Barack Obama Is Suddenly Concerned With Individual Rights

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:

And another:

4 Comments

  • Dale

    March 1, 2011

    Maybe you have him all wrong, Ray.
    The only public employees being “denigrated or vilified” are the elected officials trying to carry out campaign promises.
    Hence, isn’t BO in fact scolding the unions and democrats? Aren’t they the ones making comparisons to Nazis, extreme claims of “dictator”, on and on? That is denigration and vilification.
    Of course, the reference to infringing on rights, which you address well, makes clear BO is – as usual – ignoring the facts and pushing his agenda.
    My question to you is, can the government legislate a “right”? Aren’t rights enumerated in the “Bill of Rights”?

  • Ray

    March 1, 2011

    Government can only recognize a right, or not. But the right exists, regardless of whether or not it’s recognized. If rights are not recognized, an injustice is being perpetrated, and the perpetrator is wrong.

    Not all rights are enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and in fact the most important two, from which all other rights derive, are not explicitly enumerated, unfortunately. Those two are (first) the right to one’s own life — and only one’s own life — and (two) the corollary right to one’s own property, without which one cannot have the right to her own life, since property is an extension of person.

  • ScummyD

    March 2, 2011

    “it is undeniable that the Recovery Act helped every single state represented in this room manage your budgets”

    Yes, that is undeniable. But WTF kind of accomplishment is that to boast about??? It is also undeniable that the so-called “Recovery Act” helped the states prop up their unsustainable bloated bureaucracies which continue to operate in the red rather than trim the blubber, and it is also undeniable that that expense was added to the federal debt which now tops $14,000,000,000,000. And, therefore, it is also undeniable that responsible tax paying citizens in one state are being forced to subsidize the corruption, incompetence and profligate spending of politicians in other states in which they do not even live. Bravo, Mr. President, braaavo.

    Furthermore, the recovery act, despite its official legislative name, was sold as an economic stimulus, and managing to keep afloat unsustainable state budgets by borrowing money has nothing to do with economic stimulus but in fact contributes to the exact opposite.

  • Ray

    March 3, 2011

    Pretty hard to argue with that, ScummyD.

    It’s good to see you. It’s been too long.

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