September 6, 2012 10:01AM

Dragging Us All Down Together

Today POLITICO Arena asks:

 Did Bill Clinton hit a home run for Barack Obama last night?

My response:

The Democrats are counting, as they always have, on widespread economic ignorance. And Bill Clinton captured it perfectly last night when he contrasted the alleged Republican philosophy -- "You're on your own" -- with the Democratic philosophy -- "We’re all in this together.” I say "alleged" because no Republican says or believes what the Democrats claim, whereas both Clinton and Obama have repeatedly said "We're all in this together."

Republicans don't say that because they recognize the fundamental place of cooperation -- whether economic or charitable -- in human affairs, and the role of government in providing "public goods" like national defense, clean air, and infrastructure -- as well as certain "private goods" if voluntary measures prove insufficient. They believe, in short, in a free society.

By contrast, if "we're all in this together" -- and let's be clear, when Democrats say that they aren't talking about voluntary associations but about government programs -- then we're all dependent on government for our retirement, our health care, our education, and on and on. What better example than the Obama campaign's much ridiculed "Life of Julia"? The problem with that vision is that it's a cruel hoax. Wherever it's been tried, including in America, it's failed. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all going broke. And even where our massive public programs hobble on, they're massively inefficient compared to private alternatives. In pursuit of "fairness" -- read, "free goods" -- you can tax the rich only so far. That's the economic ignorance that's underneath the siren song that "we're all in this together."