January 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

Then, as you point out, there's the horrible strawman argument about "no single person." This is a rhetorical constant of Obama's presidency. The choice is always between the atomized individual or the loving embrace of federal government in Washington. Either Julia's all alone, or the government has got her back. Any acknowledgment that civil society, families, the free market, etc. are collective enterprises is always omitted from the equation. Either you're the sort of reactionary fool who champions individual freedoms -- indistinguishable from the sort of idiot who'd fight the Wehrmacht with muskets -- or you understand that now is the time for collective action. The problem is that devotion to our individual freedoms isn't merely a "constant of our character" (and would that that were still as true as it once was) it's also a bedrock principle of our constitutional order. That principle is not like a musket or a whale oil lantern or an 8-track tape. And comparing it to one is a horrible category error. -- Jonah Goldberg

Hat-tip: Terri

Quote of the Day Posted by John Kranz at January 22, 2013 12:20 PM

The difference between Jonah's "collective enterprises" and the President's promise of a pervasive protection from risk is that the former is voluntary and reversible, while Barack Obama's "commitments we make to each other" are mandatory and irrevocable.

If I make a commitment to help my neighbor through tough times I can break that commitment if I discover some fecklessness on his part. When such help comes from government it is, so as to be "fair" and "non-discriminatory" entirely based on some metric of need and regardless of any judgement about the virtue of the recipient. A natural result of this is to promote greater "need" among the virtueless.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2013 3:00 PM

It is well understood that the straw man version of the red herring fallacy is a staple of President Obama's speeches. Another less recognized but more destructive techniques is "package dealing."

One of the examples given at the link is the one the President used below to justify redistributive taxation, saying that social programs "free us." This is an attempt to equate economic power with political power.

Most people accept these equivocations--and yet they know that the poorest laborer in America is freer and more secure than the richest commissar in Soviet Russia. What is the basic, the essential, the crucial principle that differentiates freedom from slavery? It is the principle of voluntary action versus physical coercion or compulsion.

The difference between political power and any other kind of social "power" between a government and any private organization, is the fact that a government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2013 3:13 PM | What do you think? [2]