Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tilting Toward Socialism

Obama Stands for Socialism is the title of a David Limbaugh article. Obama supporters take offense at the very linkage of him to socialism but are there grounds for the charge? Obama has made no secret of his income redistribution plans. Income redistribution invokes thoughts of socialism because that goal is known to be a prominent policy of socialist governments. Obama supporters claim this is merely about tax reform i.e. making taxes more progressive. Tax reform is nothing new. Progressive tax advocates have been around for a long time. What's new is the call by a presidential candidate for income redistribution. It's a phrase most commonly uttered by leftists in other nations.

In the USA the poor pay little taxes. Generally no state or federal income taxes. They do pay state sales taxes. The top two percent of income earners in America pay a huge share of federal income taxes collected. Middle income people pay much less and the poor virtually nothing. If you don't pay taxes then do you merit a tax rebate? If Obama thinks so he is departing from precedent and earning the socialist label. Shifting tax burdens have previously been described as restoring fairness etc. Obama invites the socialist label when he insists on framing the issue as income redistribution. Tax policies are a poor vehicle for income redistribution. Sound enhancement of one's earning capabilities is needed. That involves much more than a transfer of tax money. So describing tax reform as income redistribution is either an exagerration or merely part of a real income redistribution program about which Obama will be more forthcoming after he is elected. There is no point in discouraging voters with details.

One more thing needs to be mentioned. The recent bailout resulted in the U.S. government buying shares of financial institutions. That is quintessential socialism. Is it any wonder that Americans would be wary of creeping socialism, knowing that a Democratic president, allied with a congress controlled Democrats, could pursue further direct control of business enterprises? There are reasons for wariness that have nothing to do with hate and everything to do with reading the tea leaves properly.

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