I had an interesting discussion with a good friend last night about yesterday’s claim that Obama supporters are deluded and socialist. She took offense to this and said neither she nor Obama were socialist. Now, we bandy the word about quite a bit, but I decided it was time to examine the claim closer with as much of an objective eye as I can, and if he is socialist, what kind of socialist is he? She made the rightful point that she considered all Libertarians anarchists without looking at the various shades of libertarianism out there. Libertarianism is a big tent that encompasses a lot of ideologies. What they have in common is the desire for a smaller government. The differences in views are about how small should we make said government.
There are similar degrees of and shades to socialism. They range from libertarian socialism (which to me is an oxymoron), but is so named likely because it shuns government control of production and advocates worker control instead to authoritarian/state socialism, where the almighty state controls all.
I assess Barack Obama falls somewhere in the middle of the socialist spectrum, although there’s a lot of evidence that he trends toward the statist model, given his partial nationalization of America’s health care, auto industry and banking industry. But overall he’s more of a social democrat – someone who advocates increased social spending and redistribution. And given his constant yammering about paying “our fair share,” I doubt there’s any way you can say he’s NOT a socialist! His latest budget proposal increases the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans, who he claims just don’t pay enough.
Why? Because apparently they have more than the rest of us left over after the state is done raiding their wallets.
Never mind that the nation’s wealthiest people already pay the vast majority of the taxes! Never mind that more than half the revenue the government receives comes from just 3 percent of Americans!
Fair share? How is it fair to tax someone’s earnings as high as 42 percent merely because they happen to make $250,000?
How is charging the highest earners in the United States some of the highest tax rates in the world fair?
According to the IRS, the top 25 percent of earners in the United States paid 85 percent share of all federal income taxes in 2007. The bottom 50 percent of earners paid 3 percent. Who’s not paying their fair share?
And yet Obama wants to tax the top earners even more and redistribute that income to what he considers the “poor and middle class.”
But apparently they should pay more, because they HAVE more.
Socialism? You bet!
What about controlling the means of production?
I haven’t said that some safety standards and even environmental standards aren’t useful. But what we have in this country goes far beyond that!
Under the current administration the government bought a majority stake in GM, costing the taxpayers close to $100 billion. And while some whine that GM repaid it all, it only paid back the cash portion. The GM stock purchased with taxpayer dollars has stubbornly remained at about $20. According to a recent article in Reason, the taxpayers have lost quite a bit on the deal.
Last year, top auto analysts had expected GM’s stock prices right now to be around $43 per share. Even that price, I had notedat the time, would represent a $13 to $19 billion loss on the 500 million or so shares (26% of the company equity) that taxpayers still hold in the company.
But, as it turns out, that figure was too rosy! GM stock prices have been hovering around $20 lately – even though the market is at a recent high. This means the losses will be closer to $26 to $38 billion – and that’s not including the $15 billion in tax write offs that the administration illicitly handed GM during bankruptcy.
But OK, say the company was doing just fine, and the taxpayers actually got their money back! It’s still a government takeover of two large automotive companies – GM and Chrysler. And it’s a government takeover that pushed hundreds of auto dealers to close their doors under mandated timelines, losing thousands of jobs, while corrupt Congresscritters somehow managed to keep distribution centers and dealerships in their own districts open.
The government controlled who closed and when. How is this not government control of the means of production?
And what about the banking industry?
No one is denying there were some seriously flawed policies that caused the housing bubble and the banking crisis, but is the answer government regulation so vast that it gives the state control of the financial industry? How will altering bankruptcy rules to allow the government to take over a financial institution not socialist in nature?
Mortgage industry, student loans, health care… the list goes on and on.
This nation’s industries are overregulated to compensate for the uselessness and sometimes outright damage caused by prior regulation. The pattern seems to be “Here’s a regulation that either caused the industry to lose profits, or prevented it from operating in an optimal manner. Industry takes steps to circumvent said regulation, so the government passes more regulations to mitigate the effects of the old regulation.” The result is more regulation that increases employment for tax professionals utilized by large firms, but leaves smaller firms that can’t afford the staff to help them navigate the hellish regulatory and tax path out in the cold.
Meanwhile profits are demonized. Politicians, including Obama himself, hold up “unprecedented profits” as evidence that more regulation or taxation is needed. Production for profit becomes evil, to be replaced by production for use.
And how about some of the highest corporate tax rates in the world? Japan lowered its corporate tax rates this year, realizing that the nation was being harmed economically. That leaves the US with a 39.2 percent corporate tax rate – the highest among developed countries, putting us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our overseas partners. Is it any wonder companies are trying to leave?
Socialism? You bet.
Is it the type of Soviet socialism that prohibited private ownership of business enterprises? No. But there are degrees of socialism, just like there are degrees of libertarianism. While this one is by far not the most odious, it’s still noxious by its very nature. It punishes achievement. It strives to force the so-called “haves” to work for the benefit of the “have nots.” It claims to strive to help the needy, but instead keeps them effectively chained to government handouts, while others work to support said handouts and pay more and more each year.
So yeah, I think the premise of the philosophy is evil. It’s anti-competition and anti-human. Do I think the people who support Obama are evil? On the whole, no. But many of them are misinformed and just plain wrong. Others are shameless and disgusting in their zeal to suck as much money out of others for themselves as possible.