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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Remember when the biggest televised event of the year was the Super Bowl? How about the World Series? Or even the premiere of Survivor?

Gone are such simple days. On Tuesday, millions of Americans watched our country's newest entertainment spectacular - the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The highlight and center of the spectacle was the much -awaited inaugural address in which Obama once again proved his place among our generation's finest orators.

On the surface, his speech was fluffy and hopeful - a cliché ode to the heritage and diversity of America. Fluff is typical of inaugural addresses, and his speech writers did a fantastic job with their rhetoric. So far, so good.

Then came the "zingers" - those unobtrusive little hints of socialism that sneak their way into an otherwise mainstream and inoffensive speech. Saying that "the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous," is basically implying that the free market failed some people, so we need to more equitably redistribute its spoils. Zing!

"The success of our economy has always depended … on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart … because it is the surest route to our common good." In other words, it's more important to have an equal distribution of wealth than to encourage entrepreneurship and production. It's OK for big government to step in and make sure that happens. Zing!

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified." In other words, government has an obligation (that is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution) to provide arbitrary entitlements to people no matter what the cost to the taxpayer. Zing!

So yes, the speech sounded hopeful and nonpartisan. But it reaffirmed what we have known from the start - Obama believes all of our nation's problems can be solved by big government. In his mind, it is a gross injustice for some people to be much richer than others, and it is the government's job to correct this injustice. And the free market - the source of this injustice - must be managed and regulated to prevent it.

Obama needs to understand that the market, like justice, is blind. Some people gain from the market, others lose. But a gain is not necessarily a loss. One person's gain means more spending, more flowing money and more jobs. America's historical support for the free market has made it the richest country in the world.

The market is not looking good right now, but it will fix itself in time as it always has. Until then, beware of laws that evoke socialism in the name of equality or security.

Our constitution guarantees none of these. It only guarantees freedom, a virtue which struggles in the face of big government and unquestioned pandemics of nationalistic fervor.

In this day and age, that pandemic is called "change."

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Johnathan Lott is a political science and economics sophomore. His column appears on Thursdays.

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