by R. Lee Wrights
A year ago, after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union message I wrote an op-ed entitled “The State of the Union is a State of War.” Lamentably, a year later, after his 2012 address I am compelled to write that the State of the Union is still a state of war. And there’s no sign that the wars will come to an end anytime soon, particularly so long as Democrats, Republicans, and their corporate and special interest supporters keep using our tax dollars to fund these wars so that they can benefit and profit.
President Obama used the word “fair” and “reward” several times in his speech. His vision of “fair” is to “fight obstruction with action,” by taking from those who produce and giving that money as a “reward” to those who produce nothing. His idea of “fair” is to “reward companies that keep jobs in America” by taxing companies that try to stay in business by outsourcing jobs overseas. His view of “fair” means “reward” schools that meet federally-imposed education standards by threatening to withhold money from schools that fail to do so. His concept of “fair” means forcing states to keep young people in school until they graduate or turn eighteen.
While piously declaring that there would be “no bailouts, no handouts, and no cop-outs,” the president’s address was full of promises and pledges, threats and offers of reward that are precisely some sort of bailout, handout or cop-out. His standard line was to demand Congress “send me a bill,” but threatened, “with or without this Congress I will keep taking action…” For some reason that old saying, “the blind leading the blind” comes immediately to mind when I hear our president say things like that.
President Obama repeated the grandiose nonsense that has tainted American foreign policy since World War II, the hubristic absurdity that the United States is the one indispensable nation in world affairs. Even while acknowledging that Washington is broken and that Americans have lost faith and trust in government, all President Obama could offer was more interference and government mandates as solutions to the problems government itself has created. His latest gem: “smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior.” Government is not just broken. It is running out of control, destroying our lives, our liberty, our security and our livelihood.
In short, the 2012 State of the Union address was just another campaign speech, at its core the same speech President Obama has been giving since he took office. There were two very revealing moments in this iteration, however. The first came when he quoted Abraham Lincoln, who said, “government should only do for people what they can’t do for themselves, and no more.” Yet his entire speech was a typical laundry list of what government must do for people.
The other moment once again clearly illustrated President Obama’s statist view of government. He said that we must change the tax code so that “people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay their fair share in taxes.” Was the president admitting that he does not pay his fair share? If so, what prevents him from giving some of his wealth to charity - or to the federal government?
In his distorted understanding of economics, when anyone, but especially the rich get a tax break or pay less in taxes, someone else has to pay the difference or the supposed shortfall adds to the debt. His assumption, typical of most Democrats and Republicans, is the government is “owed” a portion of the fruits of our labor. It never occurs to him that perhaps the government has no business taking money from people who earn it in the first place. He never thinks that the solution is to stop government spending and stop robbing Peter to pay Paul.
He and other members of the ruling elite can only see the economy as a pie, with only so much to go around. If one person gets “more,” someone has to do with “less.” It never occurs to them that the free market is like a bakery that can produce many pies, and bigger pies, and different kinds of pies so that everyone has their fill.
And as he did a year ago, President Obama made passing reference to the trials and sacrifices his interventionist foreign policy demands of the men and women in our Armed Forces. He shamelessly cites their example of courage, selflessness and teamwork as a prop to support his programs of more spending, higher taxes, and more war. Our president doesn’t seem to realize that the way to reward such sacrifice by our men and women in uniform is to keep them out of harm’s way unless absolutely necessary. As Commander-in-Chief I would take care that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are never sent on interventionist adventures in the first place.
Thomas Jefferson, our third president, thought that the sight of the President of the United States appearing before Congress to make a speech smacked of monarchy, reminiscent of the British king’s Speech from the Throne. Rejecting this monarchical display, he simply sent a written report to Congress to fulfill the Constitutional requirement. Every president until Woodrow Wilson followed his example. If I have the honor of being elected, I will return to Jefferson’s idea and cease this grandiose and wasteful display of meaningless pomp and circumstance.
R. Lee Wrights is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is currently seeking the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.