Politics: 27 January 2011

Maybe Not a Person There

I’m a little late on getting to this, but it’s been on my mind since I saw it in real time. During the State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on earth.” Oh yeah! That’s because everyone in that room was rich and had health insurance. As I’ve said before, I’m grateful to have been born in the United States—most of the world is much worse. But that doesn’t mean that the United States is the best nation on earth. If you are at the top of the economic/power ladder, there is no better nation than the United States. If you are not, there is.

I have a quotation from Roger D. Hodge’s excellent The Mendacity of Hope that encapsulates the problem in the United States:

TARP participants were asked to fill out a simple two-page form, several orders of magnitude less complex and less onerous than an application for unemployment insurance or food stamps.

And that about sums up the United States of America. If you are at the bottom and you need a couple hundred dollars for food, the government will treat you like a common criminal. If you are at the top and you need a couple hundred billion dollars, the government will treat you like the leader of the Allied Forces in World War II who happens to have fallen on hard times. It might be that poor guy’s own fault that he’s hungry, but he isn’t making anyone else hungry. Those who took billions of dollars from TARP not only made themselves hungry—they made millions of others hungry. And for doing so, they were generously rewarded.