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The full text of Obama's speech is online.--

The text of Obama's speech is here. I've read it. On balance, it looks excellent.

UPDATE: I think that was the best delivered acceptance speech I've heard since at least Reagan. Reagan perhaps had a little more heart in his delivery; Obama's style is cooler. But then, in prepared remarks Obama comes across as smarter when he talks than Reagan did, though not necessarily deeper.

For both men, their only weaknesses in prepared remarks were that (like almost all politicians) they too often tend to mine platitudes, just different sets of them.

Paul Milligan (mail):
Which part did you like best ?

The part whwere he promises to 'free us from dependance on foreign oil in ten years' ?

The part where he promised free college for every child ?

The part where he says he will 'hire an army of new teachers, and pay them more' ?

The part where he says everyone will ( hard to know what he said - either get free health care, or be forced to by health insurance )? The part where he promises everyone gets the same insurance package as members of Congress ?

The part where he offers to debate McCain even though Nobama has consistently REFUSED to debate him, and cut the debate schedule dwon to a bare minimum, three ?

The part where he promises to 'pay for it will be using a line item veto on the budget' ( which the President doesn't have ) ?
8.28.2008 11:42pm
sbron:
"Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child..."

ICE is not separating the mother from her infant child when the mother is humanely repatriated to her home country. It is the mother's choice to leave her child behind. What kind of mother abandons her child of her own free will?
8.28.2008 11:47pm
James Lindgren (mail):
I meant it looks like a very effective political speech. I didn't mean that I agreed with many of the policy proposals.
8.28.2008 11:49pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Prof. Lindgren, I often find myself disagreeing with you, but I'm glad to agree on this point. If coming from two different points on the spectrum we find ourselves in the same place, that seems a very good place to end up. Here's hoping more people from more points end up hearing these words and agreeing.
8.28.2008 11:49pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Or, then again, maybe not (in re 22:49)
8.28.2008 11:50pm
njones (mail):
I'm sorry you posted this link -- I've been tormenting my wife the last 20 minutes by delivering the speech in stereo to her.
8.28.2008 11:51pm
Paul Milligan (mail):
Sorry, Jim. I misunderstood your point. Yes, Obama writes and delivers a good speech. And he's charismatic about it.

Take away his teleprompter and start asking him for actual PLANS OF EXECUTION rather than fancy promises, and he falls flat on his face.
8.28.2008 11:55pm
mogden (mail):
I hate the socialism, but like the aura of competence and vigor. Quite a quandary. Bob Barr anyone?
8.29.2008 12:00am
egn (mail):
I don't agree with all of his policy proposals, but I'll vote for him because he is the Change America Needs. Not (necessarily) for the reasons he gave, but simply because he's a smart, decent person who honestly believes the things he's saying and wishes the country and its people the best.

Great speech.
8.29.2008 12:01am
MQuinn:
Paul, a quick and cursory google search revealed that Obama won at least one debate during the democratic primary, here.

"He prefers to use a teleprompter" + "He does not have a teleprompter" does not = "he falls flat on his face." Unfortunately, I think that many people believe the latter follows from the former.
8.29.2008 12:04am
ChrisIowa (mail):

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper


By this statement Barak Obama declares that his understanding of the United State of America is completely backwards. The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.

When there is flood or other disaster, I will help my neighbor because he would do the same, but at its core I can only help my neighbor because I have and will take care of my own needs.
8.29.2008 12:13am
CJ2:
The internets is amazing - we can create a caricature of something before it's even over. Could someone point me to the socialism, besides the emphasis on well-regulated markets and personal and collective responsibility? Could you, Mr. Milligan, use actual quotes each time when using quotation marks, instead of sometimes using sarcastic paraphrases?

It's obviously easier to give a concrete plan to keep the status quo, but does anyone (even here) honestly think that's been working?
8.29.2008 12:13am
CJ2:

The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.


