Small businesses employ over 57 million Americans. And yet, the government’s taxes and regulations overwhelmingly favor big businesses at the expense of small ones. Why? Find out in this short video.This video is part of a collaborative business and economics project with Job Creators Network and Information Station. To learn more, visit informationstation.org.
President Obama entered office in 2009 with the twin goals of expanding the role that government plays in the lives of individuals and businesses and proving to Americans that the government could be trusted to achieve big things. He was only half successful.
Philip Klein continues:
…Through sweeping legislation and strong-armed use of executive power, Obama broadened the reach of government more than any president since Lyndon Johnson. Congress passed a national healthcare program, ramped up regulation of the financial sector, and spent hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure and alternative energy projects.
“As the Obama epoch wanes, trust in government has reached historic lows. A Pew poll last fall found that just 19 percent of Americans said they could trust the government to do the right thing most of the time — a lower percentage than during Watergate, Vietnam or the Iraq War.”
Rules issued by his administration now determine what type of health insurance everyone must have and how many miles per gallon their cars will need to average. Other rules, such as a far-reaching plan to curb carbon emissions, await legal challenges before formal implementation.
So Obama undoubtedly moved the ball down the field for liberalism, but the gulf between his promises and the reality of what was implemented dramatically hardened public skepticism about government. Under Obama, the nation found out that “shovel ready” stimulus projects weren’t shovel ready, and discovered that they were not allowed to keep the doctors and health insurance that they liked.
As the Obama epoch wanes, trust in government has reached historic lows. A Pew poll last fall found that just 19 percent of Americans said they could trust the government to do the right thing most of the time — a lower percentage than during Watergate, Vietnam or the Iraq War.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Read the rest of this entry »
Mass surveillance may seem eerily futuristic, but it marks a return to a time when we were watched by an omniscient authority. We called it God.
Amanda Power writes: Humanity, according to the most influential origin story of Western culture, was created naked, unashamed, wholly willing to submit to the scrutiny of the god who made the world and its rules. Through an act of defiance urged on humans by an enemy of their happy state, “their eyes were opened”—they realized their own nakedness and sought to hide from view.
“Nothing is hidden from the eyes of the observing world.”
— Aleksandr Pushkin, 1837
The god was so angered by this that he threw them out of paradise to suffer and die. This was the original sin, the disobedience for which humans deserved to be punished through generations, centuries, and until the world ends. It was, quite simply, the pursuit of knowledge not sanctioned by the one who ruled them, and the hunger for privacy from surveillance. Or so the ruling elite, through its rabbis and priests, has told the population for thousands of years, through the brief and vivid story of the Fall.
Nor did variants on this god—depending on the teller: murderous or tender, wild with wrath or soberly judging, immediate or remote, but consistently male—cease watching after humanity’s expulsion from Eden. The resulting observations were the basis for a highly interventionist treatment of those he called his chosen people. When they obeyed him, he gave them, in his hot and possessive love, pleasant places to live, and he slaughtered their enemies. When they looked to other gods, he rained devastating punishments on them until they submitted once again.
He could see into their hearts and enter their dreams. Much of this remained the same in his Christian incarnation, but the dazzling promise that immortality could be regained through Christ’s death was yoked to the demand for a particular kind of self-scrutiny: the constant examination and exposure of one’s inner self. He knew us but also insisted we know ourselves and share our knowledge with him. Participation in our own surveillance was the price of entry into heaven.
For centuries the history of Western nations was traced from these beginnings, and so for centuries this god was part of how we legitimized our forms of government and those individuals who governed us. The flawed nature of societies characterized by inequality and injustice was simply another aspect of life in the unsatisfactory world created by mankind’s original sin. Around 1159 John of Salisbury, discussing governance in his Policraticus, observed that even tyrants of the worst kind were “ministers of God, who by His just judgment has willed them to be preeminent over both soul and body.
“The mass surveillance of the global population by corporations and government bureaucracies that has transcended all pretense of democratic accountability. The technologies that enable it are sophisticated, sleek, and silent. A sort of cyborg omniscience is obtained by those who control the information.”
