More Lincoln Quote Abuse

Drew Cline points out an article in Dartmouth's student newspaper covering the visit of That Side of New Hampshire's congressman, Paul Hodes. Drew focuses on this bit:

[Hodes] proposed that the Federal Reserve should not concern itself exclusively with inflation, but should also take into account the growing gap between rich and poor and jobs that are being lost overseas.

"I'm a free-market guy, but Lincoln said that government must do what free-markets can't do for themselves." Hodes said.

Emphasis added. Congressman Hodes is probably mangling this quote:

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities.

In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.

Let's see… some of the things individuals can't do, or can't do as effectively as the state, are: institutionalized slavery, genocide, Amtrak, and global thermonuclear holocaust. There are probably other examples.

Lincoln's words are clearly meant to describe a "necessary" test for state action; treating them, as Hodes does, as a "must do" blank check is silly, and shows no understanding or appreciation of the concept of limited government.

And it's more than a little weaselly to hide behind a Lincoln quote, even a mangled one; if Hodes thinks the Fed should (somehow) redistribute wealth and (somehow) force companies to hire more of Us and less of Them, then he should just make the argument directly.

In his comments, Drew points out, philosophical points aside, the general dubiousness of the proposal and also comments on that "but". Our previous Lincoln quote-abuse comments here.

Last Modified 2012-10-19 3:05 PM EDT