Obama And Redistribution

David Harsanyi has an astute piece on Obama’s collectivist tendencies:

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.

If you believe that “fairness” — a childishly subjective idea that ought to be quarantined to playgrounds and Berkeley city council meetings — should be meted out by the autocrats inhabiting Washington, D.C., your faith will be duly rewarded.

You know, once upon a time, the stated purpose of taxation was to fund public needs like schools and roads, assist those who could not help themselves, defend our security and freedom, and, yes, occasionally offer a bailout to sleazy fat cats.

Obama is the first major presidential candidate in memory to assert that taxation’s principal purpose should be redistribution.

For his talk about “hope” and “change”, Sen. Obama’s policy positions are nothing new, and nothing hopeful. They are based fundamentally on envy. “Redistribution” has nothing to do with fairness, and everything to do with greed. It is about demanding the work of others without having done anything oneself. Such an attitude is corrosive to democracy—the moment that the levers of the state can be used to rob from some to give to others, then such concepts as “equal justice under law” become just empty words.

I’m not so sanguine as Harsanyi about the future of this country. That so many Americans have been taken by the rhetoric of redistribution is itself troubling. The lifeblood of a democracy is in its citizenry, and when the citizenry decides to use government to line their own pockets with the wealth of others, they will inevitably take the country down the road to serfdom.

The Founders realized this, of course. That is precisely why they created a government of limited powers, enumerated in the Constitution. They lived in a time of out-of-control government when the Crown “redistributed” wealth from the Colonies to Great Britain. They saw the results of what happens when government controlled everything from the disposition of property to the publication of ideas. The strictures put in place in the Constitution exist to preserve the rights of the individual. Economic redistribution is premised on the idea that the individual has less right to their wealth than does the collective. Economic redistribution and individual rights are at odds, and for one to gain, the other must recede.

This country cannot embrace economic redistributionism and remain a democracy for long. The two will always be at odds. Obama is perhaps but a symptom of a larger sickness, and the cure is a reaffirmation of the principles of constitutional government.