Sad.
8.29.2008 12:14am
Jerrod Ankenman:
Given that this was basically known beforehand to be Obama's most important speech from now until inauguration, I was fairly underwhelmed. I mean, sure, McCain dreams of giving speeches this effective, but this was hardly the electrifying oratory I expected going on. Maybe that's unfair, but it is what it is.
8.29.2008 12:16am
NYU JD:
MQuinn--

It's one thing to win a Democratic primary debate, where there's no real clash on the issues. Throughout the debates, the question was never which Dem had the best ideas; they all had the same platform with only minor differences, and significantly different personalities. When he has to go up against someone who actually has policy differences, I don't see him doing well.

Back to the main subject: It'll play well with Dems and voters who are independent for lack of thinking. It won't convince cynical independents and Republicans; it was all standard liberal boilerplate, delivered effectively. Clinton was much more innovative and appealing to conservatives.

Overall, I'd expect a transient 4-6% bump out of the convention. Not enough to scare the Republicans or to make a serious dent.
8.29.2008 12:17am
PC:
I liked the part where he said he would turn the US into a new Islamic Caliphate and make everyone get gay married.
8.29.2008 12:18am
therut:
No sad but the truth. I can not think of ONE time the .gov has helped me individually. Not one. I am glad I have the sense to take care of myself. If I was still waiting on the .gov I would be pregnant and barefoot sitting on a front porch that was rotting through.. Thank God my parents never depended on .gov or there we the whole family would still be sitting on that rotten porch wondering when the check was going to be delivered. I have friends still sitting on those porches and the children and grandchildren with them.
8.29.2008 12:20am
PLR:
That was one hell of a speech, and fantastically delivered. Cue that up against Senator Clinton's speech from a couple of nights ago, and there's no comparison between the impact of them.

Probably the best speech I've heard since Mario Cuomo many years ago laid down the law in a brutally frank speech that left everyone almost too breathless to applaud. My kind of stuff.
8.29.2008 12:22am
Redlands (mail):

I don't agree with all of his policy proposals, but I'll vote for him because he is the Change America Needs. Not (necessarily) for the reasons he gave, but simply because he's a smart, decent person who honestly believes the things he's saying and wishes the country and its people the best.

Great speech.


Where did, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," come from? egn, I'm sure he's a nice enough guy. But I honestly can't think of a presidential candidate, especially a candidate, who came across as the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. They're too busy trying to win the ultimate popularity poll. On that point, if a candidate could actually deliver on every campaign promise and pie-in-the-sky proposal for world peace, a chicken in every pot, blah, blah, blah, I might vote for him even if he was Hitler reborn!
8.29.2008 12:23am
Per Son:
Therut:

.gov helped me with student loans.
.gov helped me with college grants
.gov helped me with funds for freeways so I can travel by car for great distances

That is just a few things.
8.29.2008 12:23am
Obvious (mail):
egn: "I don't agree with all of his policy proposals, but I'll vote for him because he is the Change America Needs."

Yes. Exactly. But with apologies to The Dark Knight, not the Change America Deserves...
8.29.2008 12:23am
AKD:
Here's hoping that McCain opens his speech with:

"My friends, cynicism towards government is good."

...and runs from there.
8.29.2008 12:24am
mad the swine (mail):
"The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. "

Absolutely. Where would we be today if our best and brightest had wasted their lives defending some silly notion of a collective "America", fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, for example, instead of defending their own homes and lands and trusting everyone else to take care of themselves and do likewise?

Why, the Japanese invasion might have rolled over the entire United States, instead of stopping at the Rockies...
8.29.2008 12:25am
J. Aldridge:
No sign of any CHANGE in this speech. It's your typical promises, promises, promises...
8.29.2008 12:26am
Angus:

The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.

Which, of course, is exactly what Obama said. Read again what you typed.

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation

The founders would not have found anything objectionable in there. While believing in individual responsibility, they were also very concerned about civic virtue and the common good. Some of them would, though, differ about whether the government should have a large role in such things.
8.29.2008 12:27am
mad the swine (mail):
"ICE is not separating the mother from her infant child when the mother is humanely repatriated to her home country. It is the mother's choice to leave her child behind. What kind of mother abandons her child of her own free will?"

