Sunday, August 31, 2008

Change and Hot Dogs

I must confess something. For about a month I have thought McCain should pick Palin as his running mate. I have thought so since I first saw her picture. She was an attractive young woman. Sexy. Without knowing a thing about her, I thought McCain would have the best chance of winning with Palin at his side.

When McCain stunned me and the world by doing what I thought he should do, I got serious and looked at what the woman actually stands for. The more I learn about her, the less I like her. But why did I want her on the ticket in the first place? Because she is different.

She is not your average boring politician. You see, in the welfare state, a politician learns to operate in a way calculated to anger as few people as possible. This is what all those politicians with that vaunted "experience" do. They become gray middle-of-the-roaders. It is how one gains experience in a welfare state.

Imagine a politician who believed what I believe -- imagine a bona fide radical for capitalism. Someone who wanted to roll back state intervention in the economy past the antitrust laws. Someone who wanted to dismantle the welfare state, including social security. We're talking about an individual rights absolutist.

How long would that politician survive in today's America? Could he win any elections? Could he get any experience? Or would he, thinking politics is the art of the possible, begin trimming his positions and compromising? Before you know it he would end up kind of like Newt Gingrich or Phil Gramm. He might be on the right side of the spectrum, but he would no longer be sneered at as an "extremist" by the likes of Hugh Hewitt.

People are sick of politics as usual. Obama is right that people want change. That is the lesson of this election now. Three of the candidates are different: McCain is a maverick who sticks his thumb in his party's eye; Obama is black; Palin is a woman. Biden is politics as usual, whom it seems that Obama had to go with to allay fears that Obama was too unusual.

The problem is that in looking for the new, people are not looking for new ideas, but new identities. What happens when these new people give us politics as usual?

We need politicians who will be ideological outsiders. People who will risk having Republican propagandists like Hewitt denounce them as extremists.


I keep thinking of this passage from my idol, Ludwig von Mises:

If any of the socialist chiefs had tried to earn his living by selling hot dogs, he would have learned something about the sovereignty of the customers. But they were professional revolutionaries and their only job was to kindle civil war. Lenin's ideal was to build a nation's production effort according to the model of the post office, an outfit that does not depend on the consumers, because its deficits are covered by compulsory collection of taxes. "The whole of society," he said, was to "become one office and one factory."

If only Lenin had sold hot dogs. What a great thought.

McCain, Obama and Biden have never sold a single goddamn hot dog among the three of them. They are creatures of the state. They don't understand how entrepreneurs must work their rears off to please people -- to make people's lives better -- and earn a profit. They don't understand that the man who makes a profit is the one who truly serves people.

Worse, Obama and McCain think selling hot dogs is morally inferior. If you sell hot dogs, you are merely pursuing your ignoble self-interest. But if they take the money you make selling hot dogs and redistribute it to the poor, then they are moral.

Sarah Palin has sold a few hot dogs in her time. By that I mean that she has worked in the private sector. She did not start out intending work for the state. To me that makes her superior to the little men who preen about a lifetime of "service." The only thing they serve is their power-lust.

UPDATE: George Reisman compares Palin's "windfall profits" tax scheme to Obama's.

Obama and Palin are both obviously ignorant of economics. John McCain, who picked Palin to be his running mate, has admitted his own lack of knowledge of the subject. Knowing little or nothing of the subject himself, he could not be expected to realize that Palin knew nothing of the subject either. An examination of the record of Obama’s running mate, Senator Joseph Biden, would probably turn up a more extensive record of comparable ignorance of economics, given his greater number of years in public life as a leading spokesman for the Democratic Party.


Joseph Kellard said...

I know little about politics in Alaska, and I think that may be why Palin can afford to be "different." Few Americans know much about politics in Alaska, in the way that those who don’t like in Chicago, California, Florida, Louisiana, ect. know about politics in those areas. Most of what I know about Alaska I learned form watching “Northern Exposure”—that’s no joke.

Since she's out of the national spotlight, Palin, and other Alaskan politicians, can probably afford to at least a little "different." Now that she's smack in the middle of the national spotlight, let's see how she holds up. She needs to get votes from a much, much wider constituency now. And we all know how in these pragmatic times that can turn a politician into a prostitute, figuratively speaking of course.

Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

I think most males over 60 would rather exchange a pocket full of cash and a good nap for votes, instead of sex from a 40+ y/o; so, you may have to reconsider the "figuratively speaking" portion of your comments. :-)

(Now, where did I put that other pillow....)

madmax said...

Here's another take on Palin:

"One can at least grasp the moral indifference with which a fundamentalist can force a single young mother to abandon her goals and dreams and condemn her and her child to poverty. But what can we say about a parent that chooses a life of suffering upon their child? If we are morally outraged by child rapists, how should we judge a parent who chooses a lifetime of suffering on their own child?"

Joseph Kellard said...

My sister -- who like me was raised to be a liberal Democrat, but unlike me generally remains one -- finds Palin and her life story very appealing. While she never would vote for a Republican, she finds Obama to be a fraud, an American-hating empty suit, and actually has considered, ever so hesitantly, voting for Palin-McCain (note the order).

Sept. 11 changed my sister -- in fact, it was with the bombing of the USS Cole that her liberal worldview really began to change. I don’t think that would have been possible without my (Objectivist) influence for several years before these events. I’ve at least got my sister to recognize what Obama is and isn’t. While I’m not voting for either Obama or McCain, I’m glad to see that I’ve influenced her enough to at least get her to consider other options, rather that voting Democrat no matter who is on the ticket.

Myrhaf said...

Madmax, thanks for the link.

Joseph, you've made more progress than I have. My Mother and my sister, both liberal Democrats and members of a teachers union, cannot tolerate Palin. They don't like Obama -- for what seems to me the superficial reason that his "body language" around women is condescending -- but they will vote for him.

Joseph Kellard said...

His body language around women is condescending?! Jesus, you just never know why people will chose to like or dislike someone. This is why I try to ask people, even when the pay me a compliment, to tell me *why* they hold their views--that is, if they matter enough to me to care.

amber said...

Dearest Myrhaf,

You should trust most women when it comes to reading a man's body language. Usually, it tells a girl all she needs to know about his take on "individual rights".


Mike N said...

Joseph Kellard:

" for Palin-McCain (note the order)."

I was thinking the same thing when I heard her acceptance speech. I thought this may be the first time in our history that some people will go to the polls to vote for--vice president.

Myrhaf said...

Amber, I'll keep your advice in mind. I will say that even my sister and Mother don't make too much of Obama's body language, as they intend to vote for him. In the end ideas and party are more important to them.