Who REALLY Won the Debate?

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

The overnight polls indicate that Gov. Mitt Romney trounced President Obama in the first presidential debate last night in Denver: 46% gave the victory to Romney, while only 22% offered their nod to Obama.

I’m sure Romney will get a bounce in the national polls and in the swing states this week. Intrade, the political futures market, showed Romney picking up 10 points — his chance of winning the presidency rose to 33%. Obama’s chances fell from 76% to 65%. But Obama still is the odds on favorite to get re-elected.

Who really won? I think the actual victor was Big Government. Obama has no plans to cut government spending, or reduce taxes further, while trillion-dollar deficits and more regulation (ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank) are a mark of his administration.

Obama even said that “Social Security is structurally sound.” That’s appalling, given the trillion-dollar entitlement deficits building up. It needs to be fixed right away, before hyperinflation ensues, to pay for the unfunded liabilities (it’s already losing $53 billion a year from the Social Security Trust Fund).

He even said he would not reduce at all the spending by the Department of Education. How many teachers does the Department of Education have? None. The federal agency’s employees are all bureaucrats that tell local educators what to do. At Mercy College, where my wife teaches, staffers constantly are dealing with stupid mandates from the Department of Education.

In sum, Big Government won.

For investors, Romney is clearly the better candidate because he will at least preserve the hard-fought tax breaks investors deserve on capital gains and dividends.

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You Blew It!


You have no moral obligations toward others.” — Yaron Brook

“No one owes you anything.” — Harry Browne

Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute, has written a book making his case for Objectivism and the Ayn Rand philosophy. “Free-Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government.” His book includes a lot of great arguments by the statists against capitalism. I recommend that you buy a copy and read it carefully.

But his book contains one argument that is going to be hard to sell. He argues that in order to win the battle against leviathan and the welfare state, you have to convince Americans to give up “altruism,” the idea of sacrificing for others (or the state).

“We need to demolish the idea that ‘you are your brother’s keeper’ and that you have a ‘moral responsibility in life to others,'” he recently told Reason magazine in an interview.

His argument reminds me of Harry Browne’s famous letter to his nine-year-old daughter during the Christmas season. Under the influence of Rand’s philosophy, Harry gave her a Christmas gift in the form of a letter that declared, “No one owes you anything.” Not surprisingly, their relationship took years to rebuild after she felt abandoned by her father. You can read it here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/browne/browne65.1.html

I doubt if Yaron Brook will ever win this battle because Americans, like most people, have what Adam Smith calls “sympathy” or “empathy” toward others, and want to help the downtrodden and the needy.

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In fact, one might argue that the reason the government stepped in and started various welfare programs is because Americans didn’t do enough as individuals, churches and institutions during times of crisis like the Great Depression. The Mormon Church started its own welfare program, a model of success, but they didn’t begin until 1936, well into the Great Depression.

Now personally, I agree with Yaron Brook and Harry Browne to the extent that nobody should be “forced” to help someone. There should be no “Good Samaritan” laws. But there is nothing sinister about volunteer organizations helping those in temporary need of assistance, to get back up and start over again. I make this point in Persuasion vs. Force: http://www.mskousen.com/persuasion-vs-force-by-mark-skousen/

Mark SkousenYours for peace, prosperity, and liberty, AEIOU,
Mark Skousen
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