Friday, October 31, 2008

David Harsanyi: "I'm suggesting Obama is praising and mainstreaming an economic philosophy that has failed to produce a scintilla of fairness or prosperity anywhere on Earth. Ever."


Blogger DADvocate said...

People eat up Obama's fooishness. Several times, using the current economic woes, he's harpooned McCain on the privitizing Social Security issue. Yet, Social Security is broke and there's still money in the stock market.

If all the money I've put into SS had gone into a decent fund, I'd be retired already.

12:09 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

But we'll get it right!

Heard it before.

12:30 PM, October 31, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me too, dadvocate.

1:05 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger Cato Renasci said...

Well put.

2:53 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger BobH said...

The reason socialism never worked before is because people were never as smart as we are.

I'd buy Obama a copy of Sowell's book A Conflict of Visions expect that I don't think he'd read it.

3:35 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger pete said...

Boy am I getting sick of this "socialist" nonsense all because Obama just happened to admit that government spreads wealth. If anything, the conservatives (who will spread just as much wealth only to different people) are making a false distinction.

I'm a regular reader of this blog and it certainly seems like there are a lot of McCain supporters here. I just can't understand you. I can't see anywhere where McCain will make things any better than Obama. But at least Obama's party hasn't justified the torture of prisoners, destroyed government transparency, and created whole new bureaucracies devoted to security theater and bluster instead of real security and diplomacy.

Oh, and Joe Biden has never implied that I'm not a real American because I live in a city, unlike his counterpart.

I'm certainly sympathetic to the conservative viewpoint and I live by conservative values in my own life. But I can't vote for these jokers anymore. The Democrats may not be better, but history as shown that they're not any worse either.

4:14 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger Thom said...

"I can't see anywhere where McCain will make things any better than Obama."

It's not our fault you're not paying attention.

If you really accept EVERY single tenet of Obama's platform as being as good as or better than McCain's, then vote for him. But if you claim to live conservative principles and can't find ONE area where McCain might be better than Obama then you're fooling yourself on one side or the other.

Or is national security not that important to you?

4:38 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger BlogDog said...

No. Government does not "spread wealth." Government collects taxes with it's full force of law behind the collection. Government then provides services such as national defense and mail delivery.
"Spreading the wealth" is pure social engineering and is a grossly illegitimate activity from government.

And you're "tired" of "socialist?" OK, I'll make it even more plain: Obama is a crypto-Marxist.

6:18 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger smitty1e said...

Mr. Harsanyi seems to overlook the fact that proponents of Senator Obama's philosophies also try to control the definitions in use.

10:05 PM, October 31, 2008  
Blogger highlander said...

The idea that we ought to redistribute wealth in order to achieve "fairness" is based on the assumption that the amount of wealth in the world is a fixed quantity.

It follows from this assumption that for some people to have more wealth, other people must have less. In other words, for one person to have a bigger piece of the "pie", someone else must get by on a smaller piece, and this is viewed as "unfair" and wrong.

It is true that if you measure the amount of wealth in the world at any particular moment in time, you will find that there is only a certain amount of it, and some people will have more while others will have less.

But the economy is not fixed like a photograph, but rather it is forever in a state of flux, always changing, like a movie.

If we drew a boundary around the actual wealth in the world at any moment in time, we would see that surrounding that "fixed" amount of wealth there is a vast and limitless expanse of opportunity.

The function of business is to convert that opportunity into new wealth, thereby expanding the total amount of wealth for everyone.

Yes, it is possible to get a bigger piece of the pie by taking some from someone else. But there's also another way: we can bake a bigger pie. Then everyone can have a bigger piece.

Think about all of the fantastic technological advances of the last century -- the telephone, radio, television, lasers, computers, teflon -- the list is virtually endless. Yes, each of these inventions made their inventors wealthy, but the amount of new wealth they created for all of us is incalculable.

I don't give a damn which party a politician belongs to. If he or she understands that business, properly administered, is the goose that provides the golden eggs which we can then use to make life better for all of our citizens, then they get my vote.

Please understand, I am not saying that business should be totally unregulated.

What I am saying is that we need to look after the health of businesses in our country in the same way we would look after a vegetable garden. We need to provide a nourishing environment which will help healthy businesses to grow and new ones to keep sprouting up.

If we can do that prudently and well, then we will have the funds to ensure the security of our country and take care of our citizens who are unable to care for themselves.

If on the other hand we set about redistributing the wealth "pie" from those who have bigger pieces to those who have smaller pieces, then we will discover, as others have every time it has been tried in the past, that the whole pie has shrunk.

And we will all be poorer for it.

1:10 AM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger Kathy Hall said...


I am constantly explaining this to people. But I've never heard it explained better than you just did!

7:01 AM, November 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

highlander, it really isn't rocket science, is it?

And you hit on a key element to my way of thinking, anyway. Helping those unable to help themselves. We should do that. We do that. I am all for that. Americans give more money to needing individuals and the organizations that are designed to help them, than any nation on earth. At home, and abroad. (Republicans give more than democrats, by the way. Look it up, lefties.)

If I am left with an amount of money where I am unable to provide for me and mine, there won't be enough left to help others.

What does the stewardess tell us in an airplane before take off? When the oxygen masks fall, put your own on first. You certainly can't help those starving for oxygen if you are already passed out from lack of oxygen yourself.

If it wasn't for di - gression
I wouldn't have no gression at all.

7:23 AM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger MOPP 4 said...

