Bill Murchison
As the current president of the United States tells it, his Republican adversaries are launched on a crusade to revive the dog-eat-dog economic philosophy known to our great grandparents as "social Darwinism." Horrors! Loosen dependence on government and there's no restraining the ferocity of the marketplace -- "nature red in tooth and claw," survival of the fittest, cutthroat capitalism, the only kind of capitalism Barack Obama seems ever to have heard of.

The dynamics of free choice in the marketplace don't much engage the interest of a president with few, if any, contemporary rivals as to aptitude for ham-fisted political intervention.

Barack Obama all too plainly doesn't understand the free marketplace and its complex workings. Does anyone? Not completely. The point here, actually, is that Obama wishes to make those workings seem sinister and selfish.

As I was musing on these matters, I read The Wall Street Journal's account of Facebook Inc.'s $1 billion acquisition of 16-month-old Instagram, a photo-sharing app. Aha. Here was the point Obama seems routinely to misunderstand or slough off.

Now I'd never heard of Instagram before today. Had its two founders, graduates of my own school, Stanford, mailed me a solicitation, in December 2010, for $10 in underwriting capital, I might have complied. Equally, I might have written them suggesting psychiatric counsel.

The Journal calls Instagram "the go-to photo app for tech-savvy 20- and 30-somethings." Not in my job description. "A fun and quirky way," the newspaper elaborates "to share photos with friends. A user can snap a photo with an iPhone, then choose a filter to transform the look of the shot, with the app originally known for a look akin to old photographs."

My temptation to a cavernous yawn isn't shared, I gather, by Instagram's 30 million registered users. The users asked neither me nor the federal government to calculate the social value of such a product. A $1 billion profit for the founders in just 16 months -- the Department of Health and Human Services could have done better? How?

Obama's motive in ridiculing capitalism and by implication, its defenders, isn't, of course, analytical. It's political at the lowest level. The notion is, transparently, to excite alarm, then indignation, then a vote in November for one Barack H. Obama.


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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