Thursday, February 19, 2009

The consequence free era

Excerpts from President Obama's inaugural address:
Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.

...Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.

...That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood...Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.
Honesty and hard work. Courage and fair play. Hard choices. These are the things that Obama spoke of and these are the things that I applauded at the conclusion of his speech. But how can they be reconciled with what has transpired over the past month?

A stimulus bill was passed that demanded nothing in the way of courage or hard choices. It was simply a spending spree for items on the Democratic wish list. It demanded all the courage of setting aside your maxed-out credit card and applying for a new one.

Now the President is set to pass housing legislation that punishes those of us who were prudent in our collective decisions not to buy that which we could not afford. This is fair play? This is what passes for honesty and hard work?

As I have written before, we are now living in a consequence free era in which the guiding paradigm is that no one should suffer for their actions. If you're a bank that invested poorly you get a bailout. If you are an individual that wanted to buy a house because everyone was else was getting rich doing it you get a bailout. The only people that aren't getting a helping hand from the government are those among us who chose wisely, we are the ones footing the bill.

We are subsidizing stupidity and greed, and when you subsidize something you tend to get more of it. This does not bode well at all, either on moral or practical grounds.

Update: James Pethokoukis calls it "savior-based economics."

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