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Obama’s Acceptance Speech Vs. Milton Friedman
Posted by: MichaelW on Thursday, August 28, 2008

Overall, Barack Obama delivered an excellent speech tonight. If there is one thing that he does well, it is this. Of course, it was mostly lofty rhetoric and anti-McCain Bush barbs, but this is literally preaching to the choir so that was to be expected.

The one portion of Obama's oration that really caught my attention was the following:
What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep.
At this point of the speech, I couldn't help but think of JFK's famous line, "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." I think Obama obviously intended to harken back to JFK's acceptance speech in 1960 (which, incidentally, can be compared here), and to the legacy of government as patron of the people, for which it is owed a special allegiance.

I was also reminded of the Introduction to Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom rebutting JFK's version of "the promise of America":
Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. The paternalistic "what your country can do for you" implies that government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man's belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, "what you can do for your country" implies that government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or votary. To the free man, the country is a collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served. He recognizes no national purpose except as it is the consensus of the purposes for which the citizens severally strive.

The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom? And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect? Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom.
Those words were published in 1962, and yet, somehow, they presciently challenge 2008's candidate of change. In taking on JFK's vision of an American united by a singularity of purpose, Friedman also dismantles Obama's dream of each citizen burdened with an obligation to be responsible for all other citizens. By juxtaposing JFK's message of subservience to government with the ideal of freedom, Friedman destroys Obama's notion that government is the provider of opportunities and the benevolent master of our destinies. In other words, Obama's rhetoric is so shopworn and predictable, so mired in the politics and policies of the past, as to be rebuttable by a book from the year he was born.

This is "The Change We Need"?
 
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this is literally preaching to the choir
there was a choir there? a literal one?

(good post btw)
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
Hilarious line of the entire week, from Al Gore, the Chicken Little of the World:

"Obama = Lincoln."

Sorry, Mr. Gore, but you, Obama, Biden, the Clintons, and every Democrat who ever lived don’t equal Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was our greatest President. To have you try to equate an empty suit like Barack Obama is a slur and you should be slapped in the head with a barbell for it.

Then again, Al Gore never saw a story or a tall tale he could belt out with twisting the facts or just outright lying. So I guess in his world of utter imbecility, Obama must equal Lincoln.

But not on Planet Earth. Not in reality. Which is why Democrats should lose this election and continue to lose: because nothing they say is based in reality.
 
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
"It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road."

Sure, just as soon as the American people make sure to look out for my business and my profits.

Seriously, does he think that a toy company that stopped manufacturing in Chnia and "created American jobs" would last 5 minutes when the American consumer notices the competing Made in China product is 30% cheaper?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
The first result of stopping ’off-shoring’ or whatever you want to call it, will be for those companies to fail against foreign competition that will be able to ’off-shore’ at will or are from one of the destination counties for ’off-shoring’ already.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Emphasis mine.
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us.[I highly doubt he means government taxes or interference in our daily lives here] It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.
This is the antithesis of everything that made America different than any other nation. Self-Reliance.

So Obama bears the promise of Euro-social!sm. Wonderful.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Mencken described what’s happening decades ago: politicans seeking votes by "promising to turn A loose in B’s cornfield" and in doing so turning the democratic process into "an auction of stolen goods held before the fact."
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
This is "The Change We Need"?
No, but I begin to worry that it is "The Change We’re Going To Get", whether we "Want It Or Not".

BTW, it is looking strongly like it may be Palin for VP, as she just flew into Ohio from Alaska...

God, I will actually donate money to McCain if Palin is his choice...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Seriously, does he think that a toy company that stopped manufacturing in Chnia and "created American jobs" would last 5 minutes when the American consumer notices the competing Made in China product is 30% cheaper?
It’s funny i remember a summer job i had in high-school at radio shack. Not too long ago but that doesn’t matter as the person who came is was elderly. He told me, he wanted a phone not built in China. I started searching and basically didn’t find one lol. Its funny how the left would likely decry the reasoning behind him a number of years ago, yet today i could easily image some young hippie smelling of pot coming into a store and getting flustered when everything was made in China lol

Yeah lets start a world peace movement, but ill be damned if your gonna trade with them!
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
James,

Did Gore really say that? What an easy lob over the plate for McCain:

"Mr. Gore, I knew Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama, sir, is no Abraham Lincoln."

Not only does it get in some self-deprecating humor, but it turns one of the best one-liners ever uttered by a Democrat totally back onto them.

 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
Dad commented to me that McCain needs his "Well there you go again" moment during the debates...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
The moment that got my attention was (paraphrasing):
John McCain says he will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even follow him to his cave in Afghanistan.
Of course in reality, McCain flew missions in Vietnam, faced real enemies, and spent 5 years as a POW. Obama... not so much. Knowing McCain’s military service background and that he (Obama) has absolutely none, why would he attack McCain’s supposed unwillingness to confront an enemy?

Paraphrasing the rest of the speech:

Hey bottom 50%, you already pay less than 3% of the income tax. How about free health care, free education, and free child support? You can just vote yourself whatever you would like with no repurcussions.... [while at the same time] American companies are moving overseas for no other reason than greed and should be punished.
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
I’ve seen that pro-Obama video where they bring back McCain’s quote about economics, and his ignorance thereof, to haunt him. And it’s true McCain’s grasp of economics is weak; if it were stronger, he wouldn’t be a RINO. But liberal Democrats who support Obama and who attack McCain for being weak on economics are like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder making fun of Sammy Davis Jr. for his bad eye.
 
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