This week it was announced that there will be no cost of living increase for social security recipients since inflation is essentially flat. Immediately, Obama announced that he was proposing a $250 "stimulus" check for social security recipients.
It's easy to assign less than honorable motives to this action. 1. He could be motivated by fear, worried that pissing off the elderly will cost him at the polls. 2. He could be motivated by a desire to score political points: He can propose an increase weeks before an election. Democrats will no doubt support the proposal across the board. Republicans must either say they oppose it, in which case they will be accused of being cold-blooded grandma haters, or for it, in which case they will be exposed as hypocrites in their claims to care about balancing the budget.
My gut instinct, though, is that his motives are probably more noble. Men don't go through the extraordinary physical, mental, and emotional effort of becoming president unless they really believe that they can make the world a better place through their vision and leadership. They may engage in a lot of political gamesmanship and cut a lot of deals that enrich their friends and allies along the way, but at the end of the day, what underlies all these efforts is a genuine desire to do good.
I think Obama passed his health care plan motivated not because it was a giant power grab, but because he's met people screwed by the present system and wants to help them. I think George Bush invaded two countries not because he was thirsty for oil, but because he wanted to make the world a safer place.
Once you set upon the path of doing good, however, it's hard to stop. When people point out that your good actions may be causing harm, it's easy to brand them hard-hearted, or even evil. If you oppose Bush's wars because they were disproportionate responses to the threat, financially ruinous to the country, or too open-ended, you were labeled as a coddler of terrorists. If you oppose Obama's cap and trade proposals, you are branded as a tool of the oil industry and a cheerleader for poisoning the planet.
The world's problems are bottomless. The demand for government to fix the problems is equally bottomless. There will always be men willing to stand up and say, "I can fix this problem."
Unfortunately, while problems are limitless, resources aren't. Obama is going to give out his $250 stimulus checks with borrowed money. We will pay back this borrowed money with more borrowed money. Bush did the same thing with his wars, or his prescription drug benefits. Whoever is president next will follow the same pattern. Clinton is credited with balancing the budget, but he got lucky in that he failed to pass his health care bill. I suspect things would have worked out quite differently if he'd had the chance to do all the good he wanted to do--and not for the better.
The hard truth is that altruism unrestrained by economics or logic will eventually grow into a monster, devouring wealth and liberty in order to crap out comfort and security. The beast is already loose, chewing up our children's futures with massive debt, devouring the lives of innocent men, women and children with wars that can never come to an end. If we cannot kill the beast, we must at least muzzle it. The $250 stimulus seems like a good test. Do not vote for any candidate that supports it. If both the democrat and the republican in the race are for it, vote libertarian. Good-hearted men will be the ruin of us all. It's time to vote for people with the wisdom and courage to say no.