Evil Right-Wingers Turn to Family, Not Government

Campaigning at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio last week, President Obama raised quite eloquently -- okay, succinctly -- the question of where one should turn for help in pursuing one's happiness.  The answer: government, "applause"; family, "booo."

Making a pitch for greater government control of student loans, Obama cited himself as an example of the value of education, saying, "I got an education and it worked out pretty good.  (Laughter and applause.)"

The White House website, which dutifully records alleged audience reaction in its transcripts, does not specify whether the "laughter" here was at the expense of the Harvard lawyer's primary school drop-out grammar, so we must assume it was not.

At any rate, Obama then went on to contrast his approach to funding post-secondary education with his opponent's.

I'm only standing before you because of the chance that my education gave me.  So I can tell you, with some experience, that making higher education more affordable for our young people -- it's something I've got a personal stake in....  That's part of the reason why November is so important.  (Applause.)

And I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families just doesn't seem to be a big priority for my opponent.  A few months ago, just up the road, in Westerville, Governor Romney said, if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or start a business, you can just -- and I'm quoting here -- "borrow money if you have to from your parents." 


Let's interrupt here for a moment to take stock of Obama's rhetorical bait, and the audience's (intended) response.  The choice Obama is setting up is clear: more government entitlements, requiring more taxation and more federal regulation of outcomes, versus private citizens relying on their own available means, and parents who see their children's future as their own responsibility, rather than yet another moral obligation they can pass off to "society."

Obama's audience greeted the latter option -- people taking responsibility for their own lives, and parents taking care of their own children -- with boos. 

Sensing he was on a roll, Obama continued his inspiring plea for making every young person a ward of the state.

THE PRESIDENT: When a high school student in Youngstown asked him what he would do to make college more affordable for families like his, Governor Romney didn't say anything about grants or loan programs that are critical to millions of students to get a college education.  He said nothing about work-study programs or rising college tuition.  He didn't say a word about community colleges or how important higher education is to America's future.  He said, the best thing you can do is shop around. 


THE PRESIDENT: The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.


THE PRESIDENT: That's it.  That's his plan.  That's his answer to young people who are trying to figure out how to go to college and make sure that they don't have a mountain of debt -- shop around and borrow more money from your parents. 

So when a teenager asks how he is to pay for his education, the proper response is to recite all the ways government can force other people to help him.  Imagine Romney's gall, therefore, in suggesting that a young person might have to "shop around" for an affordable school.  Shopping around implies that one cannot simply go where one likes and do what one pleases without fear of the consequences. 

One can easily understand why this notion would be an outrage -- not to mention incomprehensible -- to the president. 

After all, in Obama's land of opportunity, every youngster without means ought to be able to parlay his laziness, lack of inquisitiveness, and extensive drug use into a grand tour of America's great universities, from Occidental to Columbia to Harvard.  Every hard-partying, class-cutting student-activist mediocrity ought to have a chance to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review, once Harvard Law has conveniently abandoned its traditional method of selection (grades).

Somehow, this opportunity was presented to Obama, and no one can deny that this "worked out pretty good" -- for him, at least.  Following his plan, and with a little luck, in a generation, America might be blessed with an entire population of young Obamas -- men and women with egos that far outstrip their accomplishments, a sense of entitlement on a grand scale, and a vested emotional interest in defending and supporting progressive programs that produce government dependency and love for Big Brother.

Rejecting this path to "progress" would require families to be more circumspect in planning and saving for their children's futures.  It would require young people to think rationally about which schools are legitimately available to them.  As opposed to saddling "society" with one's bills, in one way or another, which promotes irresponsibility, relying on one's family for assistance would tend to instill students with a sense of appreciation for the opportunity they have been given, and a feeling of obligation to prove oneself worthy of the family's sacrifice.

And yes, rejecting Obama's progressive path might also mean that some young people would have to forego post-secondary education altogether, in favor of other avenues.  The push for universal college education has created a plethora of college programs teaching skills that could be -- and in the past, would have been -- taught in secondary schools, or learned by other means, such as through apprenticeships.  This, in turn, has created among employers an unnatural reliance on these unnecessary college programs, which become an easy but inadequate substitute for a proper vetting process.  No diploma, no job -- skills, character, and motivation be damned. 

(Take one easy example: does anyone believe that newspapers are better today, hiring only journalism graduates, than they were fifty years ago, when there were few college graduates on the entire staff?  If a young Ernest Hemingway applied for a job at the Toronto Star today, the college graduate receptionists would laugh him out the door.)

By pushing everyone, and every kind of training, into colleges and universities, governments and their corporate cronies have achieved an effect similar to that of promoting the phony goal of universal home ownership.  The market has been rigged to produce artificially inflated demand, which causes costs to rise, as the law of the market follows its predictable path, even when the market has been distorted by government intervention.

And here we come to a fundamental divide between Obama's view of higher education as a government project and Romney's view of it as essentially a private family matter.  The difference is that Obama's view would shield education from market considerations, whereas Romney's depends on conditions of economic freedom.

Shopping around requires a competitive market, which is what Obama seeks to skew to the point of obliteration with government loan and grant programs that would remove any remaining market restraints on tuition rates, causing them to skyrocket far beyond even today's inflated levels.  If everyone "must" have a post-secondary education, and everyone is provided artificial access to whatever funding is required by means of unlimited government largesse, then we need not be Milton Friedman to see which way the tuition winds will blow.  The river of money flowing into higher education, on which its salaries and perks depend, widens and deepens.

And, naturally, when the government-precipitated "student loan crisis" comes, government will blame the market and demand more money ("investment") and regulations.  ("Applause.")

So what's wrong with telling young people in search of higher education to "shop around and borrow money from your parents"?  Absolutely nothing, once you understand that the alternative to that option is to give the federal government, rather than parents, a controlling interest over children's lives, and a moral and financial claim on their future.  If everyone must borrow through government channels to pay for higher education, everyone ends up a debtor, not master, of the government.

Obama is arguing these days that the existence of government programs that "help" you overrides any claims you might make to private ownership of your life and success.  (That is the underlying meaning of "You didn't build that.")  This is why he is always seeking to create more programs to "help" you in more ways.  The aim is to make the web of government beneficence so omnipresent and inescapable that finally Obama's illogical argument -- government takes your wealth to pay for programs; the existence of these programs proves you have no right to that wealth -- will begin to seem perfectly rational.

Only health care approaches education in its power to reveal the full meaning of progressive social policy.  In the name of helping "working families," Obama wants to finish the left's job of driving a permanent wedge between parents and children, replacing a traditional and all-important family responsibility with the caring hand of government.

The aim is to universalize the responses of Obama's audience in Columbus: families should care for their own -- "booo"; government should provide for and control everyone's future -- "applause."

Applause for the supplanting of family by government, the demise of familial obligation, and the annihilation of the next generation's sense of personal responsibility -- this speaks volumes about just how far "forward" America has already traveled.  Full speed ahead?