P.J. O’Rourke: Dear Mr. President, Zero Sum Doesn’t Add Up

Is life like a pizza, where if some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box?

P.J. O’Rourke on the opinion page of today’s Wall Street Journal.  I’m not sure if it’s behind the WSJ paywall requiring an online subscription.  If it is go out an buy today’s WSJ, it’s worth it for this piece alone.

O’Rourke starts by thanking Obama for a few of the things he’s done, or not done.  Then adds a long list of specifics for which O’Rourke says “No thank you.”  After the list there is this:

But the worst thing that you’ve done internationally is what you’ve done domestically. You sent a message to America in your re-election campaign. Therefore you sent a message to the world. The message is that we live in a zero-sum universe.

There is a fixed amount of good things. Life is a pizza. If some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box. You had no answer to Mitt Romney‘s argument for more pizza parlors baking more pizzas. The solution to our problems, you said, is redistribution of the pizzas we’ve got—with low-cost, government-subsidized pepperoni somehow materializing as the result of higher taxes on pizza-parlor owners.

In this zero-sum universe there is only so much happiness. The idea is that if we wipe the smile off the faces of people with prosperous businesses and successful careers, that will make the rest of us grin.

That quote is just enough to give the gist, the whole thing is a great read.

Obama’s presidential legacy will be that he spent his years in office nursing a grudge, getting even with those he thinks have wronged him, seeking revenge against people he doesn’t like.

O’Rourke acknowledges that Obama deserves “some of the credit for killing Osama bin Laden.” I’d withhold even that on the theory, “You didn’t do that. Somebody else made that happen.”  Like say, Seal Team Six.  But here’s the thing on that:  Osama bin Laden could have been taken alive, sent to Guantanamo and given the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed treatment (waterboarding) where he would have no doubt proven to be a treasure trove of valuable information on international  terrorists and their secret plans.  All that intelligence was lost and dumped in the ocean, along with bin Laden’s dead body. A president that was serious about stopping terrorism against his country would have taken all necessary steps to have mined bin Laden’s brain for vital intelligence to be used in fighting terrorists.

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