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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Humility or Hubris?

Another presidential election has come and gone, only this time the results are astoundingly and, yes, satisfyingly historic. In light of our racial history and leaving aside political philosophy, I am overjoyed at what Barack Obama’s election means. I cannot put it better than Will Wilkinson did at The Fly Bottle, “It means something profound that a black man was elected to the most visible, high-status position our society offers. The mere fact that Obama won truly does make our society a better place.” I also share Wilkinson’s reservations. In a truly free society, the presidency would not be the most visible high-status position our society offers. That designation would be reserved for a variety of private-sector roles. Unfortunately, however, the presidency does have that status today, and Obama’s election must be appreciated from that perspective. Relatedly, I am uneasy about, though understanding of, the public displays that followed John McCain’s concession Tuesday night. Again, Wilkinson: “[F]rankly, I hope never to see again streets thronging with people chanting the victorious leader’s name.” Amen.

President-elect Obama’s many supporters and well-wishers have great confidence in his ability to solve the economic problems that vex American society. That ability is said to lie in his cool judgment, his good intentions, and his eloquence. Let us grant that he possesses all three. Valuable as they are, they will be useless if he attempts to solve our economic problems directly by an exercise of power. That’s because there is something he does not have -- something no man or woman can have: the power to repeal the laws of economics.

The rest of this week's TGIF, "Humility or Hubris?" is at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.


Robert Virasin said...

I feel a bit differently. Maybe growing up in the Mid-1990s in Los Angeles with a diverse mixture of different people, I've never felt any racial tension. I'm happy that we have a Black President but I think that it is just a natural progression of our society.

My primary concern is with American Society. With the economic downturn, it seems that American society has lost its belief in itself and has turned to the Federal Government help them.

Obama comes into the Presidency with fuzzy promises for a new national imperative for Government to save them.

Maybe Obama is a transformational figure.

After 8 years of government growth and mismanagement by G.W. Bush, we are seeing a shift in society.

Maybe G.W. Bush is is the Hoover of our time...

Will Obama be the next FDR bringing forth a New Deal?

peter said...

Interesting blog.

Steve Hogan said...

What would be even more profound than a black man as president would be ANYONE as president that understood and respected individual liberty. Obama, I fear, only respects power and the ability to force others to do his bidding. The results are going to be disastrous.

Jodi said...

Enlightening article! Are there any like minded economists that you know of advising the incoming administration? And, no I am not smoking anything.