This is why we need to repeal 'birthright citizenship' and make US citizenship dependent on the citizenship of the parents. The current legal regime, which allows for citizen children to be born to illegal parents, has done more to divide Hispanic families than anything else I can remember.
8.29.2008 12:28am
ChrisIowa (mail):

The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.



Sad.


Why do you think it sad that I can take care of myself? As I indicated before, it's only because I have taken care of myself that I can then help my neighbor.
8.29.2008 12:29am
Paul Milligan (mail):
MQuinn- "Paul, a quick and cursory google search revealed that Obama won at least one debate during the democratic primary, here. "

Out of how many ? I forget. 10 ? 12 ? More ?



CJ2 - "Could you, Mr. Milligan, use actual quotes each time when using quotation marks, instead of sometimes using sarcastic paraphrases?"

You mean like that ? But unless I were inclined to attempt to type Nobama's words exactly ( bloviation and all ), the use of '....' is appropriate. And there was no sarcasm in anything I said, except in the basic premise that the things he promised are clearly from la-la land, utterly undeliverable, even if he HAD an actual plan in mind, which he doesn't.
8.29.2008 12:29am
James Lindgren (mail):
The best delivered acceptance speech since at least Reagan.
8.29.2008 12:31am
Hoosier:
"It's obviously easier to give a concrete plan to keep the status quo, but does anyone (even here) honestly think that's been working?"

On balance? Yes, I do.
8.29.2008 12:33am
Hoosier:
"
The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.


Which, of course, is exactly what Obama said. Read again what you typed.


That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation"

Sad.
8.29.2008 12:35am
MQuinn:
NYU JD -- I disagree with you. It is of course true that the differences between the democratic candidates were insignificant compared to the differences between Obama and McCain. However, during the primary debates, these differences were pointed out, debated, and exploited by the candidates and the moderators. Thus, a true substantive debate occurred that forced Obama to articulate difficult concept extemporaneously. In spite of the lack of a teleprompter during theses debates, Obama scored at least one victory, which is strong evidence that he does not "fall flat on his face" when he is not reading from a script.

Paul -- I attacked your statement that Obama "falls flat on his face" when speaking extemporaneously. Winning a debate against what might be called professional debaters -- politicians -- tends to negate your conclusion that Obama can't string a sentence together w/o a teleprompter. And I have no idea how many he won; I stopped looking after I found proof of a single win.
8.29.2008 12:42am
mogden (mail):
Well, for me, the socialism was the appeal to involve the government more in the economy, such as equal pay for equal work, subsidies for energy and college education, mandated sick leave, etc.
8.29.2008 12:51am
T Hart:

Here's hoping that McCain opens his speech with:

"My friends, cynicism towards government is good."

...and runs from there.


"...And if anyone has invoked more cynicism toward government, it has been us. Vote Republican."
8.29.2008 1:01am
Constantin:
Best delivered speech since Reagan. That means he outdid:

Mondale, Bush Sr., Dukakis, Clinton, Dole, Bush Jr., Gore, Kerry.

Kind of like being the tallest midget upon closer examination. Churchill need not sweat.
8.29.2008 1:05am
good strategy (mail):
My #1 impression of the speech, oddly enough, was anticipating the contrast in the crowds. Obama's crowd looked approximately like California. Even if McCain manages to POW and demonize his way into victory somehow, the GOP is facing demographic doom.

Also, Republicans very well may regret playing the patriotism card in such a despicable manner the past 7 years if people accept the formulation that patriotism is a healthy sense of collective responsibility, that we are proud of America as a nation, and not just a state.

About the above,

why must so many people flail around in a desperate attempt to repeal the growing interdependence of the world?

Because they appear to be arrogant enough to think that everything good that ever happened to them was based on their own merit, or maybe their family's. Thousands of years of technological development, a national infrastructure, the education of self and society, safe neighborhoods, they just appear out of thin air, like magic, a level playing field for the perfect meritocracy we all know we have today on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's March on Washington. I wonder how many of them were already alive in 1963?

Volokh can be a trippy blog, a libertarian ethos co-existing with imperialism, militarism, and mindless nationalism. Never has incoherence and an ideology of greed been so nicely wrapped up in intellectualism.
8.29.2008 1:13am
good strategy (mail):

Winning a debate against what might be called professional debaters -- politicians -- tends to negate your conclusion that Obama can't string a sentence together w/o a teleprompter.


Yeah, the teleprompter must have come in handy at Harvard Law. It is truly astonishing how people have come to the conclusion that he's thoughtful and intelligent.

Still, if the Republicans want to set the expectation that McCain's a better debater than Obama, suits me. That didn't work so well for Gore. The expectations for Obama's speech tonight were sky-high, and he met or exceeded them, at least according to Bill Kristol and Chris Wallace.
8.29.2008 1:16am
PLR:

Volokh can be a trippy blog, a libertarian ethos co-existing with imperialism, militarism, and mindless nationalism. Never has incoherence and an ideology of greed been so nicely wrapped up in intellectualism.

Say what? You've never clicked over to NRO?
8.29.2008 1:20am
Brian K (mail):
therut,

No sad but the truth. I can not think of ONE time the .gov has helped me individually. Not one.

that must be for lack of imagination. you've previously mentioned that you are a doctor. the government spends lots of money in educating you throughout residency. and if you took out loans to help pay for that medical education, the government helped you out there too.
8.29.2008 1:22am
mogden (mail):
@Brian K - If the government didn't subsidize student loans, college tuition would be lower for everyone. So is it really "help"?
8.29.2008 1:25am
Brian K (mail):
mogden,

you might as well argue that college tuition would be lower if companies stopped paying college graduates so much more, thus reducing demand. it's an equally ridiculous argument.
8.29.2008 1:29am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
@mogden, And better yet, without government aid higher education could again be restricted to the more deserving upper classes, without those pesky (and in some cases not even white) upstarts.
8.29.2008 1:37am
mogden (mail):
@Brian K - the difference is that companies pay those graduates more voluntarily, rather than the government taking taxpayer money by force to distribute it in ways decided by politics.

But I agree that college tuition would in fact be lower if companies stopped paying college graduates so much more. Perhaps you think the government should mandate that companies treat poorly educated workers more fairly?
8.29.2008 1:38am
therut:
Brian-----LOL!!! The free labor they beat out of me for 7 years more than made up for the small loans. All of 18,000 in loans back in mid 80's.(That I payed back in 2 years) The money I saved them with all the scut work is unbelievable. The nights getting up at 0300 to draw blood and start IV's cause it was not in the nurses job description just makes me feel fuzzy all over. I mean they were already up sitting around eating pizza. Not to count the times I had to sleep on the floor in a construction zone cause no beds were available for the on-call residents.(without a pillow or even a sheet). I would gladly have borrowed the money privately and not been abused for my payment. Now they expect me to work for them under a MORE socialized system. Just great!!! Maybe I will retire before all that gets set up. I just dread when I am old and sick and all I can see is a .gov physician.(Think VA system or State Hospital System) I might just stay home and die.
8.29.2008 1:59am
wolfefan (mail):
Chris Iowa argues that "The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF."

The noted socialist and collectivist Bob Dole argued quite the opposite when he ran for President, talking endlessly about how his home town took care of him when he came home from the war. Republicans and conservatives seemed to like it then.
8.29.2008 2:21am
LN (mail):
A society in which everyone is 100% on their own would tend to reduce risk-taking and the potential for upward mobility. It would also probably lack a military and a highway system, to name just a couple of things.
8.29.2008 2:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The fundamental belief that has formed America is that I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF


Like lots of other good ideas, this idea can be taken to an extreme. And it has, by the GOP. I think a handy simplification of the two parties is as follows:

R: Every man for himself. The hell with you, hurray for me.
D: United we stand, divided we fall. We're all in this together.

