Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Never live for the sake of another man

Over at National Review's The Corner, Jonah Goldberg's critique of the Obama inauguration speech is strange ---

the line that grated on me most came from the bit about service and sacrifice. He said:

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

No, “they” didn’t. Slaves certainly didn’t endure the lash of the of the whip out of a sense of service and sacrifice for us. That is one of the reasons slavery is so evil; it isn't voluntary. Suffice it to say that if that line had come out of a different man’s mouth it would not be nearly so well-received. Nor did those immigrants make their sacrifices for “us.” They made them for themselves, for their own pursuit of happiness, for their families.

This thinking allows no room for the possibility that people act for the benefit (or indeed the preservation) of the next generation. Everyone is just out for themselves, even the slaves. George Bush's fiscal policy -- with its massive debt dump onto future generations -- makes a lot of sense from that perspective.

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