From President Obama’s press conference last night, one reporter asked a pointless question about Alex Rodriguez and steroids. I don’t much care for the story, although if you played a drinking game based on his answers, you got to drink because he broke out the “for the children” defense. (But, remember, he’s not playing political games, unlike the rest of Washington.) Still, there’s something useful in his answer [transcript here]:
Q Yes, thank you, sir. What is your reaction to Alex Rodriguez’s admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s depressing news on top of what’s been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball. And if you’re a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it — it tarnishes an entire era to some degree. And it’s unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight. And the thing I’m probably most concerned about is the message that it sends to our kids.
What I’m pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big of a problem this is for the sport. And that our kids, hopefully, are watching and saying, you know what, there are no shortcuts; that when you try to take shortcuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career, and that your integrity is not worth it. That’s the message I hope is communicated. [emphasis added]
The correct lesson is that shortcuts have consequences that each person must weigh for himself. Borrowing and spending $800 billion in an attempt to prop up an economy that has fundamental problems caused by government profligacy is a shortcut. It will have consequences. But with government the lesson is always the same. It’s not okay for an individual to take a shortcut that may have long-term consequences limited to himself because the shortcut offends our morals. But when government forces everyone to take a shortcut, then it’s okay because the shortcut is for the public good. Somehow.