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Posts Tagged ‘egalitarianism’

Obama plan to tax college savings reveals his Marxist core

Posted by Richard on January 20, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama proposed to make community college “free” for everyone. Of course, just like lunch, there is no free community college. The cost, which the administration says will be $60 billion over 10 years (but will probably be several times that), must be borne by someone. His plan to pay for it (leaked in advance of the state of the union address) reveals how thoroughly Marxist Obama is in his core beliefs.

For years, parents (and grandparents) have been urged to save for their kids’ college educations by regularly contributing to a 529 college savings plan. You’ve probably seen the public service announcements countless times on TV. Like a 401k, the contributions grow tax-free in the plan. Like a health savings account, the money isn’t taxed if withdrawn for the intended purpose, in this case college expenses. This is what people have been promised for the past 15 years in order to encourage them to be thrifty and plan for their children’s future.

Obama wants to break that promise. He wants to tax the savings of the thrifty and responsible parents and grandparents in order to give a “free” college education to everyone. It illustrates perfectly that the core belief driving him is the Marxist dictum, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

This is but one of several wealth redistribution schemes being unveiled, supposedly to help “the middle class” at the expense of “the wealthiest.” Like most such schemes, it won’t just take from “the wealthiest” — not that it would be any less evil if it did. My guess is that the typical contributor to a 529 college savings plan is firmly in the middle class, not in the much-maligned 1%.

This contemptible proposal would punish personal responsibility, foresight, and thrift, while rewarding lack of personal responsibility, failure to plan, and dependency. In practical terms, you get less of what you punish and more of what you reward. In moral terms, this is punishing good people precisely for their goodness, and that is vile.

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Michael Moore vs. Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Richard on March 4, 2011

Fat cat (no pun intended) movie mogul Michael Moore, interviewed on something called Grit TV, has declared that the money of wealthy Americans isn't theirs, it's a "natural resource" that the government should seize and redistribute. I can't help but wonder why the interviewer didn't ask what Moore has done to redistribute the tens of millions of dollars of this "natural resource" that reside in his bank accounts.

[YouTube link]

Moore and those like him are guilty of two egregious errors. The first is an error of ignorance (willful ignorance, I'm tempted to say). They seem to believe that wealth (or money, which they seem to think is the same thing) is just a fixed pile of stuff that somehow, magically, exists — and that all that's necessary is deciding how it should be distributed. 

The second error is even more egregious, and it rests on the first — because it requires one to be ignorant of (or indifferent to) how and why wealth is created and even of the fact that there are those who create wealth. It's the moral error of believing that it's OK to take wealth from those who've created it to give it to someone else. As I noted, people like Moore can believe and justify this because they don't view those who've created the wealth as its creators, and thus don't view them as its rightful owners. Wealth just exists, or appears magically like manna falling from heaven, so it's a "natural resource" that we all collectively own.

Peter Wehner contrasted Moore's perspective with that of Abraham Lincoln, and quoted Lincoln: 

I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. …. I want every man to have the chance — and I believe a black man is entitled to it — in which he can better his condition — when he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally to hire men to work for him! That is the true system.

Allowing individuals the chance to better their condition is a legitimate moral claim that citizens demand of government. Government’s goal should be to ensure equality of opportunity instead of equality of outcome; to work toward a society where everyone has a fair shot rather than one where government enforces equality.

This issue — equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome — is one of the great dividing lines between modern conservatism and liberalism. If given the choice between the philosophy of Michael Moore and the philosophy of Abraham Lincoln, my hunch is that the public will side with Lincoln.

I think the public sided with Lincoln in last November's elections. I think — I hope — enough people understand that increasing the total wealth of our society depends on ensuring that people have the opportunity to create wealth. And that the redistributionist philosophy of Moore and those like him destroys that opportunity. And thus makes us all poorer in the long run. 

Besides, it's not just that it would do more harm than good — it's just plain wrong. The person who creates something that didn't exist before is the rightful owner of that creation. Calling it a "natural resource" and redistributing it is theft, plain and simple. 

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Controlling the people and redistributing the wealth

Posted by Richard on March 26, 2010

For a long time, the Socialist Democrats have hidden their true agenda from the American people. No more. They're now so cocky and confident (and so contemptuous of their opposition) that they're dropping the facade of moderation and centrism.

On Tuesday, Rep. John Dingell (SD-MI) was asked on a Michigan radio program why Obamacare would not be fully implemented until 2014 when so many people are dying each year due to lack of insurance (a claim based on a totally bogus study, BTW). Dingell explained that "it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people."

