Letter to a Red-Stater.

hardheadjarhead

Senior Master
Joined
Aug 25, 2003
Messages
2,602
Reaction score
71
Location
Bloomington, Indiana
Letter to a Red-Stater.

What follows is a letter I wrote to my niece's husband, Jack, who lives in Georgia. He'd accused Obama of socialism (as have some here), and I attempted to refute this at length.



Steve Scott
Punahou, '75
Indiana University, '79.

---------------

Jack,

Let's look at the charge that Barack Obama is a socialist. You gave me 96 hours to do so...and I've used much of it already, but I will get it in under the wire. This is long, but I spent some time on it...so I hope you do the me the courtesy of reading it (and some of the key citations and references) and giving it some consideration. Between now and the election, you should be able to get through it.

First, you asked for a definition of socialism. Here are two, with citations:

Socialism: An economic system in which the basic means of production are primarily owned and controlled collectively, usually by government under some system of central planning. (http://countrystudies.us/united-states/economy-12.htm).

Socialism: An "economic, social and political doctrine which expresses the struggle for the equal distribution of wealth by eliminating private property and the exploitative ruling class. In practice, such a distribution of wealth is achieved by social ownership of the means of production, exchange and diffusion. (Rius, Marx for Beginners (New York: Pantheon Books, 1976), 152.)

Socialism isn't monolithic, certainly. The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx, is a damning indictment of capitalism and other socialist movements, of which communism is just one. I just finished it Friday.



There are five points I think refute the socialism allegation. I'll deal with them in detail. Briefly, they are as follows:

1. The charge is new, and only as of last month became a talking point for McCain.
2. Obama's tax plan, the centerpiece for the charge, is not unusual and follows a standard model.
3. McCain himself advocated such a progressive tax plan in the past. Palin has also used "spread the wealth" economics.
4. Obama's economic plans do not fit the ideals of the American socialist movement.
5. American conservatives and publications have endorsed Obama, and wouldn't do so were socialism a part of his economic plan.



1. A New Line Of Attack. I submit the socialism charge, presented hand in hand with the phrases "spread the wealth" or "wealth redistribution" and variations thereof, are recent additions to the McCain campaign. It all started with "Joe The Plumber."

When Sam Wurzelbacher (Joe isn't his real name) approached Obama, it was indeed Obama himself that used the phrase "spread the wealth." Certainly, had he said "spread the burden" it would have been more accurate in describing his tax plan and less controversial. I'm sure he regrets it.

Part of their conversation is as follows during their talk about taxation:

"Its not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too… My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off [...] if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody."

Listen to Obama's explanation of his tax plan to Joe here:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1a4_1224166209

It outlines Obama's tax plan fairly clearly. I ask that you listen to it in it's entirety.

Now let's look at the "Pre-Joe Era."

Google the transcripts of the speeches that McCain and Palin made at the Republican National Convention. Now cut and paste said speeches to any word processing program. Use the "find" function to scan for the words "socialism" or "socialist."

The words weren't used once.

Look for "wealth" and you'll find it in McCain's speech in the context of "oil wealth." You won't find "wealth redistribution" in either speech.

if this was an issue and relevant charge, how is it that these two and their speech writers MISSED mentioning it during these key speeches? It was the one moment they had the focus of the nation. Are they so incompetent that they wouldn't have brought up the issue of socialism? No. They're not. Back then it wasn't a part of the game plan. They didn't think of the "S" word until Joe came along.

The "S" word is a last feeble attempt--of many feeble attempts--to get something to stick to Obama. For the large part, it seems to be failing.


2. The Tax Plan. Sue may well have forwarded this to you, but here's a graphic from the Washington Post that outlines the tax plans of both candidates. Find your tax bracket there and then compare it with the others:


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/06/09/ST2008060900950.html



The chart above is consistent with what Obama said in his conversation with Joe. His plan raises taxes...BUT ONLY ON THE RICH.

Possibly the thing that I find most disingenuous about the McCain campaign's message is that Obama is going to raise taxes...without specifying on whom the taxes are raised. Millions of Americans think Obama is going to raise their taxes, and he has never claimed he was going to do that on anyone making less than $250,000.

Again, view the "Joe The Plumber" video or listen to Obama's tax policies as expressed in all three debates. He is consistent. Neil Cavuto of FOX news, of all people, credits him with that.

Giving a tax break to the middle class and raising the taxes of the rich isn't socialism. And it has precedent.

The progressive tax system we now have was first instituted by Teddy Roosevelt, one of John McCain's (and one of my own) heroes. Roosevelt wrote:

"A heavy progressive tax upon a very large fortune is in no way such a tax upon thrift or industry as a like would be on a small fortune....and as an incident to its function of revenue raising, such a tax would help to preserve a measurable equality of opportunity for the people of the generations growing to manhood....

The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes...."

(http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/10/teddy-roosevelt-socialist-advo.html)


You'd think Teddy was talking to Joe the Plumber.


3. McCain Advocates Progressive Tax. I don't mean this as a crack on McCain, but look at the following video. In the last eight years McCain has used much the same rhetoric that Obama...and Roosevelt...have used:


Forgive the sarcastic title. I didn't pick it for that. Of course McCain is not a socialist. What he is claiming here (and elsewhere on YouTube, this is just a sample) is that the rich need to pay a higher percentage, as Roosevelt advocated and as other Presidents have effected. I struggle to make two mortgage payments. I seriously doubt a hedge fund manager living in a $10,000,000 home in Newport, Rhode Island, is going to go broke with an 8.7% increase. That is essentially what Roosevelt said, what Obama says, and what McCain used to say. They all advocate...dare I use the phrase? "Spreading the wealth around."

Palin herself has done just this by levying windfall taxes on oil corporations and giving the cash directly to Alaskans. I applaud her for this...but it is, by her own definition in her speeches attacking Obama, socialism. She said, "See, under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were, were yours, they would really collectively belong to everybody." She, however, "redistributed" oil wealth to her consituents, and the natural resources in Alaska belong to the people collectively. It's all how one frames it.

4. Obama's Plan vs. Socialism's Goals. Obama's economic plan, aside from taxes, doesn't advocate socialism either. He isn't calling for government takeovers of industry. There is a big difference between the abolition of private property and the regulation of corporations...the latter of which is something that both he, McCain, and Bush are now calling for with the bailout of our banking and auto industries. Note too that Roosevelt, that Republican icon of progressivism, was one of the first to mandate governmental regulation of business. That isn't socialism.

Obama calls for tax relief for small businesses, most of whom make less than $250,000 a year. He further calls for an end to capital gains taxes for small businesses (I'm all for that). I can find nothing on this page, nor any of his speeches, nor any of his debates that suggest socialism as defined above:

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/

Contrast that with the Socialist Party's website:

http://socialistparty-usa.org/platform/economics.html

Where has Obama called for the cancellation of Third World debt? The abolishment of property taxes? Getting rid of sales tax? He hasn't.

This week Stephen Colbert interviewed the Socialist Party presidential candidate, Brian Moore, in order to determine whether Obama is a socialist. Moore said, with some pique, that Obama was a capitalist. The socialists themselves reject Obama:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/article866862.ece


5. Obama Has The Support Of Conservatives. My final appeal is this: Were Obama a socialist, how is it that he has gained the support of of so many noted conservatives?

Lately there has been a hemorrhage of conservatives to the Obama camp. Christopher Buckley, son of the founder of the modern conservative movement; Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein; economist David Friedman, son of Nobel Laureates (and economic conservatives) Milton and Rose Friedman...the list is lengthy:

http://www.republicansforobama.org/?q=node/3341

Their arguments are best summed up by conservative Wick Allison. Allison, a former editor of the conservative flagship, The National Review, wrote this on Obama. Again, please take the time to read it:

http://www.dmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod...s&tier=3&gid=B33A5C6E2CF04C9596A3EF81822D9F8E


These are not people who support a socialist agenda. They're among the elite of their party, their best and their brightest.


Even conservatives who rail against Obama, such as Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol, admit his plans don't lead to socialism. Obama's plans are liberal, of course...otherwise Krauthammer and Kristol wouldn't lambast him. We expect them to do that. We can also expect Obama will be what Kristol said he would be on "The Daily Show" the other night. "He'll be a conventional liberal."

Conservative papers like the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, and the L.A. Times have endorsed Obama. Its the first time the Tribune has endorsed a Democrat in its 151 years of existence. Obama has a greater than two to one advantage in newspaper endorsements. Lest one say this is just the liberal media, remember that fifty-five of these papers backed Bush in 2004.

These are not news organizations that support socialism.

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003875230


Last Reflections...

So who is Obama, Jack? He is now an elite socialist millionaire, his own wealth soon to spread? He is now a radical Christian muslim. He is now buddies with a domestic terrorist, and yet somehow has garnished the support of a large number of the Republican aristocracy. Do you see my point? Obama's critics are all over the map with contradictory attacks. He can not be all those things.

We have had twenty months to vet this candidate, and in that time the charge of "socialism" came up in the first week of October. It's a hollow charge, born of desperation and poor poll numbers...and it simply isn't true.

For many, this is the latest straw to grasp...a hasty rationalization hiding true feelings regarding Obama's race. For others still, the socialism charge paints a pale justification for a party identity that they've held all their lives. They were born Republican, their families vote Republican...and nothing anyone can say or do will change their minds. No data suffices, no argument sways.

I'm certain you don't fall into the first of those categories. I don't even know if your family is Republican or not, so I can't suggest the latter category describes you. Regardless, how you came to believing Obama was a socialist is irrelevant. But this you believe, though you've softened it to his "leaning that way".

This is the most important election of our lives, and I think neither of us would deny it. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and our country to approach this election with a spirit of deep research and serious bent. Granted, I have been guilty of sending on the caustic remark, the scathing cartoon. Flippancy and irreverence is my nature. We know this. This is nothing new.

And yet, I haven't been idle. I have taken much of this campaign seriously, and the research I've presented herein is a drop in the bucket to what I've done for the last six months. I say that without exaggeration, if one can measure the exaggeration of a metaphor. It has exhausted me, made me testy and confrontational. And too, we know this. And too, this is nothing new.

I leave this to you to read, and your vote to cast. It was good for me to write, even if the heart it addresses has hardened to its appeal.


With love from an even redder state than thine,

Steve Uncle
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
Steve,
What were your findings on the claim that he was a certified member of a socialist politial party?
 

rhn_kenpo

Yellow Belt
Joined
Sep 22, 2008
Messages
36
Reaction score
4
Location
Pasadena, CA
His plan raises taxes...BUT ONLY ON THE RICH.

Possibly the thing that I find most disingenuous about the McCain campaign's message is that Obama is going to raise taxes...without specifying on whom the taxes are raised. Millions of Americans think Obama is going to raise their taxes, and he has never claimed he was going to do that on anyone making less than $250,000.

It would take about 5 minutes of research to learn that 'the rich' already pay the vast majority of income taxes collected in the US. 40% of all those who file an income tax return pay NO income taxes at all. None. Our tax system is already very progressive.

Obama's plan will simply make those who already carry the heaviest load pay more. Putting a heavier tax burden on the most productive segment of our economy has never been a long term winning strategy.

But why let facts mess up a good story, huh?

Obama is NOT a socialist. That is just nonsense rhetoric from folks who probably can't even define the term. But there are aspects of his economic policies that can be fairly attacked. There is never a simple/clear right answer on these issues.
 

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
Heres info on the tax increases planned for the successful folks.
http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/29/news/economy/candidates_tax_plans/index.htm?postversion=2008110316

Under BOTH Obama and McCain, people earning under $200,000 would see tax cuts. McCain's plan however called on continuing to lower taxes across the board, while Obama seeks to punish people who are more successful.

Maybe instead of raising taxes on the successful, he should cut out all those welfare programs that coddle the failures. I'm sure dropping Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and all other Federal-Level social programs would create a nice surplus of cash. If you want to keep them, just tell me where the Constituton states the Federal should do em.


It's all moot though. Assuming he wins (and the touch screens don't "drift" votes McCains way), all those big promises of a Federal Welfare State paid for by the guys who put in the 100 hr weeks are at least 10 years out. His first 4 years are going to be little more than belt tightening, and more big corporate bailouts, and even some tax increases on us 'little guys'. AIG needs to be helped more ya know. More "BOMBs" need to be dropped to save the incompetent financial marketers, and maybe we can include a subsidy for flint knife napping in the next one.
 

KenpoTex

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 24, 2004
Messages
3,001
Reaction score
143
Location
Springfield, Missouri
Maybe instead of raising taxes on the successful, he should cut out all those welfare programs that coddle the failures. I'm sure dropping Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and all other Federal-Level social programs would create a nice surplus of cash. If you want to keep them, just tell me where the Constituton states the Federal should do em.

My sentiments exactly!
 

crushing

Grandmaster
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
5,082
Reaction score
134
Thank you for sharing your letter.

How does what McCain says refute whether Obama is a socialist? It looks like basis of 3 of your 5 points depend on what McCain or so-called conservatives say about Obama, then the other two points go on include what McCain has said or that McCain may also have subscribe to a socialistic idea.

It appears the best point is that Brian Moore says Obama can't be a member of the American Socialist Party because Obama isn't in lock step with the party's leadership. But, can not one be a socialist without signing off on a specific socialist party's platform?

That being said, I'm not arguing that Obama is a socialist and I have never made the claim that he is. I just don't think the five points hold up well. While Obama may have some ideas and tendencies based in socialism (one of your points is that McCain does too), that does not make him (or McCain) a socialist.
 

zeeberex

Green Belt
Joined
Oct 25, 2008
Messages
173
Reaction score
4
My offering is more simple, I voted first thing in the am and now I sit back and watch. What will the news networks cover next week when it's all over?
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,374
Reaction score
4,679
Location
England
I must admit the mechanics of you all voting is a bit mind boggling, here we are all in the same time zone at least! The polls close at 2200h and a couple of hours later after all the frantic counting has been done we have the results.
 

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
We'll be hearing results long before the polls close. Personally, I prefer the "do it in the dark, and announce results 9am the next morning." :)
 

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
I still haven't seen a rebuttle on the proof, but I doubt we will.
Doesn't matter.
America has spoken.
 

Cryozombie

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 11, 2003
Messages
9,998
Reaction score
206
Why refute it. Its the kind of stuff swept under the rug by the mainstream media, and accusations dismissed by his supporters. Now that he's won there is no need to even address the issue for at least 4 years, and by then the damage could be done.

Oh well. If it's really what Americans want, then its what they deserve, no?
 

Archangel M

Senior Master
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Messages
4,555
Reaction score
154
Vote in tax and spenders out of anger over the failed economy. This should prove interesting.
 

crushing

Grandmaster
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
5,082
Reaction score
134

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
But the website archives it links to, show he was a member of a socialist policy.

If the main socialist party head had said "Obama's one of us", it might mean a loss.
It's in their best interests to deny it, as any other answer would hurt Obama.

I go on what evidence I saw, not what someone else said.
 

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
From http://www.gopusa.com/theloft/?p=802, emphaisis is mine.

As reported by Fox News, during a campaign event in Ohio, Obama was peppered with questions from a local plumber who asked, "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" The plumber was complaining (as I often do) that he is "being taxed more and more for fulfilling the American dream."

Obama's response? He gave the plumber a classic dose of socialism:

"It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success too," Obama responded. "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Spread the wealth around? This is America, isn't it? Redistributing the "wealth" is a classic tenet of Marxist philosophy. Communist China, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and so on.... they all believe in government ownership of basically everything. Hard work, initiative, expertise... none of that is rewarded. Instead, the efforts of the talented and the hard-working are taken from them and given to those who don't work as hard. The result is a decrease in productivity, not to mention the self-fulfillment that comes from being rewarded for a job well done. And this is exactly what Barack Obama wants to do!

Does Obama really understand the essence of America? It is strong because of the American spirit of invention and the bravery to undertake new endeavors. Those at the economic bottom DO NOT create jobs. Those at the economic bottom get hired for jobs. When the economy is robust, more jobs are created, thus more people get hired. There's not a business existing in America today that doesn't want to "do more business." In order to grow, more workers must be hired, and more capital purchased... both of which benefit the economy. Doesn't Obama understand this???


Let's just do a little simple math to see how taxes really work. Let's say there is a person making $50,000/year and paying 15% in federal income tax. Thus, the person's yearly tax burden is $7,500. If someone making $1,000,000/year paid at the same tax rate, they would pay $150,000 in taxes. So, the person making $50,000 pays $7,500, and the person making a million pays $150,000. Those who make more money, pay more in taxes. It's only logical.

However, that is not how a socialist thinks. Rather than each person truly paying "their fair share," the socialist says that the "rich" person should not only pay more because he or she makes more, but they should also pay a higher percentage. So, the person making $1,000,000/year instead pays 35% in taxes for a tax bill of $350,000. That's an extra $200,000 that the government takes out of circulation to pay for their social engineering.

My contention is this, there is basically nothing that the individual with an extra $200k as his/her disposal could do that is "bad" for the economy. The person could save it, thus giving banks more leverage to do business. The person could invest it, thus helping new or established companies grow. The person could donate some to charity, thus helping organizations at the grassroots level do things more efficiently than the federal government could ever hope to. Or, God forbid, the person could simply go out and buy stuff. Two hundred thousand dollars of stuff is a lot of stuff! Imagine all that cash injected into society. Talk about a stimulus package. More goods being purchased, whether it is cars, clothes, furniture, food, or whatever, means that more jobs will be needed to produce those goods. It's as simple as that.

Another point to ponder, new tech costs $$$. Poor people don't buy hybrid cars. Early adopters pay a premium which helps drive costs down in the future. Like DVD players used to be a grand and are now $25. Higher taxes on the "rich" might fund more soup kitchens but it won't help us grow.
 
Top