Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Difference between Gingrich's supporters and Obama's

I came up with the idea for this post when reading the daily e-mail from the blog Cafe Hayek. (You can sign up here for a witty and informative take on economic matters.)

One of the contributors to that blog, Don Boudreaux, re-posted an article he wrote back in 2004, titled "Messiah Mongering," in which he warns of worshiping other humans -- be they sports figures, Princess Diana, or politicians. While worshiping someone because they led your team to a championship is not the most productive way to spend your time, thinking too much of a politician -- "gap[ing] at him as if he were something superhuman" -- can lead down a very bad path. Totalitarian governments almost always have a charismatic leader, and even if the result is not a complete tyranny, a leader who is treated as if superhuman can lead to a great loss of liberty.

He mentioned FDR and JFK as two of the politicians most often worshiped. As the article was written just after Barack Obama's introduction to the country, a full two years before he started running for President, Obama's name is not mentioned. But throughout the campaign, many of his supporters, serious and unserious, invoked Jesus' name as well as other references to him being a savior. They felt that with his election, all would be solved by him himself.

When I was reading Boudreaux's article and thinking of the Obama-mania, as Sean Hannity likes to call it, it made me realize how differently I viewed Newt Gingrich -- who I am every bit as committed to seeing elected President as any Obama supporter -- from how, say, this lady viewed Obama.

Contrary to almost every die-hard Obama fan, I do not want Gingrich managing the economy; far, far from it. I realize he -- or any other human, or even an entire agency -- could not possibly know in which technologies to invest in. Only markets, by sending price signals that are free of government interference, can pick which products should be invested in and which should be allowed to die off. I don't want him putting in policies that result in me paying higher prices for, say, sugar because a well-connected family whose main source of income is selling sugar asks for government protection from competitors (that would never happen!). I don't want to pay for more expensive gasoline because "the future is in green jobs." If the future is in green jobs, private money will fund those. (Isn't it curious how liberals claim that businessman are only interested in profit -- willing to sacrifice anything for an extra dollar -- yet the greedy profiteers do not get involved in so many liberal ideas, which we are told are just guaranteed money makers?)

And what is one reason I like Gingrich? He gets it; he has no interested in micro-managing the economy. He knows Hayek's concept of "The Fatal Conceit": "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."

Gingrich puts it differently, calling arrogant those who look at the economy this way: "That they think that one person will somehow look at the entire world market and say, "I know."

He shares my goal of setting up an business environment that -- because of low taxes on income, no tax on savings and investment, a low level of government spending, a strong dollar, and free trade -- will end up creating jobs and prosperity.

What would I want from Gingrich, if not handouts? I would want him -- and his administration, including his court nominees -- to follow the Constitution, and as such, his first priority would be to keep Americans save from foreign and domestic threats. I want him to stand up for the rights that are guaranteed by that Constitution and granted by our Creator.

I want him to protect the unborn, traditional values, and the free market. The surest path to ruin for a country is to waver in the defense of any of those.

Another key difference is how realistic I am about the change Newt could deliver. I would not expect everything all at once, as many progressives did with the current President. To use a football analogy, conservatives are at our own 5 yard line. I don't have the expectation that Newt will throw a Hail Mary and complete a 95-yard touchdown on 1st down. I expect him to chip away, maybe -- extending the analogy -- getting a few first downs before he has to come out of the game. Then, his backup, be it Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, or someone else, comes in fresh and gets us past the 50 yard line and forces the liberals to defend their own side of the field. Don't force anything, take what you can get.

While I am very enthusiastic about Gingrich and believe he is the best man to save America -- to borrow a phrase from someone -- it is not because I think he has the silver bullet to all our problems. It is because he will not get in the way of the person who comes up with the silver bullet. Or subsidize the equivalent of an aluminum bullet.

Going back to the football analogy, he would make a fine first-string President.

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