As someone above suggested, conservatism has become an elaborate rationalization for greed and selfishness.
8.29.2008 2:39am
Brian K (mail):
therut,

oh boo hoo, shame on them for making you do the job of a medical resident! perhaps you should have made a better choice of which residency programs to apply to?

it doesn't change the fact that medical education receives massive subsidies that you didn't have to pay. the only way you can claim the government didn't help you out is if you voluntarily paid them back for all those expenses...which i somehow doubt.
8.29.2008 2:51am
Brian K (mail):
dang, mr. lazarus had the better response than i did
8.29.2008 2:56am
Brian K (mail):
mogden,

i forgot to mention that there is this little thing called competition. this would keep the rise in tuition to minimal levels as colleges compete against each for applicants based on price. i'm surprised you've never heard of it.
8.29.2008 3:02am
Anonymous #000:
The noted socialist and collectivist Bob Dole argued quite the opposite when he ran for President, talking endlessly about how his home town took care of him when he came home from the war. Republicans and conservatives seemed to like it then.
The difference is that Bob was talking about a voluntary effort -- the townsfolk help themselves and they help each other. Contrast that with government efforts -- the state decides to whom to allocate funds taken by threat of violence.

It's the difference between individual sovereignty and state sovereignty. Tales of the culture of generosity under individual sovereignty are lost on many people because they have never experienced it. They only understand government as it exists or none at all, which leads them to accept whatever politicians propose that they think will get them a piece of the tax pie.

What I mean to say is, calling Bob Dole's tale "socialist" is either completely blind (to voluntaryism) or opaquely cynical.
8.29.2008 3:13am
RSF677:
It is my understanding that most of the subsidies to medical education are captured by a variety of people other than residents. I'm a little shocked that even today after 4 years of medical school, you go into a residency program and earn like $45K per year. I'm certainly not crying for doctors, but it is a little disingenuous to suggest that residents are living high off the hog at those salaries. At that pay, even in this down market you're better off financially becoming an investment banker.
8.29.2008 3:21am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
good strategy -

You seem to be insinuating that libertarianism is an "ideology of greed". That's a pretty strong statement to leave unsupported. Care to elaborate?
8.29.2008 3:22am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dang, mr. lazarus had the better response than i did


He's done that to me, too. I think more than once. Join the club.
8.29.2008 3:41am
LM (mail):
Pat Buchanan said it was the best, and the most important convention speech he's ever heard, i.e., since JFK / Nixon. But what do you expect a leftist like him to say?
8.29.2008 6:08am
therut:
In 1986 I made 18,600 a year as a Resident. In 1989 through 1992 it was 23,000. I really did not matter cause I had no time to spend it on anything but rent and gas. I calculated out last week that I make 14.60 profit on each office vist today after taxes. No wonder patients feel like they get run through the clinic like cattle. Today I quiet offering Tetanus shots to Medicaid patients. I have to pay 16.00 a dose and Medicaid pays me 12.00. Yea. Socialized Medicine.
8.29.2008 6:53am
therut:
Buchanan knows where his check comes from. Plus he is anti-Israel to the core. He is the token so called "Conservative" on MSNBC.
8.29.2008 6:56am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

Pat Buchanan said it was the best, and the most important convention speech he's ever heard, i.e., since JFK / Nixon.


He obviously said that only because he's applying affirmative action.

Oops, too late. I see that therut essentially said what I said. Except he said it with a straight face. We really do live in a post-satirical era.
8.29.2008 9:47am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
therut:

Buchanan knows where his check comes from. … He is the token so called "Conservative" on MSNBC.


Presumably you apply the equivalent reasoning when you evaluate statements made by Alan Colmes? So if Colmes said that McCain delivered a great speech, you would remind us that Colmes "knows where his check comes from?"
8.29.2008 9:47am
zippypinhead:
Fantastic speech from delivery, atmospherics, and inspiration of the faithful standpoints. But as with most mass audience political speeches, State of the Union Addresses, etc., one can have a lot of fun dissecting and re-phrasing the substantive points to highlight what the speaker really means. For example:
"The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals."
In other words (moving from the general to the specific): I generally favor a right of local governments to enact gun control ordinances that are stricter than Federal or state laws. I favor new "assault weapon" bans at any level. I favor D.C.'s current ordinance defining any semi-automatic firearm with a removable magazine as a prohibited "machine gun."

Or, to just focus on the meta issue: The Second Amendment as interpreted by my Supreme Court nominees at most permits rural hunters to use bolt-action long guns during whatever hunting season the Federal, state and local governments decide is permissible through their reasonable regulations.