Wouldn't it be exciting if a candidate just said....'wow government is extremely over bloated. Instead of raising or lowering taxes, they will stay the same, but instead we will cut government spending by 20%.' Hows that for a novel idea. Oh and while they are at it, since the average Americans income is shrinking, let's cut Congress' pay. In the real world...if someone had a 17% job approval rating they would be fired.....and the pension and healthcare (family members too) for life for Senators even if they serve only one term or are convicted of a crime...yea, that needs to go too. No one else gets that outside of Washington.

10:04 AM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger pete said...

Of course I care about national security. Four years ago, I held my nose and voted for Bush solely for national security reasons. Implying that I don't care is close to accusing me of being un-American but I'll assume you didn't mean it that way. Obama has said that he will draw down our troops in Iraq and send additional troops to Afghanistan. This is what every commenter I've read (like Michael Yon) says needs to happen. The elected Iraqi government is beginning to ask us to reduce our troop levels and that's what Obama is proposing. What exactly will McCain do differently than that? Will he keep our troops there against the wishes of the Iraqi government? If so, that's an occupation and I can't support that. If not, he's no different than Obama.

I have no idea what a crypto-marxist is. I tried briefly looking it up but I can't find any good definition of it. It seems to be nothing more than a way of linking someone with Marx without actually calling someone a Marxist.

You said: "The idea that we ought to redistribute wealth in order to achieve "fairness" is based on the assumption that the amount of wealth in the world is a fixed quantity."

How does the size of the pie relate to the way we decide to divide it? One is about the size of the whole, and the other is about portions of that whole.

And while I agree with other commenters that your post is a great defense of capitalism and why the health of our businesses is important to the health of the country, the original post is about how Obama is a socialist and I don't see how Obama's policies equal are any more socialist than what we already have after 8 years of a Republican administration.

Absolutely right. I agree with everything you wrote. I almost always vote against incumbents for exactly those reasons. I don't have an official presidential incumbent, so I'm voting against the party in power.

12:35 PM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger BlogDog said...

If you can not understand the combination of "crypto" with "Marxist," don't blame me for your intellectual shortcomings.

12:50 PM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger highlander said...

Thank you kathy and br549.

And pete, I'll be glad to answer your questions, but first I need a bit of clarification. Who do you envision as the "we" who will be deciding how to distribute the wealth?

1:05 PM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger pst314 said...

"Boy am I getting sick of this 'socialist' nonsense all because Obama just happened to admit that government spreads wealth."

Pete, where did you get the idea that the purpose of government was to "spread wealth"?

1:28 PM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger highlander said...

A couple of thoughts:

I would agree with what I think Pete is suggesting, namely that the size of the pie does not relate, at least not very directly, to how we decide to divide it. My contention, however, is that how we decide to divide it does affect the size of the pie. If we simply take pie from some and give it to others in order to achieve "fairness", the whole pie will get smaller and there will be less of it for everybody.

And in any case, considering that there is a virtually unlimited supply of potential wealth in the form of opportunity, does it make sense to talk about "fairness" in the distribution of wealth?

Consider a village surrounded by a virtually limitless field of ripe wheat. Would it make sense to worry about "fairness" in the distribution of bread when virtually anyone who wants to can go out and harvest some wheat and bake some bread?

And yes, there will always be some who, for one reason another, are unable to harvest wheat or bake bread, and we do want to take care of them. In my mind it is not an issue not of "fairness" but of "care-ness".

I think we do want to take care of those who are genuinely needy, not because it's fair, but because we care.

2:17 PM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger highlander said...

Working to try to achieve "fairness" in the distribution of wealth is way different from working to reduce suffering among the genuinely needy whom we care about.

2:25 PM, November 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's like the flea in the glass jar,
or give a man a fish parables.

Personally, I like the "get off your ass and do it yourself" one the best.
That's what my dad taught me. And it is not by coincidence it carries the greatest personal satisfaction.

3:11 PM, November 01, 2008  
Blogger Peter Dane said...

To The Other Pete:

A Crypto-Marxist is someone with Marxist beliefs who pretends not to have them, because to be truthful about their beliefs would make them unacceptable as a candidate.

This is why Joe the Plumber is so hated by the Obamabots - he penetrated the veneer and exposed his socialist leanings.

Barack Obama sees "The Pie" as a zero-sum game. McCain, for all his failings sees that if you make the pie bigger, everyone gets more pie. This is a fundamental difference in principle.

7:15 AM, November 02, 2008  
Blogger djinn said...

Yeah, thats why the Scandinavian countries rate the hightest in per-capita income and happiness. How about a fact or two.

12:22 PM, November 02, 2008  
Blogger wolfboy69 said...

How do you measure happiness on a national level? I'm actually really curious about that. Is that a question in their census? If you aren't walking around smiling, do they have government employees that will tickle you? Or tell you dirty jokes?

If Obama wants to redistribute wealth to those who pay no taxes, that's fine. But there better be some conditions to it. No free handouts, you want the money, here's a shovel or pick or what have you...get to work.

I have no problem helping those who can't do for themselves, but those who are capable and refuse to contribute should get nothing. Here's an idea, those who are paying no taxes and get money they didn't put into the system, they should be taken down to the New Orleans area and assist in the building of houses and roads and levees. Or over in Texas. Or anywhere there has been a natural disaster. Then they can work for the money they have been given. Then we have them assisting those who truly need help, and getting valuable training in a trade as well. Seems like a win/win to me.

12:53 AM, November 03, 2008  
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