops abroad to die for dubious reasons? Some may have gone following orders, but unless you are or were a president, congressman or senator, the short answer is no.
Did “we” create the income tax and the IRS? I surely didn’t, and unless you are Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson or Nelson Aldrich, chances are you didn’t either.
Did “we” create and nurture a two party system? On this one, those of “us” who vote for candidates of either of these two parties share the blame, but by no means does that include all of “us.”
Did “we” gerrymander districts in order to assure victory for one party or another? Unless you’re Elderbridge Gerry or one of his political spawn, you probably had nothing to do with it.
Granted, those who voted for these grandstanding politicians share some of the blame, but I have never witnessed an election (outside of Cuba) where anyone wins with 100% of the vote or where 100% of the population actually votes (except in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, where sometimes 110% of the population votes).
The most troubling aspect of Obama’s statement is that it shows he views us not as individuals but as members of a collective. To him, it does not matter what your actions are as an individual; you are responsible for the actions of those around you whether you agree with them or not.
Of greater concern is the fact that this collective mentality exists with politicians on both sides of the aisle; the only difference is on which issues they apply it. Whether it be poverty, health care or war, “we” are viewed as responsible for behavior of others and are expected to act in unison.
Some of you may cheat on your taxes (I don’t since I write these rants, so much for free speech) or occasionally skip putting money in the parking meter. You may not separate your recyclables, or tell your spouse exactly how much you spent on that new big screen TV or that new dress--but all that pales in comparison with what politicians do to “us” on a daily basis.
Regardless of all that, Obama and many other politicians view you as part of some clueless, irresponsible hoard. (You voted for them, didn’t you?) That’s probably why they don’t feel any guilt when they take your money and lie to you, but at least you can take solace in the fact that your are not considered part of the “axis of evil” (at least not for now).