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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mr. President: If We Have To Ask...That is the Problem

The President seems to have been rather confounded by one specific question asked by a New York Times reporter. So much so, that he called the reporter back following their interview on Air Force One to elaborate. The spat followed a New York Times reporter asking the president if he thought he was a socialist.

Opening the unusual presidential call to reporters by saying that there was "just one thing I was thinking about as I was getting on the copter," he said it wasn't he who started the federal government's intervention into the nation's financial system.

"I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. It wasn’t on my watch. And it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement -– the prescription drug plan -- without a source of funding. And so I think it’s important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word 'socialist' around can’t say the same."

Cathy Young has written a great deal on Obama's quasi socialist tendencies and how they have been perceived from all sides.

For Obama's more strident detractors, the label is practically synonymous with "communist." Back in October, Washington Times columnist Jeffery T. Kuhner predicted that Obama's victory would usher in "the U.S.S.A."—the United Socialist States of America. This catchy phrase is now showing up on bumper stickers, along with the self-explanatory moniker, "Comrade Obama."This kind of rhetoric is not just the province of marginal firebrands. The New York Times reports that, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last weekend, Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and presidential contender, fulminated about the creation of "socialist republics" in America and asserted that "Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff."

To those who remember the murderous horror that was the USSR, this flippant use of Communist and Soviet analogies should be deeply offensive, indeed obscene—the right-wing equivalent of the leftist habit of flinging Nazi metaphors at conservatives. Lenin, Stalin, and Obama are as much of a trio as Hitler, Mussolini, and Bush. Lenin and Stalin did not want to tax the rich a little more; they wanted to confiscate all their property and either kill them or send them to concentration camps (and to eliminate all political opposition and independent opinion).Less wild-eyed critics acknowledge that the socialism they invoke is the "European-style" variety—in other words, not the system of our totalitarian Cold War enemy but that of our democratic allies. This is not to say that European-style socialism is something we should embrace, only that it's not a particularly terrifying bogeyman.

Young makes a rather intuitive point. Some of the more extreme Republicans, most recently Mike Huckabee, do themselves no favors when they attempt to put the most extreme labels on the president. The president isn't trying to model our country on Venezuela or even Russia. Yet, a very strong argument could be made that he is trying to model our nation on much of Western Europe which are all socialist democracies.

Moving the United States toward Western Europe is no utopian dream. Even prior to the economic downturn most of Europe faced stagnating growth. The population is not pro creating (as explained rather well by Mark Steyn in his book America Alone). The population regularly faces near ten percent unemployment and taxes are almost always above 50% of income.

Now, I myself, could be accused of using provocative and counter productive language against the president. Back during the campaign, I wrote a piece comparing him to Karl Marx. However, even back then, I made the same point that is relevant today.

is Barack Obama a Marxist? No, he is not totally a Marxist. Liberals will point out that it is ludicrous to point out he is a Marxist since Marx believed in the nationalization of industry, total government control, and a totalitarian state. That's true. Barack Obama pays lip service to the free markets from time to time. He doesn't want to create a totalitarian state. He doesn't want full nationalization of industry. He does however subscribe to the philosophy of wealth redistribution. He does want to partially nationalize health care. He does want the government playing a much more significant role in job creation and in regulation. The point is not to make Barack Obama an exact replica of Karl Marx. The point is how close do we want our President to be to Karl Marx. I reject everything that Karl Marx believed in. I want a President that is as far away from Marx as possible. Liberals seem to believe that if someone only believes in some of Marx' teachings that it is no longer an issue. It would be beyond the pale to compare Barack Obama to Karl Marx if our "only evidence" was his belief in wealth redistribution, government creation of jobs, more
government role in regulation, and the partial nationalization of health care. I think that is far too much resemblance to Marx myself.

The reason this question is relevant, and the reason that it strikes such a nerve in the president everytime asked, is because there are frankly far too many socialist tendencies. Every single domestic policy proposal that President Obama has either enacted or proposed is in one form or another from the socialist handbook. He's raising taxes on the wealthy and corporation, while funding all sorts of programs aimed at the poor and middle class. That is classic wealth redistribution right out of the socialist handbook. His universal health care idea is pseudo socialized medicine. He wants the federal government to lead on energy independence. Furthermore, his tax scheme has created a dynamic where more than half of Americans pay no income taxes, meaning more than half the country is now dependent on the government. He's nearly nationalized the banks and it's possible he will nationalize the automakers. I haven't even yet talked about his cap and trade scheme and his plans for a new "regulatory framework", all of which will mean the state is significantly more involved in commerce.

All of this socialistic in one manner or another. The reason that the president is so sensitive to this question is that on many levels he is socialist. He is certainly not in the mold of Lenin and Chavez and comparing him to them is counter productive. That said, he absolutely wants to move our country toward the Western European model. He is doing it under the guise of a crisis, and he's attempting ram this agenda through before anyone has a chance to digest what it all means. Finally, the reason he is so sensitive is that given a chance to reflect, Americans will by and large reject any plan to make America like Western Europe. Try as he might to mask that intention, there is no question that President Obama is attempting to move our country toward that model.


mike@hotmail said...

Everyone acts like socialism is the friendly cousnin of communism, and is not to be feared.

The essential essence of socialism is a centrally planned and ordered economy.

Central planning is completely useless without increasing centralizing control.

The essence of America is invididual liberty, personal choice, personal initiatives. These are utterly incompatible with central planning and control. England is a case study in the suppression of dissent and the individual as the "captain of their soul". Just because Obama isnt Stalin doesnt mean he does not share his essential trait, that he should be the final decider of what is best. The enforcement method isnt death camps today, it's systematic planned marginalization and ridicule through the teacher, the employer, the media, etc. Obama is a socialist, and yes, socialists are very bad for you.

Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is, America has reached a point where the Reagan Era is not just considered over, but it is considered a failure that is responsible for the mess we are in today. That is quite a bit for the Republicans to get over, especially with almost no effective leadership in the House or Senate.

mike volpe said...

I'm sorry, did I read that right?

Reagan stopped being president 20 years ago. He stopped being alive six years ago, and yet, you are saying that America, not you, but America largely blames him for the crisis. What kind of ridiculous and paranoid nonsense did you just write? The only people blaming Reagan for this crisis were the same people that blamed Reagan for every problem they found when he was president. America has reached no such point. You reached such a point and you likely reached it a long time ago.

Nicolas Krebs said...

"The population is not pro creating (as explained rather well by Mark Steyn in his book America Alone)." (mike volpe)

The Europeans are of course breeding, which show obviously that Mark Steyn is not reliable in demography.

mike volpe said...

Of course, the Europeans are, however they aren't breeding enough to survive. You need two have two children per couple, and the Europeans are having a lot less than that, somewhere around one per couple. The numbers don't lie and Steyn goes through each and every one of them.

Nicolas Krebs said...

"Of course, the Europeans are, however they aren't breeding enough" (mike volpe)

Feel free to update your article.

"You need two have two children per couple, and the Europeans are having a lot less than that, somewhere around one per couple."

How many exactly: 0.99, 1.01?

"The numbers don't lie"

Indeed. The liars are the one who lie.

"Steyn goes through each and every one of them."

Mark Steyn is an amateur in demographic numbers.