This originally was published in the Boulder Daily Camera on Saturday, January 28, 2012.
For refutations of the President’s flawed claims and statist economic plans, see the Cato Institute‘s website, blog, and YouTube channel. Regarding Obama’s “Buffett tax” on millionaires, the Associated Press explains that the wealthiest Americans already “pay a lot more taxes than the middle class,” including secretaries
To understand Obama’s statist fervor, ask yourself: Are you a machine cog? Surely not. But like many politicians, Obama disagrees, at least tacitly. How? Linguist George Lakoff explains how metaphors are key to understanding political discourse. In his speech, the President expressed his desire to “lay out a blueprint for an economy.” At least twice he’s mentioned starting a health care “system” from “scratch.” This speaks volumes.
“The economy” refers to people producing and exchanging goods and services. In a freed economy, government respects people’s right to trade voluntarily. But Obama sees the economy as a machine to be manufactured, or a cake to be baked.
Obama has the same conceit that better economists have warned about for centuries. Describing the “man of system,” Adam Smith wrote: “He seems to imagine that he can arrange … members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges … pieces upon a chess-board.” “Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations,” wrote French economist Frederic Bastiat in 1853. Or, as 1974 Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek wrote, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”