Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And What About The Individual?

David Boaz of the Cato Institute has a nice little piece on Our Collectivist Candidates.

Sen. Obama told the students [during his address at Wesleyan University's graduation ceremony] that "our individual salvation depends on collective salvation." He disparaged students who want to "take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy."

The people Mr. Obama is sneering at are the ones who built America – the traders and entrepreneurs and manufacturers who gave us railroads and airplanes, housing and appliances, steam engines, electricity, telephones, computers and Starbucks. Ignored here is the work most Americans do, the work that gives us food, clothing, shelter and increasing comfort. It's an attitude you would expect from a Democrat.

Or this year's Republican nominee. John McCain also denounces "self-indulgence" and insists that Americans serve "a national purpose that is greater than our individual interests." During a Republican debate at the Reagan Library on May 3, 2007, Sen. McCain derided Mitt Romney's leadership ability, saying, "I led . . . out of patriotism, not for profit." Challenged on his statement, Mr. McCain elaborated that Mr. Romney "managed companies, and he bought, and he sold, and sometimes people lost their jobs. That's the nature of that business." He could have been channeling Barack Obama.


The real issue is that Messrs. Obama and McCain are telling us Americans that our normal lives are not good enough, that pursuing our own happiness is "self-indulgence," that building a business is "chasing after our money culture," that working to provide a better life for our families is a "narrow concern."

They're wrong. Every human life counts. Your life counts. You have a right to live it as you choose, to follow your bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction in accomplishment. And if you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of others.


Anonymous b.rose said...

Look, I agree with most of your points here. Capitalism built America. The richest among us are the ones who are creating wealth not just for themselves but for others as well. If you're rich you either stole the money from somewhere, or you did something that created wealth and value for others.

However Obama and McCain are talking from different perspectives. We know Obama's perspective. We know his philosophy and we know his story.

But you have to realize that McCain is a military man, from a military family. In McCain's eyes capitalism alone didn't build America. The blood of American's shed on the beaches of Normandy and the blood of his friends in Vietnam. We have a 100% voluntary army serving in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Many of whom aren't serving for their own self-interest. McCain doesn't want people to forget that our country is where it is today in large part thanks to people who felt a sense of patriotic duty to serve and die for the country.

And it is true. While self-interest fuels capitalism, which in turn provides wealth... where would we be with out people like John McCain who put self-interest aside for the good of our nation? Self-interest will drive people to become nurses and such (jobs that the Obama's think are noble) because the markets for them will take care of it. Something else besides self-interest is at play when we're talking about people enlisting. Something that has been vital to our country's survival and will continue to be.

This is the same to you as Michelle and Barack preaching to people to quit their corporate jobs for jobs in health care or whatever else they somehow deam worthy? "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. . . . That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

McCain isn't perfect, but you've got some libertarian philosophical blinders on if you think McCain espousing patriotism is the same as what the Obama's are preaching.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous b.rose said...

Scott McClellan proved today what is true for most politicians; their need for popularity and attention outweigh the moral obligations of loyalty, honor and professionalism.

1:56 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

It's not a question of McCain's patriotism, but of his concern and understanding for individual rights and liberties. Service to one's country means nothing if it's not freely chosen and it's difficult for many libertarians (and conservatives for that matter) to be comfortable with a candidate who's focus on national services seems to obscure any notion of individual choice. Based on what he's said (and his political record for that matter), McCain looks down on those who have chosen to engage in business and commerce as opposed to serving the nation.

I don't mean to make some sort of Randian argument critical of any form of self sacrifice- I'd rather just point out that this country is where it is today because of a mix of both the "self-serving capitalists" and the "humble public servants." And you've had that mix precisely because of the freedoms we've historically had.

It's not the same as what Obama is preaching, but looking at McCain in the entirety, particularly on the domestic front, he certainly seems to me to be a lot closer to Obama than he does to Ronald Regan. Reagan by the way, when he was alive, referred to libertarianism as the heart and soul of conservatism. I have trouble imagining anything similar coming out of McCain's mouth.

3:52 PM  

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