By means of tyrants, the evil are punished and the good are corrected and trained.” All this, he believed, was a result of humans reaching a “rash and reckless hand toward the forbidden tree of knowledge,” and thereby plunging themselves into misery and death. The only remedy lay in submission to God; the only comfort in hard times was His watchful eye. So useful a tool did the idea of God prove to be—to ruler and ruled alike—that it has been carried, through the teeth of the so-called Enlightenment, into the social imagination of many republics and democracies. And it would not be surprising if these ideas, reiterated so consistently over the centuries, informed our attitudes toward the sort of surveillance we now experience as a novel aspect of modern life.
“If we have drifted into the dystopia of which George Orwell and Aldous Huxley warned, then surely, we are inclined to think, we have entered a terrifying new world.”
For it seems to be such a contemporary issue: the mass surveillance of the global population by corporations and government bureaucracies that has transcended all pretense of democratic accountability. The technologies that enable it are sophisticated, sleek, and silent. A sort of cyborg omniscience is obtained by those who control the information. If we have drifted into the dystopia of which George Orwell and Aldous Huxley warned, then surely, we are inclined to think, we have entered a terrifying new world.
But those who see in all this something eerily futuristic may have it backward. In our modern surveillance state, it’s possible we have in some perverse and unexpected fashion actually regained something of the comforts of being known by a higher authority—something that the modern West had largely lost, and for which we have perhaps unconsciously longed.
“But those who see in all this something eerily futuristic may have it backward. In our modern surveillance state, it’s possible we have in some perverse and unexpected fashion actually regained something of the comforts of being known by a higher authority—something that the modern West had largely lost, and for which we have perhaps unconsciously longed.”
At its most essential level, the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, interested, judging God was translated into our inherited forms of governance through the Roman Catholic interpretation of Christ’s words to Peter, in the Gospel According to Matthew. “Upon this rock I will build my church,” Christ says to his apostle, “and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The Church alleged that this authority had been transmitted through the succession of the bishops of Rome, and flowed from pope on down through the clerical hierarchy, so that every priest shared in the power to bind and loose on earth, in the knowledge that their decisions would be upheld by God.
“At its most essential level, the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, interested, judging God was translated into our inherited forms of governance through the Roman Catholic interpretation of Christ’s words to Peter, in the Gospel According to Matthew.”
Through the priests, God’s power to watch and judge had a human embodiment. They were not to shed blood, but there were circumstances in which they were to hand over obdurate individuals to secular authorities for execution. God’s dispersed authority was thus delegated even to laypeople whose individual jurisdiction extended no further than towns and villages. At the top of the secular hierarchy, monarchs were anointed by priests, thus symbolizing their religious legitimacy. As in John of Salisbury’s “ministers of God,” these monarchs’ worst abuses were sanctioned by the assertion of the elites that governments always operated with the backing of watchful divine will. Read the rest of this entry »
Fear of Terrorism? Nope. A New Survey Phows 69 percent of Americans Listed “Big Government” as the Biggest Threat the Future of the United States.
According to a Gallup poll released Tuesday, 88 percent of Republicans listed the issue followed by 67 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats.
The number is slightly lower than the 2013 results, the last time the question was posed, which stood at 72 percent, but the polling company said the numbers were significantly lower before 1990.
“The large increase in the percentage naming big government as the biggest threat in 2013 may have resulted from the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and Edward Snowden’s revelations about government monitoring of communications.” the poll said in its findings. Read the rest of this entry »
A Case Study of How Regulation Harms Poor People
License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The report documents the license requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations—such as barber, massage therapist and preschool teacher—across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It finds that occupational licensing is not only widespread, but also overly burdensome and frequently irrational.
On average, these licenses force aspiring workers to spend nine months in education or training, pass one exam and pay more than $200 in fees. One third of the licenses take more than a year to earn. At least one exam is required for 79 of the occupations.
Barriers like these make it harder for people to find jobs and build new businesses that create jobs, particularly minorities, those of lesser means and those with less education.
License to Work recommends reducing or removing needless licensing barriers. The report’s rankings of states and occupations by severity of licensure burdens make it easy to compare laws and identify those most in need of reform.
