Obama’s infrastructure argument is easily refuted by what is essentially a controlled social experiment. Roads and schools are the constant. What’s variable is the energy, enterprise, risk-taking, hard work and genius of the individual. It is therefore precisely those individual characteristics, not the communal utilities, that account for the different outcomes.A similar point was made very well by rhhardin in the comments on this blog, back on July 15th, the first day we talked about "you didn't build it":
You're paid for knowing what to do.Later rh added:
That's just as competitive with or without bridges. You have to guess well or you fail.
Take away the reward for knowing what to do, and there's less of it happening, as we see today.
Infrastructure raises the general standard of living, but not need for guessing right. Guessing right is what the private market does, bridges or no bridges.
Government guesses wrong, and wipes out the economy entirely.
A chaplin was captive in a German prisoner of war camp.Krauthammer goes on to say that conservatives as well as liberals support infrastructure. (I note that we disagree about some infrastructure, notably high-speed rail.) The real divergence is over things like "transfer payments and redistributionist taxation, about geometrically expanding entitlements, about tax breaks and subsidies to induce actions pleasing to central planners... free contraceptives for privileged students and welfare without work... endless government handouts...." Here, Krauthammer reminds us of the notorious "Julia" cartoon.
Every month or so red cross packages arrived, with cigarettes, meat, jam, and so forth.
Every month the chaplin would set off trading stuff, letting meat lovers trade cigarettes for more meat and so forth.
Every month he'd return to his bed with the equivalent of two red cross packages, a gain from trading.
Everybody he traded with is better off, and yet he comes out with a profit.
What he knows is the barter price of things, who to go to next, and so forth, to enable all the trades to happen.
Should he turn in a portion of his profit because he couldn't have done it without the red cross?
Why? Everybody is better off already owing to his efforts.
Julia’s world is totally atomized. It contains no friends, no community and, of course, no spouse. Who needs one? She’s married to the provider state.If the Romney campaign can take the actively viral "you didn't build that" meme and cross-pollinate it with the slightly dimmed "Julia" meme and breed a vigorous new small-government/individual responsibility conservatism...
Or to put it slightly differently, the “Life of Julia” represents the paradigmatic Obama political philosophy: citizen as orphan child. For the conservative, providing for every need is the duty that government owes to actual orphan children. Not to supposedly autonomous adults.