Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

24 January 2010

Edward Hudgins: Paternalists Want Power and Bank on Envy

In an article called Banking on Envy, Edward Hudgins, of the Atlas Society, says that the defeat of ObamaCare has caused Obama to invoke envy to attack the banks.  He says envy is the chief weapon, and frequent motivation, of the paternalist.  Obama claimed that the banks were responsible for the current recession and that the government had had to bail them out because the banks had made risky loans in pursuit of profit and bonuses.  He failed to note that the government forced the banks to take the money and they rapidly paid it back with interest.  And, of course, he failed to note that the banks had been pushed hard by the government over a couple of decades to make more and more risky loans to home buyers so that home ownership would increase, especially among the poor and lower middle class.

Hudgins says,
With chutzpah pouring out of his every pore, Obama announced support for restrictions on what he defines as risky bank activities “that are central to the legislation that has passed the House under the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank, and that we’re working to pass in the Senate under the leadership of Chairman Chris Dodd.”  Here he named the two members of Congress who most of all laid the groundwork for the current economic crisis. Both worked for years to force banks to make risky home loans to individuals who couldn’t afford them and both took campaign funds from the government-chartered Fannie Mae, which was making money packaging and marketing those bad loans. They sold the crack, and now they want to be deputized as drug-busting police.
Obama argued that the banks get cheap money from the Federal Reserve and use this "privilege" to trade for profit.  His implication is that profit is evil.  Now it is true that the banks get cheap money and that they try to use it to make a profit, but the government set this system up itself.  Hudgins says that the Obama paternalist's tactics are revealed by his effort to gain more effective control of the already highly regulated banking industry.  He goes on a great rampage next against paternalists and their lust for power.
His proposed restrictions on banks will further constrain capital investment in the American economy and reduce so-called “risky” lending. These constraints will certainly slow economic growth. They will especially make it tough for entrepreneurs to create whole new industries that are by their nature risky ventures, for which they bear the costs of the risk, and by which they hope to make huge, well-deserved profits. But it really isn’t economic growth and prosperity that paternalists seek.

Obama is shameless to suggest that his government, which is overseeing the most irresponsible and wasteful spending spree with taxpayer money in American history, should be imposing discipline on private bank responsibility. But it’s not responsible, efficient, and honest government that paternalists seek.

Paternalists want power. They are obsessed by the need to control every aspect of our lives. That’s why Leftists reacted as they did to the Supreme Court’s ruling—released on the same day as Obama’s anti-bank press conference—that corporations have free speech rights to make their thoughts about candidates known during elections. Obama is vowing to find ways to stamp out these First Amendment freedoms. The freedom of others to criticize is a grave danger to control-freak paternalists.

One of the principal tactics that paternalists use to induce individuals to surrender their freedom is to stoke their envy, resentment, and hate against some scapegoat and to promise that they, the paternalists, are the only ones who can punish the villains. “Look, that one is richer than you! Let’s get ‘em!”

Envy, of course, is an essentially nihilistic sentiment that revels in tearing down. It is a form of social relativism that teaches that one’s worth or status is always in comparison to others. And the easiest way to raise one’s own pseudo-sense of worth and status is to tear down others, to judge one’s self as better off only if others are worse off. Envy is a path to individual and social destruction.
 It is so good to have company that shares my sense of outrage at the elitist paternalists using low envy to satisfy their lust for power while not caring what harm is done to free markets and the rights of the individual.

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