REFORMICONS REJOICE! The Pork Stops Here: Eric Cantor Loss Gives Republicans Chance to Become People’s PartyPosted: June 16, 2014
Brat’s stunning landslide win over Cantor in the June 10 primary gives Republicans the opportunity to change from being the party of Blackstone to the party of Baugh.
“Cantor’s closeness to Wall Street was supposed to be a strength. It proved a liability. This is true for the GOP as a whole.”
Brat beat Cantor, despite being outspent $5.5 million to $250,000, by running against corporate welfare. “I will fight to end crony capitalist programs that benefit the rich and powerful,” Brat said in his victory speech Tuesday night.
“Cantor’s defeat is the opportunity for the Republican Party to declare independence from Wall Street. Let the bankers flock to Hillary Clinton and Schumer.”
Brat explained on the trail that he’s pro-business, but “I’m against Big Business in bed with Big Government.”
The nine most terrifying in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
John Hayward writes: Fresh from his diplomatic triumph in handing the Middle East over to Russia, America’s buffoonish Secretary of State, John Kerry, took his sad-clown act to Indonesia, where he somehow contrived to link a volcanic eruption to man-made global warming. But that’s not even the dumbest gesture an Obama Administration official has made toward the official government religion of the United States recently.
No, the winning act of devotion to the Church of Global Warming is President Obama blaming drought in California on the Angry Sky Gods. It might just be the dumbest thing any American president has ever said. It’s so far opposed to actual science that Obama might as well have blamed elves and trolls for the drought, and announced a billion-dollar initiative to hunt them down. Not even the more respectable pseudo-scientists of the Church think the California drought has anything to do with global warming.
That escalated quickly.
Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. The prior high for big government was 65% in 1999 and 2000. Big government has always topped big business and big labor, including in the initial asking in 1965, but just 35% named it at that time.
It wasn’t so very long ago — as in, 2009, hem hem — when Americans’ primary concern for big government as a threat to the country’s future rested at around 55 percent, before hitting 64 percent near the end of 2011 and finally 72 percent today. Whatever do we suppose might have prompted such a thing, I wonder? Gigantic corporate bailouts, Scandalabra, NSA spying, ObamaCare… I don’t even know where to begin.
Obama the oblivious
Most people become aware of the hopeless inefficiency of sclerotic government by, oh, age 17 at the department of motor vehicles. Obama’s late discovery is especially remarkable considering that he built his entire political philosophy on the rock of Big Government, on the fervent belief in the state as the very engine of collective action and the ultimate source of national greatness. (Indeed, of individual success as well, as in “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”)
This blinding revelation of the ponderous incompetence of bureaucratic government came just a few weeks after Obama confessed that “what we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Another light bulb goes off, this one three years after passing a law designed to force millions of Americans to shop for new health plans via the maze of untried, untested, insecure, unreliable online “exchanges.”
WASHINGTON — George F. Will writes: The education of Barack Obama is a protracted process as he repeatedly alights upon the obvious with a sense of original discovery. In a recent MSNBC interview, he restocked his pantry of excuses for his disappointing results, announcing that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly”:
“We’ve got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses, large and small, in all kinds of ways, whether it’s helping to finance them, helping them to export. … So, we’ve proposed, let’s consolidate a bunch of that stuff. The challenge we’ve got is that that requires a law to pass. And, frankly, there are a lot of members of Congress who are chairmen of a particular committee. And they don’t want necessarily consolidations where they would lose jurisdiction over certain aspects of certain policies.”
The dawn is coming up like thunder as Obama notices the sociology of government. He shows no sign, however, of drawing appropriate lessons from it.
I watched this on Fox this morning, and knew it would be on the web within hours. It’s a classic George Will moment.
George Will gently mocked President Obama’s continuing education Sunday morning, needling him for discovering that some federal agencies are “outdated.”
“The education of this president is a protracted and often amusing process. . .as he continues to alight upon the obvious with a sense of profound and original discovery,” Will said.
“The president is saying ‘the trouble with big government is it’s so darn big.’ And like a lot of other big organisms—dinosaurs spring to mind—it has a simple nervous system, it’s sclerotic, it’s governed by inertia, and it’s hard to move,” he said. “This from a man who’s devoted his life to increasing the power of government as an instrument of the redistribution of income because government is wiser than markets at that.”
Jeffrey H. Anderson writes: President Obama has declared his renewed commitment to fighting income inequality. But we now have five years of evidence to draw upon, and it’s clear that Obama’s methods in this regard have failed miserably. In fact, they’ve worked about as well as Obamacare.
Obama’s approach to addressing income inequality, of course, is to funnel ever more money and power to Washington, while promoting a culture of cozy cronyism between Big Government and Big Business (especially Big “Green” Business). When having a well-positioned team of Washington lawyers and lobbyists becomes a necessary prerequisite to getting ahead, that’s hardly conducive to Main St. prosperity.
The utter failure of Obama’s trickle-down-government approach is perhaps best captured by two contrasting stats. When he took office, we were a full year into a major recession. Economically, there was almost nowhere to go but up. And, indeed, that’s what the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks the stock prices of 30 very large companies, has done: gone up. In January 2009, the Dow was at about 8,000. It’s now at about 16,000. It has essentially doubled on Obama’s watch.
Public trust in the authorities of OECD countries has eroded
This morning on ABC News ‘This Week’, panelist Gwen Ifill summarizes Obama’s Press Conference admission thusly: ‘We Know What’s Good for You. We Just Don’t Know How To Do It’. I laughed out loud. It was an unexpectedly insightful indictment.
Gwen nailed the reality of of modern Big-Government incompetence. The doomed vision of liberal-progressive do-gooder-expert government solutions couldn’t have been crystalized better.
The multiple face-kicks and tabloid-style analysis of the president “falling on his sword’ at last week’s press conference made the Nov. 16th edition of ‘This Week’ unusually rich viewing.
I don’t have the video and the transcript isn’t up yet, but if you get a chance to see the next airing of ‘This Week’: Presidency in Crisis – ABC News, it’s time well spent. Also featured is a memorable segment about the Gettysburg address, with Ken Burns, and an interview with Governor Scott Walker.
Your periodic reminder that the unbearable largeness of government is ongoing and eternal, despite a half-dozen recent showdowns over federal spending, comes from Sunday’s Washington Post. Excerpt:
After 2 1/2 years of budget battles, this is what the federal government looks like now:
It is on pace, this year, to spend $3.455 trillion.
That figure is down from 2010 — the year that worries about government spending helped bring on a tea party uprising, a Republican takeover in the House and then a series of ulcer-causing showdowns in Congress.
But it is not down by that much. Back then, the government spent a whopping $3.457 trillion.
Measured another way — not in dollars, but in people — the government has about 4.1 million employees today, military and civilian. That’s more than the populations of 24 states.
Back in 2010, it had 4.3 million employees. More than the populations of 24 states.
These numbers underline a point not made often enough: The stimulus was supposed to be a surge, a temporary increase to be pulled back after the crisis was averted. Instead, predictably, it just created a new baseline level of government spending.
Whole thing here. Link via the Twitter feed of the Post’s Dan Froomkin, who comments: “I’m still appalled by this poorly argued anti-government diatribe masquerading as a front-page WaPo story on Sunday.”
Serious about balancing the budget without raising taxes? Then read this Reason classic from Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy: “The 19 Percent Solution.”
Was it only yesterday that I suggested that a country ravaged for the past dozen-plus years by Big Government on steroids (plus whatever else A-Rod’s been shooting) was on the cusp of a glorious “Libertarian Era”?
As part of my case I pointed to recent fulminations across the political spectrum aimed at libertarians.
Long derided as inevitably male, pasty-faced, bitter-clingers to their Ayn Rands and their slide rules, libertarians for decades have been written off as a subset of all-powerful and oh-so-serious conservatives, as Republicans who smoke pot or have gay friends, and less. (Read “5 Myths About Libertarians,” my recent piece in the Washington Post, for some perspective.)
But now, in the words of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, libertarians are not just irrelevant but downright “dangerous” – and infecting both major parties. You know, because libertarians actually seem to give a rat’s ass about civil liberties, mindless military adventuring, and actually cutting government spending (which Christie has not done since taking office). Read the rest of this entry »
Mark July 3, 2013, as the day Big Government finally imploded.
