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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Patriotism and the Common Good

Chrysler announced plans to file for bankruptcy today only four months after receiving $18 billion in bailout funds. The original auto bailout was sold to the public as a way to save us from the inevitable crippling blow to our economy that would lead to millions of lost jobs. The White House must sincerely believe that the American public is stricken with the same form of short-term memory loss they apparently are suffering from since now the bankruptcy is being hailed as giving “a new lease on life” to the overburdened automaker.

Obama blasted a handful of investors and hedge-fund managers for their refusal to accept 29 cents on the dollar for funds they loaned (in good faith) to the giant automaker, calling these private lenders “unpatriotic” for failing to do what was “in the best interest of the American public”. Apparently, the rules that the rest of us live by (such as paying off our financial obligations and honoring contracts we have voluntarily entered into) do not apply to those who have someone in Washington to do their bidding. And now private investors who actually seek just compensation for the billions of dollars loaned to the ailing automaker are vilified as greedy, self-interested rascals. (Of course, those self-interested rascals are teachers, firefighters and policemen who invested their life-savings in company sponsored retirement plans – does this mean that they too are “unpatriotic” for having the desire to squeeze out a few extra pennies on the dollar that Chrysler was contractually obligated to pay back?)

I’m a little queasy about the new definition of patriotism being thrown around by too many politicians lately. The au courant “patriotism” is no longer defined as ones willingness to fight to preserve our liberties and freedoms, but a much more “enlightened” and “civilized” willingness to work for the common good. Such enlightened philosophy coming from men “whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun” is certainly hard to swallow since we rarely see evidence of personal sacrifices made by each of them for the common good. (Rand, Atlas Shrugged) Sacrificing for the common good is reserved for the plebian masses like you and me, since every “good” politician wisely spends his time increasing his personal power and prosperity, he certainly shouldn’t be wasting precious time making personal sacrifices for the good of society like the rest of us.

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