Is Obama Too Much of a Capitalist?

It might surprise you that at least one member of Barack Obama’s party, in the U.S. Senate, thinks Obama is too much of right-wing capitalist for the country’s good.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) discussed her relationship with President Barack Obama in an interview Monday with HuffPost Live, faulting his administration for being too close to big banks, but praising his support for Warren’s brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“I’ve made no secret about my disagreements with the administration’s policies, particularly as they relate to the largest financial institutions,” Warren told HuffPost Live. “… The president chose his economic team, and when there was only so much time and so much money to go around, his economic team chose Wall Street instead of American families who were in trouble.”

“But I also give full credit to the president,” Warren continued. “If President Obama had not been in the White House, we would never have gotten the consumer agency through. He stood up for it, he fought for it, and he made sure that even when those on his own team might have been willing to throw that agency under the bus, that the consumer agency was something that stayed part of the financial reforms and stayed strong.”

From a free market, unhampered capitalism point-of-view, a case can be made to keep economics and state completely separate (outside of legitimate legal claims of fraud / breach of contract, of course). But this is not the basis for Warren’s complaints about Obama being too close to corporations.

Warren is complaining about the fact that Obama gives any deference at all to private profit, capitalism or free enterprise. It’s fair to assume that she’s an all out socialist, and that if she found herself in office as President, she’d simply nationalize all of Wall Street at once. Or, like Obama, she might hesitate and fail to go all the way. The question is … why would she hesitate, just as Obama did and all the other hard-core opponents of capitalism, once elected, do?

Elizabeth Warren is really no different from Obama. She states openly, like he does, that we are all our brother’s keepers, and that it’s government’s right and obligation to bind everyone to one another economically and otherwise. This is her (and his) definition of morality, and therefore their resulting definition of government.

The problem is a little thing called reality. If government acted consistently on the moral premises of politicians like Elizabeth Warren, it would nationalize all of Wall Street — indeed, the entire for-profit sector — all at once. Hence, Elizabeth Warren’s frustration: Her cherished moral ideals are at war with the nature of life, existence and what human life requires for survival and fulfillment.

The consequence of economic nationalization, of course, would be catastrophic. Once all private property were publicly owned (i.e., owned by the government) absolutely all incentive and moral accountability would disappear. Employees would now be working for business owners, CEOs and corporate boards of directors who answer to Comrade Barack and Comrade Elizabeth. They would have no stake whatsoever in the outcome of any business succeeding, other than the politically defined “public good,” which has nothing whatsoever to do with the competent products and services only a free market can provide.

Try to imagine Apple Computer run by an agency in Washington D.C. Its present CEO and corporate officials would not be allowed to make any profits at all. Try to imagine McDonald’s operating that way. Or just about any business you can think of, large or small. We’re trained to despise and hate all businesses — the bigger and more profitable they are, the more we’re told we should hate them (hate should also be against the law, by the way–except when leveled at businesses who make a profit.)

Does anyone ever stop to consider: These big companies are profitable and successful for a reason? Because they’re actually doing what people want, so much so that millions are willing to pay them for it?

With the death of profit would come the death of all that is rational — indeed good — about life as we know it. In Elizabeth Warren’s universe, all that distinguishes America from an impoverished, starving nation would be wiped out in the name of what she considers moral purity.

People like Warren (and Obama) take a kind of puritanical pride in this war they wage against reality. They act and speak as if they really believe that they are morally superior precisely because they take on human nature. “It’s human nature to be greedy and selfish. Only pure morality — unfettered by any self-interest whatsoever — can achieve what’s moral.” And we’re supposed to admire and applaud them for their moral courage in providing the recipe for death and destruction on an international scale … if only the evil capitalists would get out of their way.

In practice, this means tying the hands of Wall Street and making it answer to the arbitrary and contradictory whims of the “consumer board” Senator Warren so treasures. Yet Senator Warren gets to be holy, as well. She gets to say, “Obama is trying, but he’s not going far enough.” How far is enough? All the way — only they all know it’s impossible to go all the way, because it would result in the total (rather than partial) destruction of our economy — indeed, our whole way of life — as we know it.


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