EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 22, 2012

Column: Candidates offer voters a choice to be citizens or subjects

Deroy Murdock
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Citizens or subjects? That is the question.

Dueling videos of former Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama suddenly have gripped the fall campaign. In broad strokes, they outline the candidates’ divergent worldviews.

“There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government,” Romney said. Mother Jones magazine released Romney’s off-the-record comments captured by a hidden camera at a Florida fundraiser last May. These Americans “believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

Romney wishes that he had answered more delicately a donor’s question on who would and would not support his candidacy. But Romney did highlight the 76.1 million Americans whose income tax is $0. Many of them also consider Big Government their great provider. Some feel squashed by a flat-tire economy that thumps along at 1.7 percent growth in gross domestic product. Others have become seduced by an ever-expanding state that caters to their every craving.

“Economic freedom is the only force that has consistently succeeded in creating sustained prosperity,” Romney wrote in Tuesday’s USA Today. “My course for the American economy will encourage private investment and personal freedom. Instead of creating a web of dependency, I will pursue policies that grow our economy and lift Americans out of poverty.”

Romney envisions an enterprise model that would revitalize a nation of thriving, independent citizens.

Conversely, Obama sees government as the transmission that propels society. It sucks funds from the pocketbooks of the affluent, pumps them through the omniscient state, and injects them into the pockets of all sorts of people.

Obama said as much on Oct. 14, 2008, when he told Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Obama echoed his words from almost exactly 10 years earlier. In a recently discovered recording of an Oct. 19, 1998, speech at Loyola University, then Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama said: “I actually believe in redistribution — at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.”

Judging by President Obama’s policies, “a shot” did not mean a limited but reliable safety net. Rather, “a shot” is a lifelong relationship between subjects and a government that satisfies their every need, like a feudal lord minding his vassals.

For Obama, “a shot” does not mean a rifle delivering targeted assistance to, say, a penniless Harlem teenager requiring prenatal care. Instead, it’s a blunderbuss through which 31-year-old Georgetown Law School graduate Sandra Fluke can get free birth control pills via her medical plan. So can every health-insured American female, regardless of income.

For Obama, “a shot” does not mean offering federal school lunches to relatively few needy students, but to every government-school pupil in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. — and every state in 2014. Why? If all students eat subsidized lunches, poor ones will not feel stigmatized.

For Obama, Washington should spend $447 billion on the Jobs for America Act to create, according to Moody’s Analytics, 1.9 million positions at $235,263 each. This is cheap compared to the $34.7 billion that the Department of Energy committed to generate some 60,000 jobs at $578,333 each. A typical private-sector job consumes $62,757 in wages and benefits.

With the unemployment rate lodged above 8 percent for 43 months, Americans increasingly rely on Social Security disability. Its population has grown 16.1 percent, from 9.3 million in 2008 to 10.8 million last August.

And to underwrite this spending, Obama demands higher taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” who earn as little as $200,000. He borrows from China to finance his $5.4 trillion, 50.8 percent increase in the national debt. And Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke greases the presses to print another $40 billion per month.

Citizens or subjects? Enterprise or entitlement? On Nov. 6, the voters decide.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.