“I’ll make college affordable with an annual $4,000 tax credit,” says Sen. Barack Obama.
The crowd of admirers cheers.
“[I]f you’re willing to do community service, or national service,” the Obamessiah continues.
The crowd cheers again.
“We will invest in you, but we’ll ask you to invest in your country.”
Why do people cheer for this? Why do they cheer for the simultaneous expectation of service and entitlement to mollycoddling?
Sen. Obama is appealing to two warring sides of human nature. On the one side is the noble desire to work, to serve, to contribute. On the other lies the desire to be taken care of, provided for, protected, not simply from violations of one’s rights, but from the unfairness and harshness of life itself.
What Sen. Obama offers is the opportunity to live out one’s desire to contribute, and to bask in the good feeling that it provides, but within the cozy living room of federal provision, where government makes dreams come true:
It’s a dream shared in big cities and small towns; across races, regions and religions – that if you work hard, you can support a family; that if you get sick, there will be health care you can afford; that you can retire with the dignity and security and respect that you have earned; that your kids can get a good education, and young people can go to college even if they’re not rich. That is our common hope. That is the American Dream.
Sen. Obama is twisting the American Dream and tapping in to something that we all wish were true: the belief that life is fair, that there’s some sort of universal deal, some social contract, that guarantees a comfortable life for those who deserve it.
There’s just one problem with this wish: It’s false, and, because it’s false, efforts to make it come true cause more harm than good. Life isn’t fair, and Sen. Obama can’t change that.
Many wanna-be federal nannies before Sen. Obama have tried, and they have made matters worse. The welfare state has devastated the family and solidified generational poverty. Government meddling in employee compensation has made health care unaffordable. Social Security indentures the young to the old and limits their ability to save for their own future. Student aid has sent the costs of college soaring.
Sen. Obama offers more of the same, the only change being the lyrical language he uses to wrap the government’s gift of fairness in the ersatz nobility of sponsored contribution.