Virtual Voices

Reflections on the State of the Union 2012

Economy

This year's State of the Union address was full of reheated slogans from previous media appearances. It was not surprising that the event had attracted significantly less interest than last year's speech. "You can't fool all of the people all of the time," said Abraham Lincoln, and it seems that an increasing number of the American people are realizing that the president is exhausted as a visionary and a leader.

But the "same old, same old" populist rhetoric of Barack Obama is still potent enough to confuse the voter and cause long-term damage to the cause of liberty, which makes it necessary to expose three main character flaws in our commander in chief.

This week I will start with his primitive mercantilist interpretation of global trade and leave his dangerous preoccupation with domestic central planning and his unfruitful Marxist fixation on purely material issues for another commentary.

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In his speech before Congress, Obama was both grieving over an "economy weakened by outsourcing" and jubilant that "over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires." Surge in Chinese tires? Goodness gracious, it sounds like a terrorist plot that demands a counter surge by our economic special ops. And it avoids the real question, asked by Milton Friedman: "Why should there be laws that in effect prevent you and me from buying in the cheapest market?"

The president was boasting how "soon there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea." I wonder how many of you voted for the guy expecting he would see it as a national priority to improve the well being of foreign consumers. To set as a goal "doubling U.S. exports over five years" (what's with socialists and five-year plans?) means that we will send twice as much of our real wealth away to be enjoyed by foreigners, such as the soccer moms in Seoul driving minivans "imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago."

Is trade a militaristic affair conducted between national governments or voluntary exchange between free individuals? Obama pledged not to "cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany." He wants to subsidize research in "clean energy in partnership with the private sector," funds most likely to be handed out to close friends and campaign benefactors. Remember Solyndra? Playing the "Trump" card, our president announced "the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China." Unfair? I think we have heard this one before. Friedman warned: "When anyone complains about unfair competition, consumers beware. That is really a cry for special privilege always at the expense of the consumer."

Alex Tokarev
Alex Tokarev

Alex is the chair of the Department of Business at Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill., and teaches at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. The native of communist Bulgaria fanatically supports the Bulgarian soccer team, Levski.

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