But thinking like that , we are now told (with great civility), was all part of the battles of the last two years — the free market versus a state-planned economy — and since the past two years are over, it’s time to forget all that. Especially after state planning won the legislative battles, and the free market then won the 2010 election. And: “At stake right now is not who wins the next election — after all, we just had an election.” At a Sputnik moment, all those distinctions fade away. 2012? What election? We are now at war with Oceania, or the past, or the future, or something like that — and it is time to do big things together. We are going to “Win the Future.” In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen called it “jam tomorrow.” I speculate that even among those lawmakers in the chamber who wanted to be in sync with the president, this speech got a little strange.
OK, here’s the good news. I happened to be eating a hot dog this afternoon in the cafeteria of one of the congressional office buildings, and at a nearby table, a young man was telling his dining companion that he had just been reading Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose. I came home and had a look on Amazon — Free to Choose ranks #4,890 on the Amazon sales list. For a book first published in 1980, that’s not bad. Obama’s The Audacity of Hope currently ranks #2,945. I then took a look at F.A. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. Its Amazon sales rank is #324. Whether that portends anything for the future, I don’t know. But it gives me a lot more hope than any amount of presidential talk right now about rebuilding America with cars run on “sunlight and water.”