Column on Electing A Problems Solver

Should We Elect a Problem Solver?
Tibor R. Machan
In his long interview with Chris Wallace on Fox TV on Sunday April 27,
Senator Obama asserted that “The American people, what they are looking
for is somebody who can solve their problems.”
Wow, have I been wrong all these decades. I thought what the American
people were looking for is someone who will protect the Constitution of
the United States. Isn’t that what the president swears to when he or she
is inaugurated? Does that entail that the president is to set about
solving our problems?
I have a bunch of problems. I buy too much stuff, so much at times I
haven’t enough funds to cover it. I also have periodic sinus infections.
And my neighbor has a huge weed–looks like a regular tree–that blocks
the view from my living room and he will not cut it down. And I also have
nagging sciatica, as well as a numb left thigh, both of which make it
difficult for me to get about.
Oh, but there is more. Sometimes it gets very hot up here in the canyon,
where I live, and not even air conditioning cools down my place and I
detest working while I am sweating like a horse. And there is no one I
know hereabouts with whom I can have an occasional beer or go out to the
movies. It’s a bummer all around–so many problems (I’ve only just started
the list).
So, I take it, if and when Senator Obama gets to be president–or indeed,
anyone else–my problems will be solved for me. Hurrah! I can’t wait. But
then I really don’t believe he or anyone else can solve my or anyone
else’s problems, actually, since he has to solve his own problems and he
doesn’t know me and he lacks the skills needed to even begin to help
Americans solve theirs.
Furthermore, if some of the work done by various political economists, for
which one has received the Nobel Prize, tells it like it is, politicians
and bureaucrats are not really even inclined to try to solve our problems,
no matter what they profess. They have agendas of their own, or so public
choice theory tells us, which will occupy their attention quite fully
throughout their tenure. And that makes very good sense–these folks are
much more familiar with their own problems, with what concerns them, with
what they would like to accomplish, than with the problems of the American
You see, public choice theory teaches us that just as anyone else in
society, so politicians and bureaucrats are pretty much bent on furthering
the goals they have rather than other people’s goals. Those goals may well
be fine and dandy, don’t get me wrong. But when politicians and
bureaucrats attend to them, they do so with funds and resources that are
not their own and so the ordinary restraints of prudence that tend to
guide private citizens and groups of them are easily overlooked. In short,
these government folks are spending other people’s money to further the
goals they favor and know enough about to help to achieve. So they are
naturally more likely to solve their own problems, further their own aims,
than those of the American people, and also to overspend in the process.
Then there is the additional problem that the American people are a highly
diverse and immense lot, with a great many different problems they would
like solved. They are, therefore, less likely to be helped out by people
far removed from their lives, living in Washington, DC, for example, or
some state capitol. And when the American people do receive some help from
these folks, it is usually some special group that benefits, not at all
the entire public. These special groups–often called special
interests–may be helped out by politicians and bureaucrats so as to
secure their political support but not because of brotherly love,
fraternity, or some other fellow feeling. And the help is very likely to
stop once the political payoffs have been delivered.
What Senator Obama and all the others aspiring to political office should
learn is that the American Founders had a very good idea when they
identified the function of government to be the protection of our
unalienable rights, nothing more. This is the way to restrain politicians
to working on what they have at least a chance to succeed at. That is the
wisdom in the idea of limited government. But this wisdom doesn’t even
come up any longer during election campaigning, not from the media, not
from the candidates, and, sadly, not even much from the American people.

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40 Responses to Column on Electing A Problems Solver

  1. Unknown says:

    Obama cannot solve even his own problems, he didn\’t have enough wisdom
    to get himself away from someone like Jeremiah Wright. Even, Oprah who
    is merely just a talk show host, knew enough to get away from this man
    long ago. Had Obama been just you\’re average Joe it would be a
    different story. But, as a Presidential Candidate, even as a Senator,
    he is Elected to represent ALL people over every race, who put their
    faith in him and he did not have enough foresight to see that
    associating with someone like Wright, who has spoken words against,
    America, White\’s, Isreal, Jews, Italians, etc., would not only be
    offensive, to many of the people who voted for, or may have voted for
    him, but would also be harmful to his own political career. The same
    goes for many of his other associates that seem to be coming out of the
    woodwork in recent days, like William Ayers and his Wife.
    From there, let\’s move past the issue with some of his associates and
    look to, for a moment, his claims of being the Candidate for Change,
    what evidence, if any, has he shown us, that he brings change? So far,
    in his campaign, I see no evidence, in fact, his recent problems with
    Wright, first he cannot disown him, then he can disown him, seems to
    show that he is in fact, as Wright recently put it, A politician, that
    says what he has to say in order to get elected. How about Chicago,
    maybe we can look there and see if there\’s any evidence of change.
    Seems he never really did anything towards helping bring a change in
    the widely known corruption of Chicago\’s politics, instead it appears,
    he seems to have embraced those who were part of the corruption,
    instead of supporting anyone who sought to help bring change. And let\’s
    not forget his dear friend, Tony Rezko, who helped Obama purchase his
    home, or should I say Mansion. While Obama, in turn, turned his back to
    the fact that his pal was a slum-lord and that just minutes away from
    his own home, people of Chicago, his people, were having to live in
    Rezko\’s slums, without things like heat.
    No, I think Obama, from looking at just some of the issues he has of
    his own, would be better off to go fix his own problems before offering
    or even implying that, he could fix Americas.

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