I understand Progressives. I really do. I can identify with their struggle.
Obama is a man with a vision. He wants to change the world. He sees things that need to happen in order to make the world a better place, and if only we all agreed with him, then it could happen. I understand that. I feel the same way. So when people just don’t understand, then what’s a man to do?
The easy way is use the existing societal structure to accumulate power through whatever means necessary, and then force them to follow you. As a scientist, I understand this tempting possibility- it would be so easy to get on the government dole and just live out my life in relative financial security while pursuing technological and societal advancements that I believe will change the world for the better.
But being a Libertarian, I have to ask, is that the right way to do things? Do I have a right to use the taxpayers’ money for my own goals like that? It’s the low-risk, yet unimaginative approach. Tempting, but morally questionable. I know I can make the world a better place with my research. But is it right to do so at the expense of others without their consent? Could I ever be satisfied with myself as a conscientious human being knowing that I’m living off of money taken by force?
And of course, such a deal with the devil comes with a cost- you have to work within the system. You’re subject to the whims of politics. Nothing you create is your own, because it belongs to the people. You do not receive the profits of your creations to reinvest, leaving you dependent on the government for survival and continuation of your professional activities. Obama faces these same problems in the form of an obstinate Congress and strict judicial system. The separation of powers is an important check against totalitarian dictatorship, and that is the system which Obama must work within, often to the detriment of his goals.
But there has got to be a better way. Why should I spend all my time justifying myself to government bureaucrats who get paid more than me when I know my research capabilities are worth paying for, and I know my vision for the future has great value to people? I know that if I could work on my goals full-time, I could create something that would make people happier and more prosperous. So if that is true, then why would I need to use force to obtain financial support? Shouldn’t I be able to find willing contributors?
That’s when it hit me- There is a way to do this. People have been doing this for centuries. It’s called “entrepreneurship.” I could found a business, or an organization, or a foundation. It’s risky. It’s not easy. It might fail. But it’s the right way to do things, and great virtue allows for great rewards. If I can convince the government to give me money for my projects, then I can convince a few millionaires to invest in my vision and put my ventures on the path to self-sustainability. And if I can’t do either one, then I’m screwed either way.
Of course, the path is strewn with many fatal obstacles- a dire warning comes from the fate of Solyndra and other start-ups aborted in their youth. But if I succeed, then I can show the world that there is a better way to innovate than through force. I can show the other scientists how to create value without making everyone participate. I can show the Progressives like Obama that they’d be better off creating something of their own to help others rather than taking resources created by others to help others.
This is how someone can be both a scientist and a morally righteous Libertarian. This is how real innovation happens.