Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Socialism, Communism, Marxism, Obamaism?

Not so much.

But that won't stop Conservatives like David Limbaugh, in his latest article, from claiming that Obama is a threat to capitalism.
I don't use the term "Marxist," in connection with President Barack Obama's policies, lightly or even to inflame, but to express my genuine fear that if we don't put the brakes on his agenda to remake America in his image, we'll end up both enslaving and bankrupting America by the end of his tenure.
Well except that Obama isn't really much of a Marxist. Heck he's not even a socialist according to an actual socialist, Billy Wharton, in an editorial at the Washington Post.
The funny thing is, of course, that socialists know that Barack Obama is not one of us. Not only is he not a socialist, he may in fact not even be a liberal. Socialists understand him more as a hedge-fund Democrat -- one of a generation of neoliberal politicians firmly committed to free-market policies.

. . . I doubt that any of Obama's policies will someday appear in the annals of socialist history. The president has, however, been assigned the unenviable task of salvaging a capitalist system intent on devouring itself. The question is whether he can do so without addressing the deep inequalities that have become fundamental features of American society.
That's not to say that Obama isn't a threat to the kind of America that the Limbaugh brothers believe in. He is. Robert Reich, in an article over at Salon, underlined how Obama's plans, although incremental and perhaps even timid, reflect an underlying change in our national economic policy.
But there's another way to view Obamanomics -- as an economic philosophy exactly the opposite of the one that's dominated America for more than a quarter century.

The basic idea of Reaganomics was that the economy grows from the top down. Lower taxes on the wealthy make them work harder and invest more, and the benefits trickle down to everyone else. Rarely in economic history has a theory been more tested in the real world and proven so wrong. In point of fact, nothing trickled down. After the Reagan tax cuts, increases in the median wage slowed, adjusted for inflation. After George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, the median wage actually dropped. Meanwhile, most of the income went to the top. In 1980, just before the Reagan revolution, the richest 1 percent took home 9 percent of total national income. But by 2007, the richest 1 percent was taking home 22 percent.

Obamanomics, by contrast, holds that an economy grows best from the bottom up. Obama's program increases taxes on the top and uses the proceeds to raise the living standard of average Americans by giving them lower taxes, better schools and more affordable health insurance. That may not seem very radical, but compared with the last quarter century it's revolutionary.
He's not wrong. Reagen, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2 all operated under the principle that government was at best inefficient and at worse a straight jacket; they all operated on the principle that taking of the wealthy and corporations was job number one. And we've paid the price for that political theory.

No comments: