Out of the Mouths of Babes

Those engaged in political disputation will often assert that what they contend “is so obvious that even a child can see it.” This statement is usually made for rhetorical purposes and is not meant to be taken literally. However, I was recently engaged in a discussion in which the solution to the problem under consideration really was so obvious that a child could see it, and interestingly, only a child did.

In a recent speech, President Obama proposed lowering the corporate tax rate in return for increased spending on a list of items that included biofuels and electric cars. Several of my fellow professors and I were discussing this speech at my home when the conversation turned to the Obama administration’s poor record of investing in green energy companies. The $535 million loan guarantee the U. S. Department of Energy gave Solyndra, now bankrupt, and the $529 million loan guarantee it gave to Fisker Automotive, soon to be bankrupt, were offered as supporting evidence. With a sigh, one of my colleagues quoted Milton Friedman’s aphorism that “nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.” My eleven-year-old daughter, who was nearby and overheard this remark, interjected, “Then why not have the people who decide where to invest taxpayers’ money invest some of their own money as well?”