Sunday, November 02, 2008

Republicans Who Call Obama A Socialist Are Showing Either Ignorance Or Desperation


In the demented spirit of a godfather of American fascism, Joe McCarthy, plenty of Republicans, led by McCain attack dog Sarah Palin, are hurling the dreaded "S" word at Barack Obama. It's right-wing regurgitation.

The dreaded word in McCarthy's time was "communist." Now it is "socialist," and the far right bases this on Obama's clearly stated intention to enact very limited income redistribution for the benefit of working-class and middle-income Americans.

This misnomer reveals the stupidity of those who use it with any sincerity, and the desperation of those who actually took political science and economics in college and surely know better.

Socialism defined

Here's a basic dictionary definition of "socialism," from Webster's New World College Dictionary:

1. any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of the society or the community sharing in the work and the products.

Please note that the crucial part of the definition has to the with "the means of production and distribution." I am unaware that Obama has ever advocated nationalization of industries, Israeli-style kibbutzes or anything else that characterizes bona fide socialism. He is clearly, like almost all other American progressives, a welfare capitalist. He favors a system of private ownership, but with restraints, checks and balances, and limited intervention in the public interest.

Many conservatives, being ignorant, disingenuous, or both, have greatly expanded the definition of "socialism" to include any and all kinds of income redistribution that works for the benefit of those roughly at or below median income. To broadly paraphrase one of their heroes, Adam Smith, the richer people among them say nothing of their own gains; they complain only of those of other people.

Any time any public entity, whether a local hospital district or the federal government, makes any decision about taxation and/or appropriates money for anything, income is redistributed. It's a question of to whom.

What Americans have seen for about 35 years, more rapidly at times but always steadily, has been socialism for the rich, certainly by the "broader" definition of the right. A federal tax structure that was once progressive, and remains so on paper in some senses with the retention of brackets, has been gradually rendered impotent by the fine scalpel of legislators and tax lawyers. Most corporations now pay little if any income tax, and the very wealthy have myriad shelters with which they happily dodge responsibility for upkeep of the infrastructure, or even for bankrolling the latest war meant to increase their profits.

Socialism for the rich

As for socialism for the rich, I won't even go into corporate welfare, intrinsic advantages of the rich in the legal system, the system of legal bribery we call campaign finance, etc. I'm just sticking with their definition -- redistribution of income. The distribution of wealth is more unequal than it has been since 1929. (Remember what happened that year?) And this hasn't happened by accident. The '80s supply-side economists led by Arthur Laffer and David Stockman were quite above board in their intention to favor corporations and the rich in taxation, in the apparent belief that such policy would spur investment, create jobs, actually increase tax revenue, and result in "trickle-down."

For the most part, with some interruptions during the Clinton administration, the program of socialism for the rich was put over, and with accompanying indoctrination against anything faintly liberal or progressive. The New Deal was ancient history; and in the minds of many, the opportunistic right succeeded in perversely melding it with the failure of Soviet socialism, or with anything that strayed in the very least from a laissez-faire, supply-side party line.

I stopped being a fan of Ralph Nader after he ensured the presidency for an apocalyptic buffoon like George W. Bush. But Nader said something on a debate show that has stuck with me since: "They (the big corporations) want to socialize their losses and privatize their profits." Never was anything truer said.

Obama, though merely bringing a rather mild bourgeois liberalism back to the table, faces the wrath of fools conned by this right-wing economic nonsense, and the venom of those who would use ignorant "fellow travelers" of the far right to stay in control of the wheel.

But, with two days left until the deciding moment, history appears to be tilting toward Obama. Americans have had 28 years to endure "upscale" socialism. Many who don't listen to frothing-at-the-mouth rhetoric know firsthand what such policies have done to them. Indications are that a large turnout of such folks will hugely favor Obama.

Here's a link that shines more light on the subject. There aren't many real socialists left in America, but here's what their presidential candidate thinks about Obama. And, here's one more from the MSM, its own nasty self.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.


Anonymous said...

Here is Webster's definition of welfare capitalism:...hold on a's gotta be here somewhere. After all, if it is not properly defined by Webster's, it cannot be used to describe a candidate.
Goddammit! I guess we will have to find another meaningless 18th century socialistic utopian moniker that sounds softer than socialist. Or one that will at least create a smoke screen the day before the election. Somebody hurry up! Hey! I know! Let's divide the dictionary up evenly amongst all 300 million of us until we figger it out! If it keeps us too busy to vote, oh well. The pollsters can just decide for us.

Anonymous said...

