[But these people] are your equals! They are intelligent and free human beings like yourselves! As you have, they too have received from God the faculty to observe, to plan ahead, to think, and to judge for themselves."
Bastiat spares no prisoners in his arguments. After showing why governments make bad decisions about private decisions he cannot control his outrage and explodes at politicians by writing: "Ah, you miserable creatures! You think you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That would be sufficient enough."
But do not misunderstand the alternative that Bastiat advances against progressive legislators running a compassionate government. Bastiat is equally critical of a democracy that hails the people’s wisdom in choosing leaders who will then have all the power to govern well. The democrat hails the people’s wisdom. In what does this great wisdom consist? Bastiat answers: "The people who, during the election, were so wise, so moral, so perfect, now have no tendencies whatever; of it they have any, they are tendencies that lead downward. . . . If people are as incapable, as immoral, and as ignorant as the politicians indicate, then why is the right of these same people to vote defended with such passionate insistence?"
But the $64,000 question is raised by this comment: "If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always so good?"
The big thing during this election season is agreed upon by almost all the pundits and planners. Will American’s trust Barack Obama? I do not think this is the right question at all. I actually like him and trust him a great deal. I trust him to do what a progressive will always do. He believes that the answers to our great economic problems are best solved by wise and good legislators who make smart choices for the rest of us. I don’t. It really is that simple.
Columnist George Will, who is clearly one of the brightest and best thinkers we have, says Obama’s ideals are too idealistic. I agree. He gives an illustration. Obama says he will "require that 10 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources by the end of [his] first term—more than double what we have now."
So what is wrong with this plan? We do need more renewable energy for sure. As Will noted what is wrong here is the word "require" and "renewable" in the same sentence. By 2012 he would require the economy’s huge energy sector to supply half as much energy from renewable sources as already being supplied by just one potentially renewable source. About 20 percent of our energy comes from nuclear power right now. The spent fuel rods from this source can be reprocessed into fresh fuel.
So what is the problem here? Obama, like almost all American progressives, does not like nuclear energy. (France, which is a very progressive and liberal society, depends on nuclear energy so this is why I call this an "American" issue.)
But regardless of the source what conservatives think about this is different than what liberals think. Conservatives, as Will rightly notes, say: "Seeing is believing. For Liberals believing is seeing." Obama seems to believe that if an outcome is desirable than one can require something to make it happen. So what are the details? Will answers, "Details to follow, sometime after noon, January 20, 2009."
Obama also says he will "get" 1 million 150-mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years. Will says, "What a tranquilizing verb ‘get’ is." A huge complex industry is going to produce and get a million consumers to buy these cars. I am not being cute when I say the first million might buy them, since they would likely be deeply dedicated Obama voters. But what about the second and third million?
And how will all of these desired outcomes come about? By the government providing financial incentives and billions of dollars of subsidies. There is no other way to "get" these results in our economy.
Thus we are back to Econ 101. Conservatives often sound like they ascribe morals and magic powers to the economy, thus the term "trickle down" economics. (I hate that term too.) Obama progressives believe, very sincerely and compassionately, that (Will) "a new technological marvel or social delight can be summoned into existence by a sufficient appropriation." These are the same folks who once believed that could change society and our cities by creating "model cities" through urban housing programs in the 1960s. I have lived long enough to see the total collapse of this plan and watched as the high rises were blown up in Chicago. This kind of government planning does not work. Worse yet it removes more and more of the very freedom which guarantees the opportunity that an economy can thrive.
The most common objection to what I say is simple. You must have government regulations or big businesses will run rampant over people. Think Enron. I completely agree. We need regulations and regulators, within reason. Unfettered capitalism is not the answer. We need free markets but we also need morality. The two are not enemies. To believe in the market system is not to believe government has no role at all. It is to believe that government often doesn’t know where it’s role ends.
My fear of Obama is not driven by Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter. I do not much care for either of them to be honest. And my fear is not driven by whether or not he is a secret Muslim. This is utter nonsense. My fear is simple. We have tried to progressively create governmental systems to solve problems like we now face in the past and these have almost always failed. Even social security, which has proven to be an exception, of sorts, though it is a bad investment on the dollar if there ever was one, has now been robbed by Democrats and Republicans in such a way that I honestly doubt I will see all I should get from the system in my lifetime. My kids, forget it.
My fear of an Obama presidency is not a rash, knee-jerk, hyped-up conservative reaction. I simply do not think his progressive economic plans will do a single thing to bring about what he promises and if they do then the long term results are even worse.
Will says that in 1996 Dole campaigned on the question, asked about Bill Clinton’s personal life, "Where’s the outrage?" Will suggests that in this year’s election, with the environmental messianism we are hearing, the question ought to be: "Where is the derisive laughter?"