July 3 was the quiet afternoon that a deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy announced in a blog post that the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate would be delayed one year. Something about the “complexity of the requirements.” The Fourth’s fireworks couldn’t hold a candle to the sound of the U.S. government finally hitting the wall.
Since at least 1789, America’s conservatives and liberals have argued about the proper role of government. Home library shelves across the land splinter and creak beneath the weight of books arguing the case for individual liberty or for government-led social justice. World Wrestling smackdowns are nothing compared with Hayek vs. Rawls.
Maybe we have been listening to the wrong experts. Philosophers and pundits aren’t going to tell us anything new about government. The one-year rollover of ObamaCare because of its “complexity” suggests it’s time to call in the physicists, the people who study black holes and death stars. That’s what the federal government looks like after expanding ever outward for the past 224 years.
Even if you are a liberal and support the goals of the Affordable Care Act, there has to be an emerging sense that maybe the law’s theorists missed a signal from life outside the castle walls. While they troweled brick after brick into a 2,000-page law, the rest of the world was reshaping itself into smaller, more nimble units whose defining metaphor is the 140-character Twitter message.
Laughably, Barack Obama tried this week to align himself with the new age in a speech calling yet again for “smarter” government. It requires whatever lies on the far side of chutzpah to say this after passing a 1930s-style law that is both incomprehensible and simply won’t work. ObamaCare is turning into pure gravity. Nothing moves.
On July 5, the administration announced into the holiday void that because of “operational barriers” to IRS oversight, individuals would be allowed to self-report their income to qualify for the law’s subsidies.
If the ObamaCare meltdown were a one-off, the system could dismiss it as a legislative misfire and move on, as always. But ObamaCare’s problems are not unique. Important parts of the federal government are breaking down almost simultaneously.
One of the things Big Government apparently wanted to see last year was David Petraeus’ emails.
William Binney, whistleblower and former NSA crypto-mathematician who served in the agency for decades, said the David Petraeus sex scandal was most likely exposed using illegal surveillance of his email.
Perhaps this helps explain why the CIA Director, who surely knew the truth about Benghazi from the get-go, allowed all those changes to the CIA talking points (scrubbing references to Islamic terrorism, scrubbing prior attacks), then briefed the press off the record that “we really think the video had something to do with it.”
Last November, after Petraeus announced his resignation over the sex scandal, Charles Krauthammer asked the following questions on Special Report:
How do you explain the testimony that Petraeus gave when it contradicted what the station CIA Chief, the station chief in Libya had told them?
How do you explain the fact that Petraeus’ testimony also contradicted Panetta’s briefing, and what everybody at the time was saying?
Catherine Herridge of Fox News had reported the FBI and the National Counterterroism Center had provided Capitol Hill briefings two days after the Libya attack.
Each claimed their evidence supported an attack either related to or by Al Qaeda terrorists. Yet the next day, the now disgraced general gave an astonishingly different intelligence account of what happened. Petraeus portrayed the attack as fitting the profile of a flash mob by chance joined by militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades.
via Big Government
by GREG GUTFELD
You remember near the end of the Monty Python flick, The Meaning of Life– that scene featuring Mr. Creasote? He’s the morbidly obese freak who gorges on food, until finally, after eating a mint offered by the waiter, completely explodes, sending his guts in all directions.
I was a senior in high school when I saw it, and I remember it clearly. I skipped dinner that night.
And I remember the scene now, as I’ve watched this IRS scandal unfold. I keep thinking about that mint, and that this scandal is that mint.
With this exposed plan of intimidation, big government has finally, irrevocably exploded all over us–drenching us in its own corrupt excesses. It’s gotten so fat, so immensely greedy, so impossibly grotesque, that the only thing that can end it is itself. Big government exists only through expansion. The bigger it gets, the harder it is to kill. But it got too cocky; it grew too fast, and now all of its insides, are outside–for all of us to see.
Which is why this is no time to lend it a helping hand. Let big government die from its own desires. The IRS, to its own horror, has just helped create a new movement. Think about it: If you were to go to a hardware store right now, buy a sign and paint “audit this,” and place it on your lawn, what could they do? Nothing. Once you’ve got a thug’s number, the thug knows better than to target you.