The fact is, Obama is a centrist, business-friendly Democrat who isn't really much different from Bill Clinton (who in turn was "Reagan Lite.").
Sure, Obama will raise taxes modestly on the wealthy---but as Bush himself once pointed out, raising taxes on the rich is a meaningless exercise, as the latter can always figure out how to avoid taxes via an enormous number of loopholes in the tax code.
If you think I'm exaggerating, read David Cay Johnston's book, "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense--and Stick You with the Bill."

Anonymous said...

US Presidents are commonly thought to influence the economy only during, or shortly after, their actual terms in office. Not true. Entitlement programs instituted by FDR and LBJ still profoundly affect our economy today. And Ronald Reagan's historic tax cuts of 1981 are still largely in effect and are still pumping huge amounts of additional money into the economy. However, Bill Clinton and Al Gore got most of the credit during their administration for the continuing economic boom unleashed by the Reagan tax cuts. That undeserved credit may have gotten Clinton re-elected and saved him from being removed from office. It almost got Gore elected too.

When Reagan took office in 1981, the US economy was in shambles. We have difficulty remembering how bad the economy was under Carter, but it was described in terms of the "misery index," and the word "stagflation" was coined to refer to the double-whammy of economic stagnation combined with runaway inflation. The automotive industry was on the verge of collapse under the pressure from Japanese competition and an oil crisis. The American way of life itself seemed to be in serious jeapordy. It wasn't the Great Depression, but it was as close as we've come to it since.

The top tax rate was 70% when Reagan took office. He got it cut in half to 35%. At the same time, he eliminated many tax shelters that the rich routinely relied on to avoid paying taxes altogether, forcing them to invest in the free market and actually pay taxes. Shortly after the tax cuts were enacted, the economy took off for an unprecedented period of peacetime growth. The misery index plummeted as unemployment fell, inflation slowed, and interest rates dropped, leading to a seven-year boom that the liberal media cynically dubbed "the decade of greed."

Eight years later George Bush swept into office on Reagan's coattails and a pledge of "no new taxes." Although he tried to keep his pledge, Bush ultimately succumbed to unrelenting pressure by the Democratically controlled Congress to increase taxes. Not surprisingly, the economy went into a mild recession, though nothing like the recession of a decade earlier. Unemployment was well below what it had been under Carter, and inflation was completely under control. Nevertheless, the liberal media shamelessly dubbed it the "worst economic period of the last fifty years."

The media hype succeeded at getting their man, Bill Clinton, elected. Although barely reported, the Bush recession had actually ended before Clinton even took office, with a vibrant 3.9% annual growth rate in the last quarter of Bush's administration. In other words, the second phase of the great Reagan economic boom had already begun before Clinton even moved to Washington. But of course that didn't stop the liberal media from giving Clinton credit for it and dubbing it the "decade of prosperity."

How can we be sure the economic boom presided over by Clinton was actually due to Reagan? It's simple. Even though Clinton increased tax rates, the top rate after his tax hikes was still less than 40%, down a full 30% from the 70% rate before Reagan's tax cuts. In terms of the money left after taxes, that's a huge jump from (100-70=) 30% to (100-40=) 60% -- a doubling of the amount of money that continues, year after year, to go into the private economy rather than the federal budget. It hardly takes an economist to understand the huge effect on economic growth of doubling after-tax income.

Clinton also got credit for eliminating the federal deficit, of course. It is no coincidence, however, that the deficit didn't start coming down until the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994. As for the touted "Reagan deficits," the indisputable fact is that revenues grew tremendously during Reagan's two terms -- but spending by the Democratically controlled Congress grew even faster, at an astronomical rate. And contrary to the liberal media spin, the lion's share of the growth of the federal budget under Reagan was not on defense, but rather on social entitlement programs such as social security and Medicare.

Contrary to Democratic demogoguery about "tax cuts for the rich," incidentally, the rich actually paid higher taxes after Reagan's tax cuts. How could that be? Simple. Along with cutting tax rates, Reagan also eliminated many tax shelters and loopholes. Before Reagan, the rich avoided paying taxes by investing in windmills and other boondoggles blessed by the federal government (the "targeted" tax cuts that Al Gore wanted to reinstate). After Reagan, the rich shifted their investments to the free market, greatly stimulating the private economy and causing the information technology boom.

There's more to the story, of course, but everything else is really secondary. In fairness, Clinton actually did a few things himself to help the economy, such as opening up free trade and keeping the Federal Reserve Board under competent leadership. On the other hand, if Clinton had not been restrained by the Republicans, who took control of Congress in the middle of his first term, he would have raised taxes even more than he did, and his wife would have nationalized the health care industry.

