Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Kind of Freedom?

Obama to award Medal of Freedom to 15, including investor Buffett ... President Obama will award the Medal of Freedom to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, one of 15 recipients who will be given the country's highest civilian honor, the White House said ... Among the other Medal of Freedom recipients will be former president George H.W. Bush; German Chancellor Angela Merkel ... poet Maya Angelou ... and labor chief John Sweeney. – Washington Post

Dominant Social Theme: The US government is at again, honoring the VIPs that mean the most to the American people.

Free-Market Analysis: We are reminded of a certain book when we read who is getting freedom medals from Barack Obama; but more on that at the end of this article. Warren Buffet is a kind of Keynesian socialist in our humble view...

Start with Buffet. Here is a man who constantly campaigns for increased taxes to be placed on US citizens, identifies himself as a Democrat and is worth something like US$50 billion. He poses as an investor, but really he makes "investments" in businesses that have hidden economic advantages, usually via regulatory loopholes. Of course Buffet may seem free-market oriented in the sense that he has made a fabulous fortune in the "investment game" – but when one examines his criteria for picking companies, it becomes obvious that one of them is mercantilism.

This means that Buffet values companies that in some way have developed access to the US government at state or federal levels and can pull levers of power available to no one else. Buffet is thus not investing in companies that necessarily have a better widget. He is putting his money into companies that are interacting most efficiently with government. He is not in his investing making a principled stand for entrepreneurialism or free markets but seeks out firms that have best exploited the current socialist and leveling environment of the US. It is difficult to reconcile this investment philosophy with freedom...

Conclusion: We started out this article by writing that the distribution of freedom medals to people who, at least in some cases, do not seem interested in the slightest in encouraging freedom reminded us of a certain book. Here is a quote from it. It is very famous and you should be able to figure it out quickly. As follows:

It was as though the world had turned upside-down ... Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering.

"My sight is failing," she said finally. "Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?"

For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:


read the essay

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