John Stossel

It's exciting that the world is so excited about Barack Obama. I'm excited, too. That he achieved the presidency says something good about America.

But the excitement also frightens me. It reinforces the worst impulse of the media and political class: the assumption that all progress comes from Washington. In a free society, with constitutionally limited government, the president would be a mere executive who sees to it that predictable and understandable laws are enforced. But sadly, the prestige and power of the presidency have grown, and liberty has contracted. That is not something to celebrate.

The infatuated chattering classes now demand "action" on the economy. They use positive words like "bold steps." The insufferable New York Times suggests the choice is "between a big-bang strategy of pressing aggressively on multiple fronts versus a more pragmatic, step-by-step approach .... " There is endless talk about how FDR ended the Great Depression and how Obama will apply similar "stimulus."

Please. FDR's "bold" moves didn't end the Depression. They prolonged it by discouraging capital investment. Hoover and Roosevelt turned what might have been a brief downturn into 10 years of double-digit unemployment.

Now Obama says, "we don't have a moment to lose," and he and the Democrats insist that government must unionize most of America by passing "card check" and taxpayers must throw even more money at American automakers.

This is the conceit of what Thomas Sowell calls "the anointed" ( The politicians know best how our money should be spent. The "road to serfdom" is paved with such good intentions.

Obama promises:

"We will change the world ... There is nothing we can't do, nothing we can't accomplish if we are unified."

Who is this "we" politicians always cite?

We can change the world for the better if "we" means hundreds of millions of free people pursuing their interests, inventing, building, parenting, helping.

But the politicians' "we" is different. It means government. "We" will take your money by force and order you about. A democracy can become the tyranny of the majority. That's no way to create prosperity.

Obama is an extraordinarily talented man. But there is one thing he can't successfully do: ignore the laws of economics. No one can do that. That's why we call them "laws."

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate