Monday, October 20, 2008

About that socialism meme

Ross Kaminsky defends his silly accusations that Obama is somehow a "socialist" by brandishing a Karl Marx quote on progressive taxes. In Ross' world moving the top tax rate from 35% to somewhere in the neighborhood of 39% is "socialism."

Is it any wonder that the American people are about to thoroughly reject the modern GOP for the second straight election? We're witnessing a once in a generation political realignment. A realignment which is being fueled in no small part by the public's frustration with 30 years of the GOP's upwards redistribution of middle and working class wealth. In the face of crisis all Ross and his ilk can do is throw around the same tired cliches and ridiculous memes. I'd say that it's embarrassing but it's clear that Kaminsky has no capacity for shame or embarrassment.

Does Ross really want to point to progressive taxes as a harbinger of creeping socialism or even communism? Guess who else is a supporter of progressive taxation? Adam Smith. The free market Heartland Institute sums up Smith's position thusly,

The first of Smith’s tax maxims, equity, reflects his belief that the wealthiest benefit most from government and can most afford to pay. “The rich should contribute to the public expense not only in proportion to their revenue,” Smith believed, “but something more than in that proportion.” Equity, according to Smith, requires progressive taxation.

There is nothing controversial or socialistic about progressive taxes. The father of modern capitalism, the man who brought us the concept of "the invisible hand" believed firmly in progressive taxes. In Bizarro-Kaminsky-World Adam Smith is a dangerous socialist. Think about that for a second and think about how far out of the mainstream of economic thought Kaminsky really is.

These cries of socialism are, of course, patently ridiculous. Whats shocking is that Kaminsky and his ilk somehow believe that the American public can be scared off by the buzz words and battles of the 20th century. The fact of the matter is the median age of voters today is 44 years old. They are essentially a post-Vietnam generation. They have lived almost half of their lives without the threat of the Cold War and creeping communist influence. This is at least part of the reason why you are seeing traditional GOP talking points about the culture wars and socialism falling totally flat this year.

The other factor is that economic reality has finally caught up with Reaganomics. When you're worried about losing your job, your home, your pension and your health care some glibertarian crowing about "socialism" on the internet just comes across as utterly ridiculous . When it's not just the wing-nut base but in fact the GOP candidate himself bandying about that accusation the candidate just confirms the creeping notion that he is a dinosaur of the 20th century. The GOP is tilting at 1960's windmills.

Eric at The Edge of the American West points us towards more from Smith.

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