The same day, a New York Times story (I'll link to the excellent fisking at Sweetness & Light) made it clear that the government takeover of the health care industry is "the federal government's biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago" and the centerpiece of Obama's plan to reverse the Reagan Revolution and redistribute wealth. 

And just today, as the Senate was preparing to pass the "reconciliation" bill containing the House "fixes" for Obamacare, Sen. Max Baucus (SD-MT) addressed the Senate as follows: 

Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.

So. Now that it's a done deal, the Socialist Democrats are proudly proclaiming what they previously and angrily denied, what they previously denounced as right-wing lies and fear-mongering: the government takeover of the health care industry is intended to control the people and redistribute the wealth. It's intended to turn citizens into subjects and to ensure equality of misery.

They're slightly less crazy-sounding, but fundamentally not all that different from Hugo Chavez.

But don't worry about the constitutionality.  Rep. John Conyers (SD-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and noted constitutional scholar, has assured us that it's all authorized by the Constitution's "Good and Welfare Clause."

Costa Rica's looking better all the time. Or maybe Honduras, where they still respect the rule of law.

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Empathy vs. the rule of law

Posted by Richard on May 28, 2009

At, William Warren succinctly summarized the problem with Sonia Sontomayor in this cartoon:

"What About the Constitution?" by William Warren

Dr. Thomas Sowell addressed the issue in greater depth in his latest column

Barack Obama’s repeated claim that a Supreme Court justice should have “empathy” with various groups has raised red flags that we ignore at our peril — and at the peril of our children and grandchildren.

“Empathy” for particular groups can be reconciled with “equal justice under law” — the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court — only with smooth words. But not in reality. President Obama used those smooth words in introducing Judge Sotomayor but words do not change realities.

… Speaking at the University of California at Berkeley in 2001, she said that the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.”

Moreover, this was not something she lamented. On the contrary, she added, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

No doubt the political spinmasters will try to spin this to mean something innocent. But the cold fact is that this is a poisonous doctrine for any judge, much less a justice of the Supreme Court.

That kind of empathy would for all practical purposes repeal the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees “equal protection of the laws” to all Americans.

The Sotomayor nomination, the railroading of bondholders, the massive expansions of wealth redistribution, and countless other actions and pronouncements have made it crystal clear that Barack Obama doesn't value the Constitution or "equal justice under law" very much. He gladly tosses them out when they interfere with his desire to expand the power of government and forcibly impose greater equality of outcomes. As Friedrich A. Hayek observed, the latter is incompatible with the former: 

From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.

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2081 set to premier

Posted by Richard on May 14, 2009

Last August, I posted about 2081: Everyone Will Finally Be Equal, the theatrical short film based on Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron. According to producer Thor Halvorrsen and director Chandler Tuttle (via email), it's finally coming out:

Many of you have written to us over the past few weeks and months asking when 2081 would be released in theaters or made available on DVD, and I am thrilled to say that we finally have an answer: 2081 has been accepted to the Seattle International Film Festival and will be premiering on Friday, May 29th as part of the Shorts Program's opening night festivities:

2081 World Premiere
Seattle International Film Festival
ShortsFest Opening Night

Friday May 29th, 7pm

SIFF Cinema
321 Mercer Street
Seattle, WA

If you're going to be in Seattle, you can get tickets at the SIFF website. The rest of us will probably have to wait until October, when it becomes available via DVD and download. Watch the trailer at the 2081 website and if you're interested, sign up for email updates.

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If it redistributes like a duck …

Posted by Richard on November 4, 2008

David Harsanyi (emphasis added):

Obama laughs off the charge of socialist behavior — and to be fair, socialism isn't the precise term to affix to his ideas. It's more like Robin Hood economics. On a recent campaign stop, Obama joked that, by the end of the week, McCain would be accusing him "of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten."

A funny line. But, of course, Obama's lofty intellect must comprehend the fundamental difference between sharing your G.I. Joe with a friend and having a bully snatch your G.I. Joe for the collective, prepubescent good. It's the difference between coercion and free association and trade. In practical terms, it's the difference between government cheese and a meal at Ruth's Chris.

Now, I'm not suggesting Obama intends to transform this nation into 1950s-era Soviet tyranny or that he will possess the power to do so. 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. 

Amen! Read the whole thing. Then vote as if our future depends on it.

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A pretty impressive plumber

Posted by Richard on October 16, 2008

Regarding Samuel Joseph "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, Scott at Conservatism Today got it about right:

Seriously. This guy is the epitome of American values, hard work and self-sufficiency – and the MSM is going to do everything in its power to destroy him. Just remember, they are destroying you at the same time. Favorite line: "I have parents, I don't need another set of parents called the government." Next favorite: "We are the greatest country in the world, stop apologizing for it."