Nevermind the appeasers–the IRS scandal IS a big deal. It’s such a big deal, it could ruin the agency forever, and take a few others down with it. And sure, it’s a lot of fun on the right to be clamoring for scalps–like, who should be fired and how many. But pink slips are small potatoes.
The end game is way, way bigger than that stuff. What we are witnessing is a collapse of trust in big government, which ultimately–to our benefit as small-government types–leads to a permanent undermining of the whole system.
Until now, this administration produced loads of soaring rhetoric that made many forgive its lack of substance. But now, to everyone who pays taxes, the wolf is suddenly at the doorstep, and it’s looking for food. This new era, for some, sounded great in the abstract–but with the IRS scandal, we’re starting to see our first home front casualties. The IRS just gave small-government America–which is most of America–a wake-up call like no other.
The IRS scandal, if perceived correctly, spells the end of big government.
Because a group of average Americans mobilized as something delightfully known as the Tea Party, and made their voices heard for the first time, they were targeted. It’s not about the IRS solely, but an administration that used the IRS as its enforcement arm against speech it found disagreeable.
They used the government to silence opposition. The IRS was their national muscle, used locally, to scare the crap out of you. They’re so powerful, they don’t even need to break your kneecaps. They just break your soul.
And it used to work–but not so much anymore. I’m thinking (which I do now and again) that if everyone now does what those brave folks did when Obamacare first reared its ugly head, what exactly can the government do now?
If the IRS is forever tainted as an agenda-driven, ideologically poisoned outfit, then it’s powerless to continue its normal routines. It’s like a shoplifter in the neighborhood. With his photo now plastered in every shop window, everyone knows his game, so he’s gotta go somewhere else.
The only recourse: going after the left. Or, just going away.
When I talked about grounding government, this is how it’s done. The IRS, through its actions, has grounded itself–disqualifying the joint from effectively coercing you to do anything without that being perceived as targeting. When President Obama said cynicism is a threat to democracy, he was looking through the kaleidoscope from the wrong end. It’s corruption that threatens big government. When, during that speech on drones, he defended his use of targeted lethal attacks on enemies, he could have just as easily been describing the IRS attacks on the right. This strategy is part of who they are. If you’re a big government lover, you are programmed to hate us and any person who threatens that cushy livelihood.
Which is why you should become that person. Doing so creates a force field against attack. When Elijah Cummings fretted that the IRS scandal could endanger future audits against citizens, it was a selfish, bizarre reaction to government overreach (siding with the attacker, not the victim)–but he was also right.
The IRS just dug big government’s grave. America now has the opportunity to look at the greedy monster that is expansive, progressive government and say, “We are done with you. Go away.”
via Big Government.
Jeffrey H. Anderson
January 23, 2013 8:40 AM
In his second inaugural address, President Obama made every effort to tie his political philosophy to the ideals and principles of the American Founding, even as he made clear how little he understands those ideals and principles. The gist of Obama’s speech was that only government can grant freedom. Or as he put it, “[W]e have always understood…that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
To be clear, Obama doesn’t mean this in the sense of a limited government’s importance in securing certain unalienable rights. Rather, as his speech made clear, he means it in the sense of an activist government’s importance in consolidating power effectively, redistributing wealth liberally, taxing and spending prodigiously, and heavily regulating the possession of that portion of Americans’ property that it allows to remain in their hands.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.” In his second inaugural, Obama said very nearly the opposite.
Instead of emphasizing the importance and the nobility of individual Americans’ work, or of Americans coming together to form voluntary civil associations in their communities, Obama emphasized the need for collective action shepherded by the federal government. He said, “No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.” Rather than emphasizing the possibilities of being a free man or woman in a free land, he emphasized the individual American’s powerlessness in the absence of the centralized state.
Obama added, “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few” — thereby suggesting that, in the absence of consolidated power in Washington, prosperity is available not to the enterprising, the industrious, or the frugal, but merely to the lucky, and that the same is true for freedom itself.
Tocqueville described an overreaching centralized government as being something that “hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.” In marked contrast, Obama says that Big Government’s biggest programs “free us to take the risks that make this country great.” This naïve assertion makes one wonder what freed Americans to take such risks in the 150 years between the Founding and the New Deal.