Barack Obama — who, in 2008, at the Philadelphia primary, shocked and sickened so many of us when he said (and I quote) “Just because you have an individual right does not mean that state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right” — has suddenly, it seems, developed an inexplicable regard for individual rights, stating publicly this morning:
“I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon.”
Presumably, he’s forgetting his aforementioned conviction that “state and local governments [may legitimately] constrain the exercise of rights” — an ignorant and extraordinarily dangerous conviction which statists of every stripe have unsuccessfully tried to defend since the dawn of humankind, with spectacularly devastating results, and yet for once I agree with him: it is not ever good when individual rights are infringed upon. The real question, of course, which he could never answer, is this:
Why is it then okay that my rights are infringed upon — when I am forced, in other words, under threat of fine or imprisonment, to subsidize these public employees whom you champion?
Why must I be forced by government to live for others?
Says who? And why?
No good answer has ever been given to that question because no good answer for it exists.
On a related note, Barack Obama disclosed in that same speech this morning his economic illiteracy once again, telling state governors:
“As the Recovery Act funds that saw through many states over the last two years are phasing out and it is undeniable that the Recovery Act helped every single state represented in this room manage your budgets, whether you admit it or not.”
The refutation of this is sometimes referred to as the Broken Window Fallacy, a term that comes to us from a parable coined by the great French economist Frederic Bastiat (1801 – 1850), which parable demonstrates that wealth cannot come from destruction, that money taken by force — i.e. TARP and the so-called stimulus package — necessarily siphons money which would otherwise have been spent voluntarily on other things, thereby wreaking havoc on economies in an unseen way (indeed, Bastiat himself called this principle “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen”).
Here’s a two-minute explanation of the Broken Window Fallacy, by an economist and philosopher whom I admire named Dr. Tom Palmer: