Boy Is This Election Is Going to Suck

It is nothing new for politicians and the powerful to despise commerce and "traders."  In Medieval society, and continuing in Europe right up into the 19th century, the ruling elite scorned careers that involved actual productive effort.  If you were actually producing something, rather than indolently feeding yourself off the work of the masses, you were not a "gentleman."

It appears that this attitude is coming back in vogue, most notably from the presidential candidates of both parties.  From David Boaz in the WSJ:

Sen. Obama told the students that "our individual
salvation depends on collective salvation." He disparaged students who
want to "take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after
the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our
money culture says you should buy."

The people Mr. Obama is sneering at are the ones who
built America "“ the traders and entrepreneurs and manufacturers who
gave us railroads and airplanes, housing and appliances, steam engines,
electricity, telephones, computers and Starbucks. Ignored here is the
work most Americans do, the work that gives us food, clothing, shelter
and increasing comfort. It's an attitude you would expect from a
Democrat.

Or this year's Republican nominee. John McCain also
denounces "self-indulgence" and insists that Americans serve "a
national purpose that is greater than our individual interests." During
a Republican debate at the Reagan Library on May 3, 2007, Sen. McCain
derided Mitt Romney's leadership ability, saying, "I led . . . out of
patriotism, not for profit." Challenged on his statement, Mr. McCain
elaborated that Mr. Romney "managed companies, and he bought, and he
sold, and sometimes people lost their jobs. That's the nature of that
business." He could have been channeling Barack Obama.

Mr. Boaz mentions the hypocrisy of Obama having a million dollar house and being famous for his beautiful suits, and then telling graduates not to aspire for the same things.  But a bigger hypocrisy, or perhaps contradiction, is the fact that the candidates must know that the world won't function if everyone were to take their advice.  While bashing the productive, each relies on the productive to fund his plans.  While urging everyone to be parasites, they must know that some must ignore their advice to become the productive hosts on which the parasites feed.

But hypocrisy is not the biggest issue. The real issue
is that Messrs. Obama and McCain are telling us Americans that our
normal lives are not good enough, that pursuing our own happiness is
"self-indulgence," that building a business is "chasing after our money
culture," that working to provide a better life for our families is a
"narrow concern."

They're wrong. Every human life counts. Your life
counts. You have a right to live it as you choose, to follow your
bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction in accomplishment. And if
you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are
led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of
others.

  • Zach

    "Sen. Obama told the students that "our individual salvation depends on collective salvation." He disparaged students who want to "take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy.""

    Not that I had any inclination to vote for Obama before, but, seriously, Barack, go fuck yourself.

    What really puzzles me are my parents. They've watched me do exactly what Obama is railing against, and are as proud of me as you would expect any parents to be. And yet, they're both thrilled to be voting for him.

  • Scott Wiggins

    Zach,

    I am equally amazed at upper middle class voters I see clamoring for Obama. I just don't get it...Do they really want to pay more taxes??? I think the roughly three months of my work each year that goes to pay the government is quite enough, and what do we really get for it in return? More taxes, more spending, failed schools, a high-school dropout rate that is both incredible and alarming. I mean honestly if public schools were a business, they would have closed there doors twenty five years ago. And the size of government is a ticking timebomb in itself and I don't mean anything personal with regard to public employees but...Think of the taxes required to pay generous public pensions and healthcare for life, even as these government employees retire before the average American. It is truly astounding to me that people want more of the same. It looks they will get it. If not through Obama, through Congress and State and local governments. The people seem to want more government and that is all the politicians need to hear...

  • Solar Lad

    Obama said don't "chase only after the big house and the nice suits..."

    People who do things only for the money may or MAY NOT be productive. During the run-up of the sub-prime loan & real estate bubble, there were a lot of people who got well-paid to shuffle money and papers. What's productive about putting together and selling a package of mortgage loans that blow up ONE YEAR later ????

    Both candidates are simply doing the "ask not what your country can do for you/thousand points of light" bit. Taking it to the illogical extreme is to take it FAR too seriously.

    As for higher taxes, that's coming no matter who is elected this Nov. Demographics and public desires for services guarantee it.

    So people who are voting for Obama may simply be recognizing that reality, and like Obama more than McCain. There's nothing foolish about that, and indeed there may be something foolish about believing that electing McCain would mean no new taxes.

  • Solar Lad

    Perhaps I should add that, for me, this election is the non-suckiest of my adult life.

    While I would prefer for Obama to win, I wouldn't mind if McCain were to become President, and in other circumstances I'd be pleased to vote for McCain.

    So, for the first time ever, I can't lose: Both candidates are pleasing to me. Hooray !!

  • Jim Hart

    "I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I shall never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another to live for mine"

    If you want access to Valhalla (i.e. Galts Gulch), you will need to take this pledge first. If you can't, you are a second hander, and a power peddler. JUST LIKE THOSE ASSES running for president!

  • Solar Lad

    And if you can take that pledge, you're merely demonstrating that you belong to no family, tribe, or society. For instance, every enlisted member of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as every elected member of the U.S. Congress, takes a pledge that EXPLICITLY CONTRADICTS that one.

    The mention of Valhalla is ironic, since Valhalla was reserved for those who fought bravely, not for those whose self-interest and desire never to live for another, nor ask another to live for them, led them to choose the better part of valor and run away.

  • http://erudito.livejournal.com/ lorenzo aka erudito

    In Medieval society, and continuing in Europe right up into the 19th century, the ruling elite scorned careers that involved actual productive effort.
    The suggestion that nobles and knights in medieval Europe despised "trade" is pure C19th propaganda. Medieval knights and nobles were practical folk who were interested in anything that made money. They built or licensed mills, bakeries, breweries, taverns, fought over trading privileges, etc.

    The C19th generated a lot of myths about the medieval period (such as horns on viking helmets). The "despised trade" notion is one of them.

    It is true that working in physical labour dropped one out of the elite, but that is a different claim