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Up to now, with some additions like veterans’ rights and subsidies for research, all that stuff has been pretty much done by private enterprise and individual initiative. People decided to be teachers, and went to universities established by the states, private institutions, and individuals and got an education. It was taken for granted that the national government played virtually no role in education.

Why does this now have to be done collectively?

Companies created labs and networks needed to create jobs. As for roads, most were built and maintained by states.

So in the guise of continuity, Obama just slipped through an unprecedented centralizing of America.

Will the mass media report on this point? Or critique it? Will professors explain to their students what a shocking misstatement of fact this is?

“My fellow Americans,” Obama continues, “we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.” That sentence might have been spoken by previous American presidents. Yet there is a profound difference. When they said “we,” they meant “we the people.” Obama means “we” as the institution that represents all of us, the federal government.

Again, he says that everything must be changed to meet the gigantic crisis America faces.

But — what is that crisis? Obama doesn’t say.

Indeed, since he claims the economy is recovering — so that’s not the crisis — what is it that requires fundamental transformation?

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.

But, good news, all this change doesn’t really change anything, because:

While the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

Hasn’t America basically achieved that goal, at least by its traditional definition? Isn’t the career of Obama himself proof of that?

But wait — there was a land mine in that phrase. It is absolutely incredible. Let’s look at it again:

While the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.

Wow — this puts us in the sphere of the participation trophy, or the carny games that you know are going to cheat you, but which proclaim: “Everyone a winner.”

How can the nation — that is, the country collectively through the government — reward everyone who, in effect, shows up?

You try, but you don’t do a good job. Reward! You get a university degree that qualifies you to do no known employable job. Reward!

And how hard do you have to try? How much do you have to do to merit that reward?

A society that rewards everyone will soon run out of money. A society that decouples reward from achievement will face the same fate.

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