This game should provide hours of fun for all!
8.29.2008 10:19am
Ben P (mail):

No sad but the truth. I can not think of ONE time the .gov has helped me individually. Not one. I am glad I have the sense to take care of myself. If I was still waiting on the .gov I would be pregnant and barefoot sitting on a front porch that was rotting through.


This may be a bit tardy, but....

All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?
Xerxes:
The aqueduct.
Reg:
Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That's true.
Masked Activist:
And the sanitation!
Stan:
Oh yes... sanitation, Reg, you remember what the city used to be like.
Reg:
All right, I'll grant you that the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done...
Matthias:
And the roads...
Reg:
(sharply) Well yes obviously the roads... the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads...
Another Masked Activist:
Irrigation...
Other Masked Voices:
Medicine... Education... Health...
Reg:
Yes... all right, fair enough...
Activist Near Front:
And the wine...
Omnes:
Oh yes! True!
Francis:
Yeah. That's something we'd really miss if the Romans left, Reg.
Masked Activist at Back:
Public baths!
Stan:
And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now.
Francis:
Yes, they certainly know how to keep order... (general nodding)... let's face it, they're the only ones who could in a place like this.

(more general murmurs of agreement)
Reg:
All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?
8.29.2008 10:26am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ben:

what have the Romans done for us?


Very good. Here's a link with a version that's formatted in a way that might be easier to read.
8.29.2008 10:56am
gs:
I think that was the best delivered acceptance speech I've heard since at least Reagan.

IMO the Thousand Points of Light/Read My Lips speech was a great speech and it would be remembered as such if Bush Sr. had governed thereby.
8.29.2008 11:53am
nicestrategy (mail):

You seem to be insinuating that libertarianism is an "ideology of greed". That's a pretty strong statement to leave unsupported. Care to elaborate?


Radical libertarianism, yes. My evidence, for the time being, will simply be:


Today I quiet offering Tetanus shots to Medicaid patients.


Although many more such similar sentiments can be found on the Volokh Conspiracy, almost daily.

PS: I take a $500 loss on office supplies each year for my classroom. Sometimes you do what's right, even if it isn't perfectly fair to you. Its entirely possible that I make more money that the esteemed Doctor. Whether or not his personal life has benefited a little or a lot from government policy is really beside the point. The ideological presumption that there are no public goods, positive externalities from government policy, or social interdependence is intellectually -- and morally -- bankrupt.
8.29.2008 12:06pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
nicestrategy-

Radical libertarianism, yes.

Well as Ludwig von Mises said elsewhere in the passage I'm about to quote below: "It is hardly possible to misrepresent in a more thorough way the fundamental facts of economics."

If "therut" went bankrupt and could no longer operate his practice and therefore could no longer serve his patients would that be a "public good"? And note that the harm that would come if his practice went bankrupt would be more severe if it were in a poor and underserved geographic area - his patients would have fewer alternatives, would have to travel further for alternatives, etc.

In my opinion the paragraph I'm about to quote by von Mises is probably one of the top twenty paragraphs written in the last century in terms of economic and societal importance. It tells you most of what you need to set up a prosperous economy.(There are some other important factors, like a stable, backed currency, but it gets the main points.) Here it is:

"It is not easy to explain this state of affairs to people misled by the passionate anti-capitalistic agitation. As the self-styled intellectuals see it, the capitalist system and the greed of the businessmen are to blame for the fact that the total sum of products turned out for consumption is not greater than it actually is. The only way to do away with poverty they know is to take away — by means of progressive taxation — as much as possible from the well-to-do. In their eyes the wealth of the rich is the cause of the poverty of the poor. In accordance with this idea the fiscal policies of all nations and especially also of the United States were in the last decades directed toward confiscating ever-increasing portions of the wealth and income of the higher brackets. The greater part of the funds thus collected would have been employed by the taxpayers for saving and additional capital accumulation. Their investment would have increased productivity per man-hour and would in this way have provided more goods for consumption. It would have raised the average standard of living of the common man. If the government spends them for current expenditure, they are dissipated and capital accumulation is concomitantly slowed down."