Here's another great Joe the Plumber quote (from Marina Lee):

“It’s not right for someone to decide you made too much—that you’ve done too good and now we’re going to take some of it back…That’s just completely wrong.”

Here's some Joe the Plumber video. The first one (1:31) is from his home last night after the debate (via The Barton Bulletin).


This one (3:57) is from his press conference this morning.


Where do we order the "I support Joe the Plumber" t-shirts and bumper stickers? I wish McCain (and many other Republicans) sounded this good. 

A friend commented that many recent newsmakers (like Dodd, Frank, Pelosi, Obama …) have reminded her of Ayn Rand's villains, but that Joe reminded her of John Galt. That's a stretch. I suspect Joe is more of an Eddie Willers. But, damn, we need lots more Eddie Willers in the world. 

BTW, did you pooh-pooh Scott's remark above about the MSM going after Joe? The effort to dig up dirt on Joe is already well under way. Charlie Martin (emphasis added):

Okay, according to Jonathan Martin (no relation as far as I know), a Politico reporter has found a tax lien against Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, who is apparently “Joe the Plumber.” For about $1200.

Now, the county webserver is being wiped out by people trying to look at that docket, so it’s a little hard to find out the whole story — like, was it paid? Was it part of a pending tax dispute? — but in the mean time, think about this for a minute. This guy had the temerity to actually argue with Obama over a point, and get attention — so now national political websites/newspapers are sending reporters to search his tax records?

I mean, at least it used to be campaign operatives doing this kind of thing.

Martin soon followed up with another example, and then another

Now, according to Allahpundit, they've dug up "paperwork irregularities" that may put Joe out of work. And Allahpundit wondered (emphasis added):

Should have known better than to ask a media darling a tough question before your affairs were in order, Joe. Exit question: The law’s the law and it is, after all, his own fault for not having the papers he needs. If, say, an illegal alien had asked McCain a tough question and some righty media source responded by bringing his status to light, would the left feel the same way?

Anyone who dares criticize Obama must be punished, and the press is eager to help. I feel sorry for Joe Wurzelbacher. The left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) are conducting an anal probing of this decent, hard-working man and won't rest until they destroy him. 

I'm going to keep my eyes open for a Joe Wurzelbacher legal defense fund. I suspect he'll need one, and if so, I'll help.

UPDATE: Another roundup of how they're trying to destroy Joe the Plumber. (HT: Instapundit)

UPDATE: Instapundit noted that "They've done more investigations into Joe the Plumber in 24 hours than they've done on Barack Obama in two years . . . ." Read the whole thing. This has quickly gotten disgusting.

UPDATE (10/18): CafePress has "I heart Joe the Plumber" shirts. (HT: Instapundit) But I don't want to "heart" Joe. I want to support Joe. Don't miss my new post about Joe and related matters.

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Posted by Richard on August 18, 2008

Harrison Bergeron is easily my favorite Kurt Vonnegut story, and I really liked the 1995 TV adaptation. Now, The Moving Picture Institute ("Promoting Freedom Through Film") is coming out with a theatrical short based on the story entitled 2081: Everyone Will Finally Be Equal. It looks and sounds terrific (the Kronos Quartet performs the original score). Here's the description:

Based on the short story Harrison Bergeron by celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut, 2081 depicts a dystopian future in which, thanks to the 212th Amendment to the Constitution and the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General, everyone is finally equal… The strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains. It is a poetic tale of triumph and tragedy about a broken family, a brutal government, and an act of defiance that changes everything.

Go to the 2081 website, watch the trailer, and sign up for email updates regarding screenings in your area.

Also, check out The Moving Picture Institute website and sign up for their email updates. Here's some background about the organization:

Founded in 2005 by human rights advocate Thor Halvorssen, the Moving Picture Institute is unlike any other foundation dedicated to promoting the ideal of liberty. At MPI, we believe that film, more effectively than any other medium, can bring the idea of freedom to life. In keeping with that belief, we are working to ensure that film becomes a center of genuinely democratic art in the coming years. Our goal is to guarantee that film's unique capacity to give shape to abstract principles—to make them move and breathe—is used to support and promote liberty. Toward that end, we fund films from development through post-production, support up-and-coming filmmakers, and serve as a high-level intern placement service.

Historically, the film industry has been largely unconcerned with developing a distinctive and nuanced portrait of deep-seated American values such as free speech, freedom of association, and the free enterprise system. Such values have been defined and defended almost exclusively in print and through oral argument. But as visual media become increasingly prevalent, we depend more heavily upon movies for our philosophical, moral, and social guidance. If the ideal of freedom is to endure—if it is to maintain its vitality and relevance in our society—it must find its way into film, our most vital, relevant, and far-reaching art form. Freedom must be seen to be believed.