When Clinton was impeached, his party argued that he should be given a pass because he was doing a good job managing the economy. Without the huge economic boost from Reagan's tax cuts, Clinton might well have been removed from office, or might have failed to win re-election. Gore would have suffered a humiliating defeat in the election to succeed him, or might have failed to even win the nomination. But don't hold your breath waiting for the liberal media to start reporting the truth. If America wants the Reagan economic boom to continue, they need to figure out for themselves what caused it in the first place.

But today, we need to remember Obama's promise, "I will raise taxes on the wealthy to levels no higher than they were under Reagan." The rate he refers to is the 70% rate inherited from Carter. But that's OK. It is only a mild increase, right?

Anonymous said...

Proof that Obama is flirting perilously close to European 'Soft Socialism'...

1) Sliding Down the 'Slippery Slope' of 'Soft Socialism': If Obama Walks Like a Socialist and Quacks Like a Socialist, Then He IS a Socialist Duck!!

ITSSD Journal on Political Surrealism

2) Europe & United Nations Try to Cram Down US Throat Socialist Financial and Environmental Global Governance; Will Bush & Successor Swallow?

ITSSD Journal on Economic Freedom

3) ''Yes We Can' - 'Crises' Used as Pretense for EURO-Socialist Global Governance-based Wealth Redistribution - 'Change We Can Believe In'

ITSSD Journal on Economic Freedom

4) Eurocrats & US Liberal Progressives Declare End of Anglo-American Capitalism & US Superpower Status: Is Euro-Style Global Socialism Next?

ITSSD Journal on Economic Freedom

5) PROOF POSITIVE: US Blue Party Welcomes UK's Gordon Brown & EU Socialist Party Leaders Who Endorse Obama in Effort to Influence U.S. Election Outcome

ITSSD Journal on Economic Freedom

Manifesto Joe said...

To Anon No. 1

Here's Webster's definition of "capitalism."

"1 the economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution, as land, factories, railroads, etc., are privately owned and operated for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions; it has been generally characterized by a tendancy toward concentration of wealth, and, in its later phase, by the growth of great corporations, increased government control, etc."

Those last couple of lines sound mighty familiar, stranger. Ya think it's the late-phase "welfare" style of capitalism to which they refer?

Of course, ever'body knows them dictionary writers is a bunch of godless, pointy-headed socialists.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Anonymous: thanks for your bizarro/Rush Limbaugh/Fox News/Alice in Wonderland views.

But I'd like to interrupt your LSD trip with a short dose of reality from Planet Earth.

>>>>Ronald Reagan's historic tax cuts of 1981

The only thing Reagan's tax cuts "accomplished" was putting lots more money in the pockets of the rich. Oh, and causing the titanic deficits that we live with to this day that are on the verge of turning America into a Third World banana republic.

>>>However, Bill Clinton and Al
>>>Gore got most of the credit....

Oh, so you're embracing the Rush OxyMoron view that, of course, Clinton deserves zero credit for anything good that happened on his watch (but, of course, he gets all the blame for 9/11).

Jesus Fucking Christ, it's no wonder you brainwashed morons vote GOP---you've managed to convince yourself that anything good that ever happens is because of your beloved GOP and anything bad that happens is because of the Dems. Reagan gets credit for every time the sun rose on his watch.

>>>When Reagan took office in 1981
>>>the US economy was in shambles.

It was a trillion times better than the second Great Depression that is upon us after 8 disastrous years of Bush. Oh, and for all the blame that you Wingnuts give Carter, note that his years were marked by a GLOBAL economic crisis that was caused by the second great oil shock of the 1970s. Carter really had zero influence over that (and your heroes, Reagan and Bush I and II would've been powerless in this situation as well).

>>>That undeserved credit may have
>>>gotten Clinton re-elected and
>>>saved him from being removed
>>>from office.

Uh, actually, what saved Clinton from being removed from office is that everyone in the nation (outside of the Kool-Aid-drinking Limbaugh cult) realized that the whole impeachment affair was a silly waste of taxpayer dollars and screamed "Enough!" The man lied about a blow job, for Chrissakes! U.S. presidents have been having affairs since Thomas Jefferson had a child by his slave mistress.

Meanwhile, your hero, Bush, lied America into $3 trillion fiasco of a war that murdered over 1 million Iraq civilian men, women and children. If there is a God, then Bush and all of his followers will roast in the flames of hell someday.

>>>As for the touted "Reagan
>>>deficits," the indisputable
>>>fact is that revenues grew
>>>tremendously during Reagan's
>>>two terms -- but spending by
>>>the Democratically controlled
>>>Congress grew even faster, at
>>>an astronomical rate.

Jesus Fucking GOP Nazis are STILL peddling this horseshit? (That the Reagan-era deficits were the fault of the Dem Congress?). In fact, as has been documented over and over, the White House and Congressional budgets were virtually identical throughout Reagan's two terms.

