No more coyness, no measuring of words for the President. In fact, the man gets bolder every day, espousing his preference for European-style economics. Couple this boldness with press secretary Jay Carney’s remark that some Americans might (rightfully, he implies) choose not to work, and you have socialism, pure and simple.
The president continues to extol the virtues of government and discounts the idea of citizens pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. An incurable, true believer in central planning, Obama argues that the reason “you didn’t build that” is that “it takes a village.” A classical collectivist, he subordinates the villager to the village. (Instead of yelling to the high heavens, our Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives merely yawns.)
I have a wealthy friend who did build something, and although he is a lover of the village and the villagers, his financial accomplishments are rooted in his own sacrifice, hard work and risk-taking. He has a deep desire to help the villagers.
Several years ago this friend asked if I would serve on his family’s charitable giving committee. I agreed to do so, and for the next three years I researched and interviewed individuals and organizations that had approached him for money. I submitted written reports to the family for their consideration at their quarterly meetings. Also, at my friend’s request, I gave him names of organizations which I knew of but which he did not. A generous and wise giver, he was tireless in seeking out good people and organizations that needed and deserved help.
This experience placed me in circles that were new to me — circles of the wealthy. My friend not only had his own charitable committee, but also collaborated with other charitable organizations and wealthy families. On occasions, I was in the company of my friend’s friends.
I did not need this experience to shape or determine my views of “the wealthy.” My view of wealthy people had long been set. The very few wealthy families I knew of growing up were selfless, generous people. My tenant farmer father, who knew every lawyer, doctor, banker and wealthy business owner in town, was also the recipient of their respect and generosity. What was there not to like about these very well-off, successful people who, by the way, were the providers of jobs for the villagers?
But President Obama wants to shackle my friend. He doesn’t trust him and his counterparts across the country. Believing one man’s gain is another man’s loss, he thinks my friend engaged in “unrestrained capitalism” to acquire what he has. Perhaps he has never known someone like my friend or like Chick-fil-A’s Truett Cathy who genuinely cares for other people. Perhaps he thinks no poor people are stingy.
The president holds to the history textbook myths of the “robber barons.” Given his lifelong encapsulation in academia, it is easy to see why he swallows the myths. His province has never been that of capitalism, but that of capitalism’s critics. To him, the Vanderbilts, the Carnegies and the Rockefellers must be evil incarnate. (I knew a poor tenant farmer down the road who was evil incarnate.)
If America’s biggest capitalists were evil, they sure helped the villagers with employment and with the libraries and the railroads they built. And of course evil oil has changed the life of many a villager, for the better, as well.
Milton Friedman, late prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago and economic advisor to President Reagan, argued that while the misnamed robber barons were creating their wealth, federal spending was small and Americans were freer. Friedman disdained, to his dying breath, the over-regulation of government that hinders and restricts the freedom of creative people to produce wealth.
Conservatives are not given to public demonstration, protest, or outcry. That’s because they are generally as conservative in temperament as they are in philosophy. Though more demonstrative than they have been in the past, they will have to engage in some serious vocal activism if the Obama socialist train is to be halted.
There are plenty of good pro-capitalism groups to support. If conservatives do not support them, then my wealthy friend, his wealthy friends, all the villagers they employ and the others they secretly help are all hindered. And that’s a shame.
Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.