Who gets to play God?
Now, what we’re doing, I want to be clear, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.
What does “success fairly earned” or “enough money” mean?
Who defines “success fairly earned” or “enough money”?
What if different people define “success fairly earned” or “enough money” differently?
Who defines the consequences of having more than “enough money”?
Who enforces such consequences?
If anyone thinks the definition or consequences of “enough money” is unjust, to whom do they turn for relief?
In other words, who gets to play God?
Any way you cut it, implementing policies consistent with Obama’s words will require coercive actions that diminish liberty. There seems to be a certain amnesia about the coercive nature of government. Of course, it might be reasonable to say there is no amnesia for people who never recognize coercion because they have always sought power more than they have loved liberty.
On a more practical level, Nobel Laureate Hayek wrote about the impossibility of efforts to centrally plan such “solutions” in the first place in his seminal 1945 paper entitled The Use of Knowledge in Society. Glenn Reynolds referenced the paper in a recent editorial:
…The United States Code – containing federal statutory law – is more than 50,000 pages long and comprises 40 volumes. The Code of Federal Regulations, which indexes administrative rules, is 161,117 pages long and composes 226 volumes.
No one on Earth understands them all, and the potential interaction among all the different rules would choke a supercomputer. This means, of course, that when Congress changes the law, it not only can’t be aware of all the real-world complications it’s producing, it can’t even understand the legal and regulatory implications of what it’s doing.
There’s good news and bad news in that. The bad news is obvious: We’re governed not just by people who do screw up constantly, but by people who can’t help but screw up constantly. So long as the government is this large and overweening, no amount of effort at securing smarter people or “better” rules will do any good: Incompetence is built into the system.
The good news is less obvious, but just as important: While we rightly fear a too-powerful government, this regulatory knowledge problem will ensure plenty of public stumbles and embarrassments, helping to remind people that those who seek to rule us really don’t know what they’re doing.
If that doesn’t encourage skepticism toward big government, it’s hard to imagine what will.
Michelle Malkin: Barack Obama, America’s Selective Salary Policeman – “At some point, you have made enough money” is not a maxim that Obama’s team of rich CEO’s and well-paid bureaucrats has ever observed.
J.P. Freire: Obama made $5m in 2009 and tells us we’ve made enough?
Kyle Wingfield: Exactly who ‘makes enough money’ in Obama’s eyes?
…”I want to be clear, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But part of the American way is you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or you’re providing a good service. We don’t want people to stop fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow the economy.”
The second sentence is the one that defines “fairly earned” for Obama. The man who as a candidate spoke of “spreading the wealth around” has found a matter he considers within his pay grade: other people’s pay.