Spare Us the ‘Sputnik Moment’

Am I the only one creeped out by Obama’s loving references to Mother Russia? He can’t get enough of his “czars,” and now we are supposed to be inspired to greatness in a “Sputnik moment.”

Yes, even the socialist Soviet Union could produce a functional space vehicle, the Sputnik. Meanwhile, the Soviet government oppressed, starved, and looted its subjects for the benefit of elite rulers. Like the Egyptian pyramids, the Sputnik was impressive, but I wouldn’t want to live under the government that produced it. Notably, to the degree that the Soviets succeeded at anything, they did so mostly by accepting help from the West, stealing intellectual property from the free world, and permitting its people to violate Communist principles by trading on the underground market.

Of course Obama did not mean to imply that we should strive to model our own efforts after those of the Soviets. Instead, he alluded to the American response of the moon missions. He may not have noticed that the last moon walk was in 1972, and the federal government has made little progress toward space exploration since then. Thankfully, private space companies are now kicking off a real space race.

Here’s what Obama said:

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology –- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

In other words, Obama wants central planners to redirect forcibly seized wealth to corporate welfare for medicine, technology, and energy. Because if there’s one thing you can say about the Soviets, it’s that they proved the efficiency of central planning. But forcibly transferring wealth from those who earn it to those adept at kissing bureaucratic ass does not “create jobs” or benefit the economy; it takes resources out of the free economy to benefit the politically connected. Obama would know this if he bothered to check in with Bastiat or Hazlitt.

It is indeed telling that Obama wishes us to draw inspiration from the “achievements” of the Soviet Union. But neither our economy nor our liberties can handle much more of Obama’s Soviet-inspired controls.



Anonymous January 27, 2011 at 10:52 AM
One of my economics professors penned the following couplet. He called it “Cheops Law.”

Screams of Slaves cannot Diminish,
The Grandeur of the Works we Finish.

c. andrew