Avid Editor's Insights

Obama, Closet Epicurian

Posted by ageofpericles on April 20, 2009

Crossposted From Age Of Pericles

Epicurian Disciple Eats Government Coffers

The philosophy of Epicurus is commonly summed up in the phrase “Eat, drink, and be happy, for tomorrow we die.” Though that passage is actually an amalgamation from Ecclesiastes (8:15) and Isaiah (22:13), it’s one way of interpreting Epicurian teachings. The Obama administration superficially clings to pretensions of fiscal responsibility, but in reality, pecuniary hedonists run amok in the halls of the White House. Freehandedness in the “New Age of Responsibility” is prevaricated away by fingerpointing- “…we’re inheriting very knotty problems…”, for example. All budgetary ills are tossed at the feet of the Bush administration. That excuse is quickly losing its bite, as evidenced by his latest economic speech, entitled “A New Foundation”, at Georgetown University. He slipped and slid into a particularly important admission.

The speech itself was fairly standard campaign fare, replete with logically fallacious appeals to unnamed economic authorities and one-sided assignation of responsibility. Particularly troubling was his riff on the Hippocratic Oath in reference to preemptive nationalization:

“Rather, it is because we believe that preemptive government takeovers are likely to end up costing taxpayers even more in the end, and because it is more likely to undermine than to create confidence. Governments should practice the same principle as doctors: first do no harm.”

His opposition to preemptive takeovers and nationalizations is admirable. His analogy is less so. It reflects a common misconception is leftist circles that the government is the economy’s doctor, while that’s only true in the most Mengeleian sense of the word. The government cannot “operate” on the economy and create wealth by subsidizing demand for unprofitable energy, nor does it have any special affinity for management (c.f. AMTRAK, FNMA, public education, and anything else run/subsidized by the federal government). The fact that the President uses the Hippocratic Oath to justify his actions (or lack thereof) reveals a congruence of opinion with the lunatics of the left, notably those of Arianna Huffington’s ilk. That’s not change I can believe in.

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