President Obama spoke the most revealing and clarifying 10 words of his control-freak administration this week: “I think at some point you have made enough money.” Peddling financial regulatory reform at a rally in Quincy, Ill., Obama then ad-libbed peculiar definitions of what he called the “American way” and the profit motive: “(Y)ou can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.”
Fundamental lesson of Capitalism 101: Governments and bureaucrats don’t make what people want and need. They only get in the way. It is individuals, cooperating peacefully and voluntarily, working together without mandate or central design, who produce the world’s goods and services. They make what people desire and demand for themselves, not what Obama and his imperial overlords ordain that the masses should have.
As usual, Obama’s populist demagoguery is telling in its omissions and selectivity. While he lectures on the morality of salary caps for everyone else, his own cabinet is filled with fabulously wealthy CEOs and statist creatures who have parlayed government employment (a “good” service) into private gain as lobbyists, consultants and advisers (“core responsibilities of the financial system”) and then back again to public stints. Revolving doors have always grown the Beltway economy.
To wit: Austan Goolsbee, head of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, is the 15th wealthiest member of the Obama administration, with assets valued at between $1,146,000 to $2,715,000. He also pulled in a University of Chicago salary of $465,000 and additional wages and honoraria worth $93,000, according to the Washingtonian magazine.
What “good” did he provide? The government research fellow and Obama campaign adviser was a champion of extending credit to the un-creditworthy. In a 2007 op-ed for The New York Times, he derided those who called subprime mortgages “irresponsible.” He preferred to describe them as “innovations in the mortgage market” to expand the pool of homebuyers. Now this wrong-headed academic who espoused government policies that fed the housing feeding frenzy is in charge of fixing the loose-credit mess he advocated.
This is the “American way”?
After 16 years in Congress, four years in the Clinton administration as budget director and chief of staff, and a lifetime of schmoozing in the halls of power, Obama’s CIA director, Leon Panetta, cashed in big. He’s sitting on up to $4 million in assets. While he has zero experience in intelligence matters, he has extensive experience in parlaying his past political tours of duty into lucrative speaking gigs, consulting fees and stock options. Welcome to Obama-approved entrepreneurship.
By Obama’s definition, first lady Michelle Obama is a model capitalist. Remember: After serving with real estate mogul Valerie Jarrett in Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, Mrs. Obama took a post at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Jarrett was serving as vice-chair of the medical center’s board of trustees. Mrs. Obama was promoted in 2005 after her husband won his U.S. Senate race with Jarrett’s invaluable aid. As “vice president for community and external affairs” and head of the “business diversity program,” her annual compensation nearly tripled from $122,000 in 2004 to $317,000 in 2005. Even after she went on leave in 2007 to help her husband on the presidential campaign trail, the hospital paid Mrs. Obama $62,709 in 2008, prompting one skeptic to ask: “We know this is Chicago, but isn’t $63,000 quite a lot for a no-show job?”
Jarrett, of course, is now White House senior adviser to the chief spender of other people’s money. And the first lady is now using her new taxpayer-funded position not only to tell folks how they should eat, but also which “good” restaurants and groceries should be built in their neighborhoods.
If there were any doubts left about the Obamas’ ideological commitment to wealth redistribution and a command-and-control economy, those doubts have been thoroughly removed. We have a commander-in-chief who presumes to know when you have earned “enough,” who believes that only those who provide what he deems “good” products and services should “keep on making it,” and who has determined that the role of American entrepreneurs is not to pursue their own self-interest, but to fulfill their “core” responsibility as dutiful growers of the collective economy.
That famous mock-up poster of Obama as the creepy socialist Joker never seemed more apt.