It illustrates the counterintuitive concept that high tax rates, especially high progressive tax rates, deplete the capital stock (capital accumulation) and actually make everyone, including the poor, poorer. The inverse - low tax rates - increase the capital stock and make everyone, including the poor, richer because standards of living are raised. This increase in the capital stock (capital accumulation) also benefits the poor because employment is increased.

So to call libertarianism an "ideology of greed" is not only insulting, it is also 180 degrees incorrect. The policies recommended actually increase economic prosperity leading to fewer poor people, eventually the smallest amount societally possible. Perhaps a more apt term would be an "ideology of freedom, prosperity, and anti-poverty resulting from a realistic understanding of economics".

It's not that libertarians don't want to help the poor, they just know that redistributionist, collectivist, socialist, etc. schemes hurt more than help and they hurt everyone (resulting in decreasing standards of living for everyone), although they hurt the poor most of all. Communism is the ultimate in redistribution and it illustrates Mises point nicely (or rather not so nicely) - it results in stagnation, poverty, declining standards of living, and often starvation.

As far as your other remarks go:

Sometimes you do what's right, even if it isn't perfectly fair to you.

The problem is what you are talking about is not right. If "therut"'s practice goes out of business his patients are out of luck, along with him personally and society.(Society benefits from the services he provides AND the taxes he pays on his - apparently "evil" in your eyes - profits. Funny, when the government then spends that "evil" tax money it magically becomes a "public good".)

The $500 you spend on school supplies is basically private charity and as long as you didn't steal that money from someone else it is fine. That's your choice. But you aren't in business either. The ability of "therut" to provide his services relies on making a profit. If he goes bankrupt, the result is no services and no tax revenue.

Whether or not his personal life has benefited a little or a lot from government policy is really beside the point.

Not at all. Society's interests are tied to his, which is part of the beauty of capitalism - individual interests are linked to societal interests. The more successful "therut" is, the more value he is creating and the more society benefits, through tax revenue, his services, etc.

The ideological presumption that there are no public goods, positive externalities from government policy, or social interdependence is intellectually -- and morally -- bankrupt.

Public goods - There are public goods, but more public goods are provided by libertarian policy recommendations. And under the libertarian policies society itself provides the public goods, it is not dependent on government.

Positive externalities from government - Libertarianism doesn't say there are none. But most are actually so inefficient society would have been better off providing those themselves.

Social Interdependence - Incorrect. Markets are built on social interdependence. Markets strengthen social interdependence. Libertarians have no problem with voluntary, non-coercive social interdependence.
8.29.2008 1:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
psikh:

The greater part of the funds thus collected would have been employed by the taxpayers for saving and additional capital accumulation. Their investment would have increased productivity per man-hour and would in this way have provided more goods for consumption. It would have raised the average standard of living of the common man.


I hope McCain hears you and announces as loudly as possible that he believes in trickle-down economics.
8.29.2008 2:01pm
nicestrategy (mail):
Psikh --

Your failure to distinguish a range of policy choices within the overall label of "libertarian" conveniently creates a strawman, one that you only semi-successfully knock down. I don't have the time to rebut all that. No one is arguing for people to go bankrupt.

Providing appropriate classroom supplies is not private charity. It is a basic part of being a professional teacher, albeit an aggravating one when you first enter the profession and realize that your real wages are a bit less than you even anticipated. A bit less. Believe it or not, most teachers don't define their professional duties through the stipulations of a union contract of what must be provided. Not everyone bases their career choices on a matrix of self-interest. If doctors enter the field for the $, so be it. Sending an eldery person who needs a tetanus shot elsewhere because you are too lazy to collect a copay or just suck up the extremely marginal loss is evidence of someone who has their priorities out of wack.

therut is himself a strawman, I suppose. Shrieking "socialism" in the face of abundant evidence that Obama believes in markets and a mostly private sector economy may or may not be representative of conservative critics, but it seems to be the norm here. Thus, I limited my remarks to addresses the absolutists who seem to believe that all their success is completely due to themselves, an absurd notion on its face.

