A “speech from the throne.” That’s how Thomas Jefferson viewed public delivery of the annual speech. Starting with Jefferson’s presidency, and ending in 1913, a clerk read the president’s message to Congress.
How times have changed. Now the president reads the address, but others write it. Nor is the address to Congress. It’s an infomercial for the president and his party targeting the electorate. President Barack Obama said “we can’t wage a perpetual campaign.” Yet he just had to mention that he reads letters from children “each night.”
Mentioning “the children” has become typical of presidential addresses, as have other themes. As Ted DeHaven’s blog post titled “Bush’s Third Term” shows, Obama’s statements on jobs, energy, housing, and other topics sound so similar to Bush’s, you might think they have the same speechwriters.
Typical of modern State of the Union addresses, Obama’s made grand promises including special-interest tax breaks, tax “credits” for those who pay no income taxes, new government programs, and more government fixes to problems made worse by previous fixes.
To deliver the change he promised, the president should have shown Congress a rap video: “Fear the Boom and Bust” by EconStories.tv. With insight, wit, and rhyme, Friedrich Hayek explains how Keynesian fiscal policy fuels economic booms and busts. “It’s legit, it’s really good rapping,” Ke$ha told NPR.
Congressmen would see in themselves what Nobel Laureate Hayek calls the “fatal conceit.” Says Hayek: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”
The Daily Camera (Boulder) published this article on January 30, 2010.