Introducing Obama to Capitalism


In his commencement speech at Southern New Hampshire University
this morning, Obama - like most commencement speakers - delivered a
call to public service; unlike many, however, he also warned against
the charms of doing what most college graduates set out to do: Make

"In a few minutes, you can take your diploma, walk off this
stage and go chasing after the big house and the large salary and the
nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you
should buy.

"But I hope you don't. Focusing your life solely on making a
buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And
it will leave you unfulfilled," he told the crowd.

This statement would certainly be true in 18th century European monarchies, in Soviet Russia, in third world Kleptocracies, in Cuba, and in Chavez's Venezuela.  Because making money in these environments is a zero-sum game, and the only way to get rich is to loot it from some poor schmuck who is actually creating the value.

But here in America, we (mostly) have this cool system called capitalism.  In capitalism, all interactions are based on the voluntary self-interest of the parties involved.  This means that one only can "make a buck" by doing something or making something that is of value to another person.  And only by successfully serving the needs of a LOT of people does one get really rich. 

TJIC's conclusion is wonderful:

Far better that they spend their life

  • majoring in political "science"
  • working for a meaningless non-profit
  • trying to register more people to vote so that the negative-sum game of politics can have more credibility
  • helping political partisans redrawn electoral district boundaries in the same negative-sum game of politics
  • being a senator, pushing for more regulations and tax increases

That, clearly, is a fulfilling life.

Let the suckers create value.

The best and brightest should just steal it, and move it around
(while taking some portion of it for themselves, and destroying another
portion of it).

Beware of people who try to demonstrate how much they "care" using other peoples' money.


  1. Knox:

    Amen, brother!

  2. Max Lybbert:

    "Association" is not listed in the Constitution, but the "right to peaceably assemble" is in the First Amendment, and I don't think that's limited to political marches and boycotts.

  3. David Kendall:


    There is a division of labor in which people not only do different jobs, but some people live from the work of others by merely owning the means of production. The latter model is how nearly all wealth is generated under "American" capitalism. More than one-trillion-dollars per year is transferred from the production and consumption of "American" workers to less than one-percent of the "American" population, who don't work at all.

    Still don't understand? You will.

    Meanwhile, Max is correct. Any form of "economic withdrawal" will do, as long as it is 1) widely supported and 2) backed by a viable alternative. Since most of the crap consumed in the United States is completely unnecessary, "alternatives" shouldn't present much of a problem. Getting the attention and support of irrationally obedient "Americans" might be a bigger chore.

    But what reason can't teach, pain most certainly will.

  4. Jody:

    But what reason can't teach, pain most certainly will.

    A philiosophy endorsed by Marxists everywhere.

  5. Sol:

    Wow, David. I'd say that was some cutting edge 19th century economic thought you want to apply to the 21st century -- but honestly, it was pretty lousy economics even back then.

    It might have seemed vaguely plausible in 1950, when everyone around here worked for the auto companies, which made money like they were minting it. But this is 2007, and the auto companies can't make money to save their lives. Meanwhile there are lots more people like me around -- self-employed, making a nice living, creating wealth out of nothing every day we work, providing useful tools which in turn help others create wealth out of nothing. It's getting damned hard to produce wealth with a multi-billion dollar factory, but easy to produce it with a thousand dollar computer....

  6. HG:

    Sol, I'd be interested in finding out how you create this money out of nothing. Seems to me you are doing something other people want or need, and they (having money) trade it for your service. Doesn't seem like it came from nowhere to me.

  7. David Kendall:

    How fortunate for you, Sol. "Something for nothing"? I'm impressed. Meanwhile, as HG suggests, the rest of us are forced to work for a living -- and barely that -- under capitalism. Apparently, we're not as "resourceful" as you. "I do apologize for the inconvenience." "I understand your frustration." "One moment, please." "Do you mind if I place you on hold while I transfer you to my supervisor?"

    "Thanks for holding. Sorry for the wait."

    "You want fries with that?"