Tuesday, November 11, 2008

trying to return the hype

Two commenters took issue with my contention in the previous post that a) Congressman Chaffetz thinks Obama is a socialist and b) that Chaffetz would be wrong to think so if he so believed.

Arc first states that there is a difference between declaring oneself to being a bulwark against socialist tendencies and believing the President-elect (or his party which controls congress) has socialist tendencies. But why would one feel the need to make such a declaration on election night if they weren't concerned about such tendencies (or believed that his constituents were so concerned)? Arc also gave me some sort of definition of socialism that seems more like the Social Democracies of Europe. But when McCain-Palin talked about "socialism," they also talked about "spreading the wealth" and "Marxism." Clearly, this means that they were talking about socialism in the sense of Marx-Engels, not Angela Merkel. Wikipedia defines socialism as "a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society."

To answer Trenton's comment as to why I don't think Obama is socialist, it is because there is no evidence in his proposals that he wants to collective own or administer anything the government doesn't already own/administer. Even arguably the most "socialist" policy proposal of Barack Obama, his health care plan is pretty minimal in terms of even social democracies. His proposed legislation (which won't be enacted into law because Congress will certainly change it significantly) would mandate health care for children, and give all adult Americans and their employers the ability to buy into the federal employee health care plan. There is also a bunch of stuff for reducing health care costs and ridding the insurance companies the power to exclude/deny coverage for folks with "pre-existing conditions."

It seems that George W. Bush and the 110th Congress are much more "socialist" when they passed a bill that went about buying stocks in financial companies under the $700 billion bailout package. And before that, when Bush had a Republican Congress to work with, Dubya expanded the government more any other president in history, yes even more that those great "socialist" presidents FDR and LBJ. You had prescription drug coverage, as well as a new federal agency that was corrupt and incompetent (the Department of Homeland Security). And like real communist countries from the 20th century, the Bush Administration featured jobs for incompetent party loyalists, torture, secret prisons, law enforcement agencies that were used political tools, and intelligence agencies used to spy on its own citizens.

The purpose of all governments is to use tax dollars and other revenues to make the lives better for people living in that jurisdiction. That means that some people will "get back" more spending towards things that help them than they gave to the government, but that is the price we pay for a civilized society that cares about those otherwise under-priviledged in their city/county/state/country. A rising tide should lift all boats, even if that means the yachts have to pull the dingies along. To quote that commie Adam Smith:
The subject of every State ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State. The expense of government of a great nation is like the expense of management of to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate.
In short, if Obama is a socialist, then so is the father of capitalism.

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