The Heart of Our Disagreements – Revisited

Today, President Obama told students at a community college in Ohio:

their program could be cut “to give folks like me a tax cut that we don’t need and that the country can’t afford.”

“Understand this is not a redistribution argument,” Obama said. “This is not about taking from rich people to give to poor people. This is about us together making investments in our country so everybody has got a fair shot. And that will make all of us better off.” He then lamented the Buffett Rule’s failure in the Senate this week.

The president said that the election highlighted “the central challenge of our time,” and “the choice could not be clearer” among two competing visions.

Once again the President helps to demonstrate the gaping chasm between the mindsets of a progressive and a conservative:

  • A progressive believes humans are inherently weak: You can’t invest as an individual, the state must make the investments for you through taxation and expenditure, because they know better than you.
  • A conservative believes humans are inherently strong: You should invest as an individual, making your own choices, risking your own financial resources, and investing as you see fit.

What bothers me about the progressive worldview is this bizarre language about fairness. If I risk my own money investing, I may lose it. But with consistent investment and strategy, the wins will outweigh the losses. And the payoffs for risking your capital get bigger as risk increases. This is why the Buffet Rule is a bad idea: Rich people have the capital to risk on ventures that may not make it. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. What could be more fair? Their risk must not only be rewarded, their risk-taking needs to be encouraged.

But when Government is investing for me (and them), and the investments are in programs. In entitlements. In infrastructure. These are… shall we say intangible, it’s difficult to see it as investment. I never see my money, have no say where it goes,  and get no dividend or benefit when the “investment” pays off. Likewise I encounter no risk of loss if the “investment” goes under. That’s not really investment at all, it’s taxing and spending. I’m left to conclude that the President and I are not even speaking the same language. I understand his words, but they mean something different to him than they mean to me.

To progressives, “The Markets” are the domain of the fat cat 1%. Only the rich get into the club and only the rich enjoy the spoils. Only by punishing the rich will you get your fair shot. That is Class Warfare. To conservatives, that’s a load of leftist defeatist nonsense meant to intimidate average people from even trying to lift themselves to the next economic level. So many people don’t even bother. This much is certain: You will fail when you never even try.

The progressives want you poor. Weak. Afraid. Angry. Dependent. Conservatives want you to snap out of it, build your own future and secure your own happiness, whatever that means to you. Self-reliant. Productive. Enjoying life beholden to no one (but yourself and your maker).

The President is correct when he says “‘the choice could not be clearer’ among two competing visions.” I just don’t understand how anyone could buy the blatant distortion that Obama is selling.

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