False Assumptions of Statism, 2008 version

In June 2004, Hillary Clinton outlined the statist philosophy in a speech to a San Francisco audience when she explained that “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” In 2008, that task has fallen to Michelle Obama. In an appearance in Charlotte yesterday, Mrs. Obama made it just a little more specific (via Instapundit):

Should she become first lady, she said she’d focus on family issues.

“If we don’t wake up as a nation with a new kind of leadership…for how we want this country to work, then we won’t get universal health care,” she said.

“The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”

This statement should make clear exactly what either Democrat represents. Both Hillary and Obama want to extend the power of the federal government over choices that have nothing to do with their Constitutional mandate. Both want to spend more money and expand systems that already fail to operate efficiently and deliver on their promises. And both want Americans across the board to give up more of their income to pay for bigger bureaucracies.

Neither of these candidates are moderate, center-left politicians. They’re both statists, and they both make the same basic mistake of all statists.

First, it assumes a “pie” of static proportions. That’s only true in statist systems. In a free-market economy, real expansion of wealth can and does occur. The best way to lift the standard of living across all economic strata comes from private enterprise and not public bureaucracies. The latter saps investment capital by rerouting funds from the markets which generate wealth into government, which not only consumes wealth but offers unresponsive and inefficient services in return. Those services kill competition in those industries, since the government supplies the services for “free” — even though the actual costs skyrocket through massive inefficiencies.

Want an example? Look at the VA. For that matter, look at the education system Mrs. Obama wants to expand. We have increased federal spending on education by 58% since 2000 (after inflation), and no one in their right mind would argue that education has improved 5.8%, let alone 58%. We’ve increased VA spending by 59%, and few would argue that we have received our money’s worth from that.

In fact, American families will pay $4,000 more per household in taxes this year than in 2003, the highest level since the last year of the Clinton administration. We have already given more of the “pie” for government expansion. If that was the solution, then the Democrats should be arguing for a continuation of the Bush administration, which has expanded federal spending by 30% after inflation in just seven years.

We’re paying more and getting less. Obviously, the statist model doesn’t work very well — but the Obamas and the Clintons want to convince voters that the solution is even more government confiscation of capital for the purposes of redistributing it even less efficiently. Small wonder, with as little daylight as there is between the two Democrats, that the primary campaign has come down to which candidate is less honest about their intentions.