If you don't roast in hell someday for your embrace of the Iraq Holocaust, then surely you're going to roast for simply
being an evil, lying sack of shit.

(Oh, and NO, I don't believe that calling you and your ilk "Nazis" is over-the-top. You people spew out the same fucking blatant lies over and over until many people start believing them---and that's the "Big Lie" technique, straight from the pages of "Mein Kampf.")

Please, I beg you: turn off Rush for a few days and READ for a change.

EDUCATE yourself. Learn what the fuck you're talking about, before you spew your bullshit.

>>>his wife would have
>>>nationalized the health care

Horseshit! Hilary Clinton wasn't looking to national the health care industry, retard. That was never under serious consideration. She was all in favor of leaving it firmly in the hands of the private sector.

That you could be so fundamentally misinformed on such a basic aspect of her proposals for the health care industry shows that you are a Kool-Aid-drinking moron who gets all his news and views spoon-fed to him by HateWing radio.

Manifesto Joe said...

To Anon No. 3:

Wow. It must be nice to be able to just manufacture history, and live in one's own vaccuum-packed world.
Reality -- a good concept, but not required. Reagan -- goooood. Carter -- baaaaad. Clinton -- surpluses were because the GOPs cut a little bit off welfare, not because of Clinton's economic plan, which passed by one vote in the House, and reshifted the tax burden so that extremely rich people paid more. Revenues went way, way up, in just a few years. But then, when Bush gave out his tax bonanzas and started a needless war, the Clinton surplus
vanished and turned into a record-setting deficit. The empirical evidence can only be dodged by brainwashed fools.

Get it?

Anonymous said...

Well Gee Whiz, Wolly! Are we a little unhinged today? I do not think the statement of a few political facts based on reality instead of feelings justifies your little tantrum. But it really is always about feelings with you left wingers, isn't it. You believe the government should be manned (or womanned) by someone who has such a pulsing level of empathy that we all just sort of mind meld into a collective lobotomy. Well if today goes as the pollsters predict, you will have your messiah. You will no longer need to blaspheme the son of God in your effort to get a point across because once the annointed one takes the reins, everything will be A-OK. You will no longer need to foam at the mouth in your desire to see those with a more enlightened view cast into hell. That is all very Christian of you. Now, since I am a Christian too, I will offer you some advice. Stop spending so much time on the internet looking for gremlins. Take a vacation. Get some air. Based on the potency of the venom in your reply, you may need professional help from a physician, but you would be amazed what a little fresh air and sunshine can accomplish. But be careful not to get TOO much sun. I picture you as something of a Boo Radley, and like old Boo, I also suspect you secretly have a good heart and just want to have a friend. Well just remember, Obama will be there when you need that friend. He will cosy up to you at night and read your thoughts, and in the morning whatever you need will be neatly wrapped and left under your pillow. Now have fuzzy thoughts, little fella! Nighty night!

Manifesto Joe said...

It's been said that a person is entitled to his or her own opinions, but not his or her own facts.

You, Anon No. 3, seem to consider yourself entitled to the latter. This does create a great deal of frustration over on our side. If you really think there has been no correlation between income tax rates and deficits over the past 28 years, and you honestly think the Reagan administration closed enough tax loopholes and shelters to make much difference, you are indeed living in a dream world. And, unfortunately, you are far from alone.

On the plus side, 52% of American voters have finally decided that the policies we've seen for most of the past 28 years just aren't working for them. Maybe there IS a God!

Anonymous said...

What Type of 'SEAT at the Table' Will Be Reserved for an EURObama Administration??

And the Winner Is . . . Europe?
Firms on the Continent may gain the most under Obama.

Anonymous said...

Zut Alors! Is Obama More Like a European Socialist or a Nicolas Sarkozy?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous blaming the democratic congress for spending during the Reagan years is not factual, they slowed him down by 29 billion dollars. Of course the republican party doesn't do facts. The Grand Old Party is younger than the Democratic Party. There has never been a time where cutting the marginal income tax has resulted in prosperity, except when there has been a lot of government spending. Actually, cutting the marginal income tax has never resulted in prosperity and a balanced budget. Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush tried and failed. Eisenhower and Clinton raised the marginal income tax and had prosperity and a balanced budget. Clinton vetoed a ban on late term abortion. He would have signed it but the Republicans refused to have a line that allowed doctors to decide it was needed for the health of the mother. Clinton wanted to prevent women from being sterilized or killed by not having a late term abortion in the case of hydocephalic babies.

In summary the Republican Party Platform is mostly based on lies fear-mongering and anger. I am so glad that I am a reformed republican.