In an interview with WFTV, President Obama suddenly discovered what it is that has troubled Americans about Marxism for well over a century. The crucial exchange occurred when Obama was asked about gas prices. “Well, as long as gas prices are going up, people are going to feel like I’m not doing enough, and I understand that,” Obama observed. “Ultimately, though, there’s no silver bullet.”
Then came the critical question. “Your opponents say they can get gas to the $2.50 range,” said the interviewer. “What do you think Americans should be OK with?” Obama, avoiding the question, shrugged, “First of all, nobody believes that. They know that’s just politics. Anybody who says we can get gas down to two bucks a gallon just isn’t telling the truth.”
But President Obama didn’t answer the question.
The real question is why he couldn’t. After all, this is a president who has stated over and over that prices and wages should be set on the basis of fairness. He tried to claw back Wall Street bonuses because investment bankers were making more than they “deserved” to make; he says the rich should pay their “fair share.”
The problem, of course, is that nobody knows what is fair—for wages, bonuses, or gas prices. Is it really fair for some people to pay a far lower percentage of their income to the federal government than others? Is it fair that some people buy ground chuck and others New York strip?
That he struggled to say how much Americans should have to pay for gas should not have surprised the president. Economists have struggled for centuries to determine what people deserve to pay for precious commodities. . Invariably, they insist on more control of the economy, stating that the blind hand of the market simply cannot produce a fair and just system. That’s why Thomas Edison wrote, “What is wanted is some person familiar with the selling and buying, the technical as well as the financial end of all industries, to devise some generic scheme that business can work on.”
Top-down technocrats fail to understand how an undirected system can work so well. That’s because they don’t understand freedom. How can hundreds of millions of people, all pursuing their self-interest, create more wealth than hundreds of millions of people all directed toward a single end? How can fairness by achieved by seeming randomness rather than by hierarchical control of the right-minded?
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