President Barack Obama said he’s focusing the end of his presidency on increasing income equality because the recovery’s benefits haven’t spread to the middle class while enriching the wealthiest Americans, according to an interview he gave to website Vox.com.
During his presidency, the government has done all it can to equalize income. Taxes have been raised, federal regulations have been increased to unprecedented levels, government intervention in the marketplace (e.g., Obamacare) has reached new levels, domestic spending (mostly borrowing) has risen more than at any time in human history, and high-income earners have been routinely, if not daily, morally chastised for having more money than other people.
If these policies were effective and rational, you think Obama would have what he wants by now, and wouldn’t have to focus on it in the final months of his presidency.
The fact is: socialism (whatever degree or form it takes) fails even on its own terms. While it’s effective in stirring up people’s envy and reinforcing people’s worst fears that life is a vale of tears and only government can correct this, it doesn’t actually deliver the goods. It never has and it never will. Eight years of Obama and a largely passive or compliant Congress should have led to more spreading of wealth. Instead, the middle class is actually shrinking. [See “The Shrinking American Middle Class” at nytimes.com 1/26/15]
Obama was supposed to succeed where Marx, FDR, and everyone else before him failed. But as most can now see, he proved a hollow hero. Is it his ideas and premises that were wrong? Or will we keep trying the same thing over and over, only with a different personality (maybe a woman president this time)?
When will advocates of “progressive” economic policies — bigger government, higher taxes, more social spending — be happy? If Obama’s relentless and unprecedented government growth makes them grouchy, then what’s the alternative? President Hillary Clinton or President Elizabeth Warren will do essentially the same things Obama did, because — short of literal Communism or fascism, i.e. overnight nationalization of all private property in the context of a dictatorship — there’s really not much else they can do.
Socialism, at least in previously well-off democracies, is really a psychological phenomenon as much as an economic one. Socialism, particularly socialism American-style, promises to deliver the goods and to do so by the standards that make a progressive socialist feel good about him- or herself, based on the premises of altruistic self-sacrifice which are imposed on the population as a morality of the state. It’s a secular religion, a religion for intellectual types; unfortunately, the standard of church-state separation has not (yet) been applied to this personal, emotional belief system of progressivism. It should be.
In a Jan. 23 interview published Monday, Obama said it’s necessary to use tax policy to boost the economic outlook for teachers, construction workers and other middle- and lower-class Americans because so much wealth is concentrated with corporations and the wealthiest individuals.
Of course wealth is concentrated in the hands of those who create the most of it. If I invent a product or service that millions or even billions of people want, and if I can profitably distribute this product or service at prices that most people can afford and are willing to pay, then — by necessity — I will have a greater concentration of wealth than somebody who doesn’t pull the same thing off.
Complaining that some have more wealth than others is no different from complaining that some people perform better than others. Unless you believe that everything in life is an accident, and that behaviors or choices have nothing whatsoever to do with the success (including economic) you attain, then there will always be economic differences. This isn’t a sign of injustice or toxicity; it’s an indication of justice and economic health. That’s America’s tragic error: Trying to push society away from the very things that survival and happiness require.
“What we’ve proposed, for example, in terms of capital gains, that would make a big difference in our capacity to give a tax break to a working mom for child care,” Obama said of his tax proposal on which he hopes to work with congressional Republicans to pass.
“That’s smart policy, and there’s no evidence that would hurt the incentives of folks at Google or Microsoft or Uber not to invent what they invent or not to provide services they provide,” the president said. “It just means that instead of $20 billion, maybe they’ve got 18, right? But it does mean that Mom can go to work without worrying that her kid’s not in a safe place.”
Whose money is it, anyway? If the government is entitled to seize $2 billion of private sector wealth for redistributive purposes, then why can’t the government seize $5 billion — or even all of it? If the only thing standing between this seizure is enough votes in Congress, then where does that leave private property rights?
If you polled Americans and asked them, “Should the government support private property rights?” an overwhelming majority would probably reply, “yes.” Yet if you polled Americans and asked them, “Do large corporations make enough money and should they be required to give more of it away?” a majority would probably say “yes” to this, as well.
Sooner or later, people will have to become consistent. America is either a free country, or it isn’t. You either own what you earn, or you don’t. You either think the government is better equipped to make decisions, or the free market is. You can’t arbitrarily draw the line in the middle somewhere. That arbitrary “middle” line is moving progressively in the direction of more and more socialism. In fact, the more we move that line closer to all out socialism, and the worse things get, the more we’re led to believe that capitalism and free markets are the problem. What capitalism? And which free markets? It’s the remnants of those systems that are keeping us going.
One day we’ll wake up and find out that private companies, economic health and economic wealth are not really such evil things. The way we’ll know that is when they’re gone. Some of us will still scream that it’s capitalism’s fault.
The middle class is a product of capitalism — the very system we’re decisively and progressively moving away from; so of course the middle class is shrinking. If you want the middle class to grow, then you’ll have to support the thing Obama and his probable successors (in both parties) oppose: free market, hands off capitalism. Curse it as you might, the private sector is where all wealth is created. Without that sector, Google and Microsoft would be gone — and Obama’s middle class Mom demanding free child care, or whatever else, will be in a whole lot of trouble.
The above citations are from newsmax.com and bloomberg.com 2/9/15.
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