31 May 2007

Self-Reliance and Utopian Fantasies

In a recent speech, Hillary Clinton talked about her desire to change the US from an “on your own” (what she calls Bush’s “ownership society”) society to a “we’re all in it together” society. She said:

"I believe our government can once again work for all Americans. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none."
Special privileges? For people like her husband, perhaps? He’s asking for a lot:

The globe-trotting former president with the New York office and a worldwide charitable enterprise is seeking $1.16 million in taxpayer money for fiscal 2008. That is more than double the amount requested by fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter and substantially more than Republican George H.W. Bush.

Clinton's office attributes much of the cost on New York's pricey rents, noting that his Harlem neighborhood office costs about $500,000 a year, far more than Bush's Houston office at $175,000 and Carter's Atlanta digs at $102,000.

Clinton, who has earned nearly $40 million in speaking fees since leaving office, also wants a lot more for telephone expenses -- $79,000 compared with $17,000 for Bush and $10,000 for Carter.

And while all three former presidents are entitled to pensions of $191,000 next year, Clinton has requested $10,000 more for health insurance.


Not to belabor the point, but even compared to the other two living presidents Bill Clinton is privileged. And if a $10,000 plus-up over his already fantastic health care is what’s envisioned for “universal health care”…it’s a vision that can’t be fulfilled.

And when talking about privilege, about being rich, Hillary Clinton portrays picture altogether. While defending private jet rides she’s taken – and apparently reimbursed donors for – she said,

"I know a lot of rich people. My husband and I never had any money ... now all the sudden we're rich," Clinton said. "I have nothing against rich people. ... but what made America great is the American middle class."

So, she's really not been rich all of this time? Somehow I find that hard to believe. She may not have felt rich, but I'd wager that she's had more access to money and power in her lifetime than either you or I could imagine. But back to the “we’re all in it together” comment. I have to wonder if this can be dove-tailed in with her comments in February regarding Exxon profits:
"I want to take those profits and put them into an alternative energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy alternatives that will actually begin to move us toward the direction of independence."

I have to ask myself if I would trust the US government to spend $39 billion of someone else’s money on what it says it would. I give the government money every paycheck in the form of Social Security tax, and this money I will never see again. It’s already spent; it’s not sitting in some account waiting for me to retire. Where would another $39 billion from Exxon go?

What some are saying is that Hillary Clinton is a rank socialist. I would agree with the socialist part, but I think she’s more of an elitist. Bill earns $40 million is speaking fees since stepping down, yet the couple is only now “rich”. And despite being rich, Bill feels entitled to an extra $10,000 for health care, along with much more than is afforded to other ex-Presidents. But we’re all in it together. And she’s going to take those profits (and not just Exxon’s, either).

I’d prefer to be left alone – to go it alone, as they say – and not have the government make me feel like it is tending to my every need. I only want the government “working for me” when it comes to national defense and providing the infrastructure and institutions which make a representative democracy work and flow. I can’t do those on my own. But I sure can save for my own retirement, choose my own health care (I’d like more options, not one – the federal government) and lift myself by my own boot-straps. And in doing so, I can help others to do the same.

Any government which claims it can tend to the needs of all, which says it can level the playing field for all, which attempts to force equality of outcomes for all is pushing a utopian fantasy.

Post Script - For more on this topic (from better writers than myself), take a look at these two articles: Cal Thomas and Neal Boortz.

1 comment:

cullin said...

"The uniform, constant and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition, the principle from which public and national, as well as private opulence is originally derived, is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things toward improvement, in spite both of the extravagance of government, and of the greatest errors of administration. Like the unknown principle of animal life, it frequently restores health and vigour to the constitution, in spite, not only of the disease, but of the absurd prescriptions of the doctor."

-Adam Smith

As stated by you and Adam Smith, sometimes it's better to work for one's self to better the community, as contradictory as that sounds.