The latest desperation jab from the McCain campaign accuses Obama of wanting to "spread the wealth."
Thank you, John McCain, for shoving the issue of "redistributing wealth" back into political primetime. Just two problems. You're only a quarter-century or so late -- and you have everything backwards.
When the Bush Administration is in the process of spending $1 trillion in taxpayer dollars to bailout some of the richest people in the country, while refusing to extend unemployment benefits for victims of the financial collapse or force banks to renegotiate predatory loans, I've gotta think that a few of Sarah Palin's "real Americans" are warming to the idea of spreading the wealth.
What Republicans don't want you to know is that redistribution of income and wealth toward the rich has be happening for decades, and it has accelerated since 2000 under a Republican Administration. [http://www.alternet.org/workplace/105653/the_massive_wealth_redistribution_that_doesn%27t_bother_john_mccain/]
The United States currently ranks 4th worst in income inequality, according to a recent report from 30-nation Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development - or OECD. Here's a link to the The U.S. has the 4th worst income inequality, behind Mexico, Turkey and Portugal of the 30 OECD nations. Here's a link to the report summary for the United States.
- The U.S. has the 4th worst income inequality, behind Mexico, Turkey and Portugal of the 30 OECD nations.
- U.S. wealth inequality is even worse. The richest 1% hold 25-33% of the country's total net worth, the top 10% hold 71%. (By comparison, OECD average: top 10% hold 28% of wealth.)
- Redistribution of income by government plays a relatively minor role in the United States. Only in Korea is the effect smaller. This is partly because the level of spending on social benefits such as unemployment benefits and family benefits is low – equivalent to just 9% of household incomes, while the OECD average is 22%.
- The distribution of earnings widened by 20% since the mid-1980s which is more than in most other OECD countries. This is the main reason for widening inequality in America.
- Social mobility is lower in the United States than in other countries like Denmark, Sweden and Australia. Children of poor parents are less likely to become rich than children of rich parents. [AnyIdiot.org: U.S. 4th Worst In Income Inequality]
Republicans preached "trickle down" Reaganomics, but what we got was geyser up. This was no accident or inevitable result of globalization or free market Darwinism. Plutocrats in robes of free market theology designed the system to deliver the goods by changing tax code, trade policy, labor policy and corporate governance, by reducing oversight and regulation, and by attacking safety nets in place since the New Deal.
American Socialism for the Already Rich
"Call it phony universalism, Robin Hood in reverse, or socialism for the rich -- whatever the name, the U.S. government is effectively targeting tax subsidies and legal protections at the more advantaged members of American society. The level of support is enormous, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars each year. For every dollar spent on traditional anti-poverty programs, the United States spends almost as much through the tax code helping individuals who are lucky enough to have health and pension benefits at work or rich enough to buy a nice home (these are often the same people). This is how the United States can spend a ton of money on its welfare system and yet make fewer inroads against poverty and inequality than other affluent nations. Imagine a campaign against child obesity that encouraged kids to exercise daily and eat more Cheetos: U.S. social policy is beset by the same kinds of contradictions.
Some policy makers realize what's going on. When the Bush administration proposed new tax incentives for Health Savings Accounts, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities quickly pointed out that most of these benefits would go to affluent taxpayers. The Democratic authors of the American Dream Initiative, a set of policies designed to expand and strengthen the middle class, were careful last year to propose refundable tax credits for college tuition so that more people with below-average incomes could benefit. But it's not enough to oppose bad ideas, or layer potentially good new programs on top of dysfunctional old ones. We also need to scrutinize existing programs and figure out how they got started, whom they really help, and what we can do to change them. Otherwise, we may find ourselves repeating these same mistakes as we respond to persistent poverty and growing inequality today. Moreover, if we can find ways to spend less on some of these existing programs, we can free up monies to serve more pressing social needs. The goal should not be to exclude the middle class from these programs but to ensure that more governmental benefits are distributed to those who truly need help."
continue reading here: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/49768/
Bill Moyers examines the current financial crisis and growing income divide in the October 24 edition of Bill Moyers Journal.