Markets do not provide infrastructure or long term planning worth a damn, no matter how ofter one asserts that they do. Waiting for the climate to irrevocably change before responding is not efficient -- it is selling out our children so we can afford more luxuries.

Yup, an ideology of greed. At least in the hands of ideologues.
8.29.2008 2:43pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
jukeboxgrad-

I hope McCain hears you and announces as loudly as possible that he believes in trickle-down economics.

Sorry, the linked essay by Mises predates Reagan's speeches. It's just good, old-fashioned, competent Austrian economics. Why don't you address what was linked instead of trying to bring up Reagan.

Since communism confiscates everyones wealth and redistributes based on the politicians' opinions of "need" that's the epitome of what you refer to as "We're all in this together", yet it tends to result in poverty, stagnation, declining standards of living, and often starvation. Why is that?
8.29.2008 5:32pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
nice strategy-

Your failure to distinguish a range of policy choices within the overall label of "libertarian" conveniently creates a strawman, one that you only semi-successfully knock down. I don't have the time to rebut all that.

Well you were the one that used "ideology of greed" as shorthand for all of libertarian philosophy. When questioned you mentioned "therut"'s remark as an example, which I addressed. I addressed the only specific example you provided.

No one is arguing for people to go bankrupt.

You criticized him for discontinuing services he would have to perform at a loss due to government interference. If he were forced to perform a significant amount of services at a loss the eventual result would be bankruptcy.

Believe it or not, most teachers don't define their professional duties through the stipulations of a union contract of what must be provided. Not everyone bases their career choices on a matrix of self-interest.

That's your choice since you chose the profession. If it's generally expected perhaps it's an unofficial cost rather than charity.

Regardless of how you made your career choice self-interest played a part in it since otherwise you would do it for free. Since you seem to enjoy equating "self-interest" with "greed" when referring to libertarians, I guess it's only fair that one can note that you too made your career choice at least partially based on "greed".

If doctors enter the field for the $, so be it. Sending an eldery person who needs a tetanus shot elsewhere because you are too lazy to collect a copay or just suck up the extremely marginal loss is evidence of someone who has their priorities out of wack.

Well the "old lady" ploy is emotionally manipulative and disingenuous, no one said anything about any little old ladies.

But doctors in private practice do have to make money, otherwise they can't practice. So they have to be "in it for the $" to an extent regardless of why they entered the profession.

Shrieking "socialism" in the face of abundant evidence that Obama believes in markets and a mostly private sector economy may or may not be representative of conservative critics, but it seems to be the norm here.

That's because it's a continuum. The more you increase taxes the more you deplete the capital stock and weaken the private economy. So generally any increase in taxation tends to produce less societal wealth, both in the present and going forward. That's the most important principle from the paragraph I linked above. Regardless of whether someone believes "mostly" in a private sector economy if they're increasing taxes they are reducing societal wealth in the present and going forward.

Thus, I limited my remarks to addresses the absolutists who seem to believe that all their success is completely due to themselves, an absurd notion on its face.

Why is that relevant? Are you one of these bitter teachers that gets upset because some of your students go on to be successful in lucrative careers? (I knew of some teachers that were so bitter about a student's success that they followed the person to graduate school to slander and sabotage the person.) If so, that is nonsense. You picked your career knowing what the compensation would likely be. And besides, teachers generally have excellent benefits and retirement packages. A pension of $50K a year is basically equivalent to getting a million dollars. And that isn't even counting healthcare benefits.

Markets do not provide infrastructure or long term planning worth a damn, no matter how ofter one asserts that they do.

Nonsense. Long term planning is often problematic because change occurs so rapidly. Markets signal and react to change very effectively. Take oil, for example. As the price of oil rises there is motivation for conservation, research, efficiency, etc. - all happening automatically.

Yup, an ideology of greed. At least in the hands of ideologues.

No, everyone is at least partially motivated by self-interest, you just like to call the self-interest of other people "greed" when it suits you. It's an ideology of freedom, prosperity, and anti-poverty - much more so than socialism, collectivism, etc.
8.29.2008 6:27pm