What I Want

April 6, 2009

In a conversation with a friend over Detroit’s woes, my friend asked “don’t you think we should do something for the people who’ve invested their lives working for the auto companies.  I assumed that by “we” he meant the Federal government and by “something” he meant do whatever it is the government is doing, or something like it, to save America’s auto industry.

I asked, “You want to force everyone to fund your priorities?”  He looked at me like I was crazy.  “I never said that,” he replied.

Didn’t he?  In Applied Economics, Thomas Sowell writes:

Often posterity is invoked, as in this case, where one of the farmers benefiting from [government imposed land use restrictions] was quoted as saying, “I’ve got 10 grandkids and some of them would like to be here someday.  We want to keep farming as long as we can.”   As in many other such cases, what some people want is stated as if it is automatically pre-emptive over what other people want – and as if their posterity’s desires are pre-emptive over the desires of the posterity of other people with different desires and preferences.

This is another example of where good intentions are judged rather than results.  Saying I’m not for the Federal government intervening to help an industry that got itself into trouble is interpreted with wanting the auto workers to starve, which is a mispresentation of my position (see earlier post on that).  Rather,  I want the best for those who lost their jobs and I believe that making sure they get the best is by reinforcing the individual liberty that has generated enormous amounts of prosperity over the past two centuries in this country.  I believe that the more government inolves itself to help these people, the worse off they’ll be.


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