As usual President Obama was at a fundraising event last week. It is reported that he said, "We can't go back to this brand of you're-on-your-own economics." Interesting choice of words; I never heard of any economic system or theory called "you're-on-your-own economics." Other than recent punditry and news articles relating to Obama's reference, I cannot find any other educational or political reference. OK, so the POTUS coined a new phrase, that's cool, but let's think about it.
Obama in the same speech said, "we are not a country that was built on the idea of survival of the fittest" which implies a Darwinist theory of economics, not voluntary free markets, nor socialistic central control. The terminology implies that he means that "you're-on-your-own economic" system is one where people are allowed to suffer for the results of their life choices and if they make poor choices they are held responsible for those choices. A system where people take risks and are expected to live with the results of what risks they choose to take or don't take. As I've pointed out in other columns the vision Obama shared with potential contributors to his political campaign was a the same as the original vision for colonizing the new world by our Pilgrim Forefathers at the Plymouth Colony. They established a communist system, where all farmed together, and whatever they produced was put in a common storehouse. A certain amount of food was rationed to each person regardless of his contribution to the work. Many Pilgrims complained that they were too weak from hunger to do their share of the work. Even the deeply religious Pilgrims took to stealing from one another. In his history of the colony Gov. Bradford wrote "So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue, the next year also if not some way prevented."
So giving up on communism they set up a new system where every family was assigned a parcel of land, and kept what they produced. Gov. Bradford then observed, "The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression." Implementing "you're-on-your-own economics" lead to bountiful harvests which are still celebrated today on the fourth Thursday of every November.
So if we look at history we clearly see that when communism in any form is tried the results are less for everybody. All people who have utopian ideas of people being supplied their needs regardless of input into society forget and ignore human nature. When people don't own something, they don't take care of it. Look at government housing projects as a prime example. The undeniable fact is people tend to work harder and produce more when they own what they produce. Regardless of what any centrally controlled government wants or decides, people will barter for what they want, black market if suppressed by the government, and will protect what is theirs, and let waste and take what they can if allowed that isn't theirs. It is private ownership not public leads to more overall wealth for all.
President Obama's idea that free enterprise means the biggest and meanest and strongest force their will on others is pathologically invalid. Free enterprise and free voluntary trade results in business and people who have characteristics that make them better-equipped to survive and hence reproduce themselves succeed in a particular environment. This does not imply that they must eat, or destroy others.
Artificially protecting businesses, trades, and skills, that without being subsidized would fail, stops progress and hurts growth. Imagine if we had to subsidize all farriers, because economics, technology and business practices lead to a loss of these jobs. What a waste that obviously would be. Now what if somebody invented a faster cheaper way to send letters and other personal correspondence, like say a fax machine, or a computer program that could use phone lines or other connections to send a letter instantly, would it be smart to subsidize people delivering paper messages by hand all across the country? Or should competition result in the business of hand delivering small messages be allowed to go the way of farriers. There are still a small number of farriers earning a living and providing horse shoeing services and products, but it is not nearly the industry it was. Why should there remain subsidies for the Postal Service anymore than subsides for farriers?
Using Obama's economic vision, we would have the government subsidizing buggy whip production so that buggy whip manufacturer employees could keep their jobs. His idea is that we should take from those people whose life choices, luck, drive, and natural ability allowed them to succeed, and give it to those who made bad life choices, or had bad luck, or have no drive, or have little natural ability, sounds a lot like "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need." How many times must we historically witness this caring utopian vision fail when actually implemented before we instead work towards what has historically proven to work. Economic freedom leads to higher standard of living and better quality of life for everybody. So if you care about improving people's lives, then you really care about economic freedom. And having economic freedom doesn't mean having a right to vote, or a right to free health care, or a right to free education, a right to job, a right to food, what Economic freedom means...
If you really cared about people, you'd give up utopian socialistic ideas, that sound compassionate but in reality only grant power to a few ruling elite and make everybody else poorer.