“Not for the Sake of Ambition” – Oh, Please!

One parenthetical phrase from President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Ted Kennedy made me cringe – “Not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country that he loved.”

I write this not as a criticism of the President or the deceased Senator, but of the attitude it conveys. First, it is blatantly false. No one without any ambition runs for the Senate or Presidency. Second, it raises an idea that I find disturbing, namely that political or governmental service is somehow more noble than economic service.

This idea is a derivative of zero-sum thinking about wealth. It encapsulates the idea that those in business are somehow stealing wealth from others and that those in government are there to prevent any massive accumulation of wealth by one person or a small group of people. What they miss is that while governments do not create wealth, businesses and individual do. Governments are instituted to allow for wealth to be created by protecting those that create it from the masses who would try to take it from them.

In short, they have hopelessly and irrevocable confused cause and effect.

3 thoughts on ““Not for the Sake of Ambition” – Oh, Please!

  1. Pingback:Twitter Trackbacks for “Not for the Sake of Ambition…” Oh, Please! [edkless.com] on Topsy.com

  2. We live in a world where atheletes, actors and musicians are put on display as the end-all be-all of existence. It’s to the point that I’m surprised when these people die that we aren’t stuffing them and putting them in museums.

    Personally, I’m ok with public servants being put up on the stage to gather some of the limelight. If nothing else, we keep an eye on the buggers easier.

  3. Yes, I agree, beautiful sounding words that mean actually nothing at all. Abraham Lincoln was one of the most ambitious men of his time. We don’t learn that in history classes, but if you study the biographies, you will find that out quickly. Plus, he was a millionaire lawyer who made his money defending railroads. Let’s have more ambitious folks like A. Lincoln go into politics, and just stop worrying about if they had an affair in the past, or if they sometimes acted depressed.

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