Guest Editorial: Craig Cantoni
Obama to graduating students: Commence to damage the country

By Craig Cantoni | May 27, 2009

It was sophistic, fatuous, platitudinous, inane, hypocritical, and frightening. Yet it was met with thunderous applause and cheers by the huge crowd. It instantly brought to mind the 1930s newsreels of starry-eyed German youth with their individuality and independent thinking discarded and with their shovels at the ready to follow the leader in service to the collective.

What was it? It was Barack Obama’s commencement address two days ago at Arizona State University, which is 20 minutes from my home. It disturbed me so much I haven’t been able to sleep soundly for the last two nights.

The crowd had stood in 100-degree heat under a blazing sun for hours to get into ASU’s packed football stadium to hear their leader tell them to think for themselves, to follow their dreams, and to pursue the good of the collective instead of money and self-interest.
Think for themselves? What a joke! What irony! Thinking for themselves is not standing nose to tail like castrated cattle in a chute at a meatpacking plant to hear a narcissistic politician speak about remaking the world into his image. If they had been independent thinkers, the stadium would have been empty and the world would have been safer for individual liberty. It would have been safer because the simple act of not showing up to hear a politician speak, whatever his political stripes and party, would send a message that the people are in control and, like cats, not easily herded to do the bidding of the state.
There was nothing wrong with the leader’s message about community service and living for more than the almighty dollar. In fact, my wife and I have raised our kid to be frugal, non-materialistic, and to do volunteer work for private charities, meaning charities that are not joined at the hip with the government in expropriating funding from taxpayers.

There was a lot wrong, however, with the leader’s implicit message that community and government service should be the raison d’etre for getting an education, and that such work is somehow superior to working for a for-profit company.

The first thing that was wrong was the leader’s awful hypocrisy. He is the same guy who had used his community organizing experience to launch a lucrative career, who has made millions from his books, who had used his political connections to get a $300,000 public relations “job” for his wife, who had bought an expensive house in Chicago through a shady real estate deal, and who now lives like royalty in the White House, surrounded by servants, with fleets of limousines and a 747 at his disposal.

This is reminiscent of a certain German leader who lectured about the virtues and characteristics of an ideal German citizen while being anything but the ideal himself.
Worse, if taken seriously, the leader’s message to the graduates of following their dream and working for non-profits will cause irreparable harm to the country and to the graduates. That’s because the only way for the country and the graduates to pay off the staggering deficits and unfunded liabilities of the government is to work harder than Americans have ever worked before, in order to generate the wealth, savings, and investment capital needed to grow the economy without continuing to borrow money from the Chinese, who are rightfully skittish about loaning us more money. This means that instead of dreaming, the graduates will have to outwork the Chinese.

The graduates are inheriting debt and unfunded liabilities of $60-$90 trillion, mostly for entitlements, depending on which actuarial assumptions are used. Due to declining birth rates and an ageing population, every two graduates will have to support one retiree over their working lives. When Social Security was enacted, the ratio was 40 to 1.

It is ludicrous to think these debts and the leader’s grandiose new spending plans and energy taxes can be funded by working for a non-profits or fantasizing about green energy.
Unfortunately, we have a ludicrous leader. It’s even more unfortunate that college graduates aren’t smart enough to realize it.