13 October 2008

Oingo Boingo Had it Right

This video details some (probably not all) of my concerns about Barak’s fiscal policies.

He is speaking with a small business owner (the plumber) who asks him a pertinent question “Your plan will raise my taxes, won’t it?” Barak avoids the question by saying “It’s not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everyone that is behind you, that they have a chance to share in the wealth.”

His words resonate with the everyman who feels he is lower on the totem pole. Of course that wealth should be spread around, shouldn’t it? The problem is that it doesn’t take into account that it is the small business owner who takes the risk. He is the one who puts up his own money or gets the credit to get his business running. He is the one who has to make sure that resources are available. He is the one who has to make sure that all the bills are paid. He is the one who has to make sure his employees are trained and are doing what it takes to generate the income to cover all the expenses and (gasp) make a profit.

What Barak (and all Utopian liberals) are describing is Marxist theory the redistribution of wealth. The problem with communism, or socialism for that matter, is that it is an impossible utopia that depends on everyone involved be altruistic – to care as much about everyone else as they do themselves. This denies the reality of human nature.

Maslow’s hierarchy describes how humans value, starting with survival and working towards self-actualization. I believe there is a similar hierarchy for the way humans react socially. At the core, at the survival level, they are concerned only about themselves. They then care about those they have accepted as a family unit. I use accepted because some people have a closer familial relationship with individuals who are not biologically related to them. From here, the concern is for the local community, and it spirals out to regional, national, and global levels, as they perceive each previous level is resolved.

I believe that there is a recent mutation of this concept in the liberal community where, for some reason, there is a new self-loathing. We see this in the “hate humans first” crowd – those who think that humans are the cause of all of the ills in the world; in the “hate America first” crowd – those who think that all of the world’s ills are due to the existence of the US’s capitalist foundation. We even have a “hate Christian’s first” crowd and a “everything that is not the status quo is better” crowd.

This doesn’t mean that the current politico-economic system in the US is perfect. In fact, I believe that Adam Smith would be spinning in his grave if he saw how things are working now. Smith’s theory presupposed a connection between private enterprise and the local community. I see why my liberal friends are disgusted when we see politicians selling out just to stay in power and corporations doing whatever they desire, regardless of who it hurts.

That being said, socialism isn’t the answer. When we place a burden on the small businessmen of America, we do exactly what Barak said he didn’t want to do – we punish their success. In my mind, if government wants to socially engineer business so that they “spread the wealth to those that back them”, they should do so by giving them incentives to do so, not by taking away that which they have earned through their risks. Oh, wait, that’s corporate welfare, now isn’t it? Hmmm, I’ll have to ponder that one.

Oh, and click the Boingo album cover for a musical and philosophic treat.
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