Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Framework

Watching the debate last night, there were many key moments that I thought  shone a very bright light on the differences in philosophies of Governor Romney and President Obama.  And some of them were particularly telling.  This is one of them (read a transcript of the debate here):

OBAMA: The first role of the federal government is to keep the American people safe. That's its most basic function. And as commander-in-chief, that is something that I've worked on and thought about every single day that I've been in the Oval Office. 
But I also believe that government has the capacity, the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed. 
Look, the genius of America is the free enterprise system and freedom and the fact that people can go out there and start a business, work on an idea, make their own decisions.

What struck me about this particular quote was the president's belief that it's the government's job to "build ladders of opportunity and create frameworks" for the American people.

I have a huge problem with that.

When the government creates the frameworks, then opportunity takes the shape that the government thinks it should and the people, largely, are beholden to that.

However, when left unencumbered by government, those frameworks are created by the American people anyway - if there is a need for them - and it takes the shape of things in which people are interested and will spend their money collectively. Those frameworks are stronger and more durable in the long run.

Take a look at "green energy," for example.  When the government builds frameworks, it does so by regulation and coercion by tax code.  You get products such as $10 light bulbs that are far more toxic and dangerous than incandescent bulbs and the Chevy Volt that loses more than $40,000 per vehicle sold.  You get products that no one really wants and that are inferior to products that are already on the market, but that the government has chosen to push.

But when the private sector - the public - builds the frameworks, you get companies founded specifically to compete competitively to create energy cleanly. You get the Prius and the Insight from companies competing against each other to make a better, more efficient product so they can make money doing it.

So it boils down to this:

Do you trust the government to run your life and decide what products you should buy and what job need to be created, or do you trust yourself and the American public to decide what's best for ourselves?

President Obama said many times last night that we need to "work together" to create more jobs and to get things done.  But by that, he clearly means "work together and do what the government thinks is best."

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