MPI is going on my list of organizations to support. How about you?

(HT: Andrew Roth)

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Is failure no longer an option?

Posted by Richard on July 22, 2008

Last week, Larry Kudlow went on a great rant against bailouts:

Why does it seem to me that all Washington ever seems to talk about these days is bailouts? Bailout Freddie Mac. Bailout Fannie Mae. Bailout Wall Street. Bailout homeowners. Is it possible in America today that no one is allowed to fail?

You know, Phil Gramm was right. We are a nation of whiners. No one wants to believe that failure is an option anymore. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Or learning from your mistakes? Or going through transformative difficulties that just might change your life and your behavior? But it seems like failure is off the board nowadays and that it’s government’s job to rescue everybody.

Read the whole thing.

But Larry shouldn't be surprised. Ever since the 60s radicals grew up (if you can call it that), they've been trying to eliminate grades, scorekeeping in sports, valedictorians, … They strive to eliminate all risk, embrace the "precautionary principle," and keep an army of litigation lawyers employed trying to make sure someone pays for every unfortunate event in the universe.

They argue that those who succeed in our economy are just "winners of life's lottery." So clearly, those who fail are just "losers in life's lottery." And they see government's primary purpose as eliminating (or at least ameliorating) the difference between the "winners" and the "losers."

They either are ignorant of or reject Joseph Schumpeter's argument that "Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism" and the critical factor in its success. Most of them, even if persuaded that Schumpeter was right, would gladly give up the additional wealth and far higher standard of living for everyone that creative destruction makes possible, righteously preferring that we all be poorer, but more equal.

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Obama promises to remake America

Posted by Richard on June 4, 2008

I heard this portion of Obama's Tuesday night victory speech on the radio today, and I was chilled by both his words and the intensity of the adulation, cheering, and screaming by the crowd:

Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that, generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless…

… this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…

… this was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

This was the moment, this was the time when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.

Wow. Just wow. Did he ride in on a white horse? 

Set aside for the moment the absurd suggestion that until St. Barack's triumphant arrival, "we" didn't care for the sick or provide jobs for the jobless. What really disturbs me is someone whose mentors, spiritual advisers, friends, allies, and close associates include the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Frank Marshall Davis, Alice Palmer, Rashid Khalidi, and Raila Odinga (to name just a few*) promising to "remake" America.

I'm glad I ordered some of those bumper stickers

* You can find info on these and more at Obama WTF — check the links in the sidebar under headings 2a-2d. Or Google the names.

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Cocky and dumb

Posted by Richard on April 3, 2007

There's still more evidence that American kids don't measure up to their foreign counterparts, and according to Ralph Reiland, American kids are cocky and dumb by design:

Only 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States, according to the latest annual study on education by the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The problem is that the surveyed Korean students are better at math than the American students.

Their kids are unsure and good, in short, while ours are cocky and dumb — not exactly a good position for the U.S. to occupy in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Reiland sees this as the predictable consequence of educators' aversion to competition and embrace of unearned self-esteem. They've chosen to promote "unskilled self-satisfaction" over competence:

…  For those in American education with an aversion to competition, an aversion to the thought of winners and losers, the idea of putting self-esteem ahead of academic performance was an easy concept to adopt.

It's like those no-score ball games. The goal is good feelings. Everyone plays, no one loses, every kid gets a trophy. It's like the teachers' contracts — no scorecard, no linking of pay hikes to performance, everyone's a winner.

It's a mind-set that sees score-keeping as too judgmental, too oppressive, too capitalist, too likely to deliver inequality and injured self-images, whether it's with pay or on the ball field.

In a related development, Seattle's Hilltop Children's Center recently banned Legos because they "teach capitalism" and promote private property rights:

According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."

The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."

They claimed as their role shaping the children's "social and political understandings of ownership and economic equity … from a perspective of social justice."

This is the same contemptible mindset made even more explicit.

The field of education is largely in the hands of extreme egalitarians and collectivists. They despise winning, achievement, and success because they see every instance of those things as a reproach. They loathe individualism because it encourages people to differentiate themselves from the herd in which they think we should all be submerged. They hate liberty because it frees some to rise above others, and they believe we should all be constrained to the level of the least of us.

Nothing would do more for the future of liberty than wresting control of the schools of education from the socialist scum who currently dominate the field. Of course, it would help if those wresting control had a coherent philosophy that celebrated the individual, freedom, and reason, instead of the incoherent, unprincipled mess that is today's conservatism.

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