McCain endorsed a plan similar in principle to Obama's years ago, (as the New York Post reported) so he's got no room to talk as satirized here in this clip from the Daily Show:
But neither McCain nor Obama should be labeled undercover socialists since in the past 150 years there have been innumerable differing socialist programs in America enacted by both parties. For this reason socialism as a doctrine is ill defined, although its main purpose, the establishment of cooperation in place of competition remains fixed. Which by this definition, Sen. Obama, would be labeled a raging capitalist (Plus, seriously folks, would the Economist, the Financial Times, the CEO of Google, Warren Buffet, the Wall Street Journal editor and numerous columnist, and the current Noble prize winner in Economics among countless others be advocating Obama if he were espousing true socialism?! Give me a break. This is just another distraction from the McCain camp).
The effects of socialism in America can still be felt today. According to the Future of Freedom Foundation, any government-owned, -funded, or -subsidized operation is considered to be a socialist program. For example, publicly owned airports, sports arenas or government-funded universities would be considered socialist operations by that definition.
We've long embraced as a nation the positive effects of our dabblings in social insurance programs or "socialism lite" through various government organized programs such as Medicaid. The Social Security Act of 1935, one of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal creations, is seen by many as a socialist program because it is a government-organized and -regulated system. Social Security was designed to provide retirement benefits to citizens through mandatory donations to the program during one's employment years.
In this clip Stephen Colbert interviews the ACTUAL Socialist Candidate for President - Brian Moore who says Obama is "the furthest thing from a socialist candidate:
"It's misleading for Republicans to say that," the local peace activist and perennial candidate said Wednesday from his Spring Hill home. "They know (Obama's) not a socialist."
Now, more than ever, Moore and his party are getting attention thanks to the $700-billion financial bailout and the rhetoric from the Republican presidential ticket. John McCain and Sarah Palin have repeatedly labeled Obama as a socialist in recent days when what they're advocating is socialism (by their definition) for the wealthiest 5% of Americans. Moore said McCain and Palin are abusing the "socialist" label. Likewise, he said Obama's programs wouldn't create a true wealth redistribution.
As more Republicans are latching on to this talking point, it is important to separate spin from reality as the election comes to a close and so much is at stake.
Growing up as a committed Christian in the South, I've been skeptical to the promises of government from either party. I know that politicians alone cannot solve our nations problems, much less save the world. However, I do honestly believe that with Obama elected and the House and Senate in Democratic control that things will become better than the last 8 years. I believe that Obama means what he says and does have a new and healthy vision for the country. I believe things will change, no matter how small, for the better. I know that he and congress will be limited in what they can actually do and that they will disappoint anyone who's hope is in government alone. But one of the biggest things I love about Obama is that he isn't trying to save it himself, but rather build a massive movement of Americans who will step forward inspired, not cynical and apathetic, and try to make change alongside their neighbors.
Like the New Deal, Works Progress or Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" initiative before him, Obama has offered practical solutions to increase individuals involvement in our democracy. From increasing Ameri-Corps and Peace-Corps support, to college tuition in public schools for those who contribute over a 100 hrs/community service, to a new 'New Deal' to repair America's infrastructure and energy independence that in doing so creates new jobs, Obama offers clear points of action. And furthermore, not only will we not depend solely on government to make change, but we will not go it alone in the world under Obama. We'll repair our alliances and restore our nation's leadership role with partners and our moral authority in the world freeing us to actually address areas of injustice that we are impotent to touch now. THESE are solutions. I haven't heard a one from a Republican. Not one. The Republicans have fought hard to distract people from talking about the real issues that they don't believe this election is about. No more. In a few days there will be enough people who will make the better choice and Barack Obama will be our next President of the United States.
Labels: McCain, Obama