The 2012 Presidential election is quickly approaching us, as evident by the non-stop political ads running on the TV, radio, internet and newspaper. Lots of issues are hotly debated; Mitt Romney wants lower taxes across the board with fewer deduction for the wealthy, while the President wants to raise the top marginal rate. The President wants to continue the current Medicare/Medicaid plans, why Mitt Romney wants to reform them. The candidates have vastly different views on social issues as well. But after looking at all of the issues, it all comes down to one thing…what is your view of what America should be?
While I am not Mitt Romney’s biggest fan (he is a bit too liberal for me), I consider his view of America as the “traditional” American view. That is, you are allowed to succeed or fail on your own. The traditional American view has been that America is the land of opportunity, a place where you can live your life how you want, where you want, with no interference from the government. Don’t like you lot in life? You are fully free to change it as you see fit…no government permissions.
In the traditional American view, the toils of your labors are yours to keep. Yes, a small amount must go to the government (even libertarians like myself see the need for some government), but for the most part, you are working for yourself. This is a very powerful incentive, and one must be a fool not to realize it. Let me quote George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm as an example:
“All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings.”
- George Orwell, Animal Farm, Ch. 6
George Orwell recognized the profound incentive that working for oneself has. The left has often referred to this as greed. If you want to call it greed, I’m fine with that, but I can think of a better term…self-preservation. This is something held over from our species earliest days, from a time when the only way to ensure survival was to look out for yourself. And the ironic thing is that by looking out for oneself, society as a whole prospers. How many jobs are created by “the greedy”? I would argue nearly all private sector jobs are. And as a society, we benefit when the “greedy” compete for more…competition drives down prices, and drives up wages/benefits.
President Obama pledged to fundamentally change America. I believe this is because he has a fundamentally different view of what America should be. His belief is that government should be the central figure in every aspect of our lives. His view is more like that of the European nations, where a cradle to grave nanny state make sure your basic needs are fulfilled. At first glance, this may seem like a grand idea; after all, who does not like free stuff?
But there is a catch to the free stuff…individual freedom and liberty. The tax burden to fund such a huge government is enormous, which is an encroachment on freedom. Consider that every day you work for the government to pay for your taxes is one day that you can’t work for yourself. Currently, the average American works until April 24th to pay his taxes; in England, the date is June 23rd… Two extra months to pay taxes to the government.
And it is not just the extra taxes, nor the rules and regulations that go along with the big government nanny state, it is also the state of mind. When you know that every need will be taken care of, what is the incentive to go out and achieve? The government could certainly pass a law requiring you to work, but with nothing at stake, will you give it your all? The nanny state breeds mediocrity, as who would want to go out and start their own business if they could not reap the rewards. Why would you start your own business if you spend all of your time meeting government mandates? Why would you put your heart and soul, sweat and blood into your own business just so you can give the proceeds to the government?
There is a fundamental difference between the two candidates to be sure. So I ask you, what is your view of what America should be? Traditional? Or something with a European flair?