There were many questionable statements in President Obama's budget speech on April 13. But he does not need to be clear on these matters to win reelection next year. His 2012 campaign strategy seems to rely on stirring enough people who tend to vote with their hearts without bothering to investigate the facts. There are a few things that we did not hear during the president's address. Number one is the fact that since the days of the Revolution, Americans have become so productive that we are able to create and consume 30 times more wealth per person. As a result of the high degree of economic freedom, those living under the "poverty line" enjoy comforts unimaginable by the wealthiest among the Founding Fathers.
During most of its relatively short history, America's central government was spending less than a hundred dollars per person. It was during those times-when citizens expected little else from their government above and beyond protecting them from domestic thugs and foreign enemies-that the United States became an economic superpower, a shining city upon a hill attracting millions of immigrants from all over the world with its freedoms and opportunities. And it was only after federal spending started growing at supersonic speed during the last 80 years that we saw an explosion of myriad social problems.
In his speech, the president did tell us that most of the spending does not create infrastructure, does not increase our stock of human capital through educating our children, does not finance cutting-edge research, does not keep our food safe, and does not ensure a clean environment. What it does is shift funds from Peter's pocket to Paul's hand. The part that Obama does not want you to consider is that Paul is often wealthier than Peter.
Our safety nets are designed to catch mostly well-to-do people such as middle-class retirees whose combined accumulated private assets are worth more than our national debt (and who even own some of it). Implying that Americans can only be charitable under duress and that cutting entitlements is equivalent to letting our elderly parents starve or die like wild animals in the absence government-funded medical care is nothing more than filthy propaganda. America deserves better leadership.