Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama - wealth redistribution bombshell

Michelle Malkin reports:
The blogosphere is buzzing about this video posted on YouTube Sunday night. It’s Barack Obama musing about how best to redistribute wealth in America in a Chicago Public Radio interview in 2001.

Not whether, but how: Through the courts or through legislation?

A caller asks The One to explain how he would do “reparative economic work.” Obama gives the legislative route two thumbs up as his preferred method of “breaking free of the constraints” placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution and then burbles about cobbling together the “actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change.”

Joe The Plumber, you barely scratched the surface:

Obama said the following:

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.


  1. There are two elements to this:

    First, the redistribution of wealth idea.

    Second, he's defining rich vs poor ethnic groups, not individuals. Whites don't want to be taxed to support blacks. One hears the whole "Black Value System" talk one would expect from a member and convert of Trinity Church.


  2. First of all, one forgets that the President of the U.S. doesn't have unlimited powers. He's held in check by Congress and the Supreme Court.

    Secondly, this video probably went over the head of most of his supporters.

  3. In my town of 180,000 people, 3600 people are homeless, living in the streets and being fed by local churches.

    In my town, there are currently 200 additional homes in foreclosure and hundreds of rental properties involved in eviction proceedings. One city official estimates that this will leave an additional 1500 people homeless in the coming (winter) months.

    About 3.5 million US residents (about 1% of the population), including 1.35 million children, have been homeless for a significant period of time. Over 37,000 homeless individuals (including 16,000 children) stay in shelters in New York every night.

    Some 38 million people in America are considered "food insecure" -- there are 38 million people in America who live below the poverty line, which is based on an amount of money thought to be required to provide a very minimum lifestyle. In 2005, $19,350 was the poverty threshold for a family of four, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

    People go hungry because of unexpected events, such as paying for an emergency visit to the hospital, a car repair, or the loss of a job. So you can be just above the poverty line, and any one of those circumstances can push you into poverty.

    In 2007 there were 48 million Americans who were without health insurance. Four out of five uninsured Americans are employed. Either their employers do not give health coverage as a benefit or they are self employed and cannot afford to pay health insurance premiums which are about 14k annually for a family. Most plans also carry large deductibles (mine is 10,000 per year) in addition to the premiums.

    When a family is living close to the edge, and a doctor visit is necessary, cuts will be made in the consumption of food because food is purchased with cash. If you don't have a credit card, then you have to pay cash for food. The majority of people don't have a monthly charge account at the local grocery store.

    There also are problems of access and distribution. Food is expensive (up 15-20% in the past year), especially if you work at a minimum wage job. Minimum wage is $6.55 per hour; 13,624 per year.

    There is a definite geography of poverty. The highest rates of poverty are found in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, the U.S.-Mexico border and Indian reservations. (The majority of welfare recipients are white, non Hispanic).

    Health care is a particular problem in poor, rural communities where families often have no choice but to use the emergency room for routine health care which is very expensive. Car repairs are another significant and unexpected expense. If the family car needs repair and it is the end of the month, when cash reserves are low, a family will have no choice but to reduce food intake to get the car back on the road in order to go to work.

    According to the USDA, in 2004 the average monthly food stamp benefit was about $86 per person and about $200 per household. This average of $200 is just over one-third of what the USDA recommends a family of four should expect to spend on food using its Thrifty Food Plan.

    Does the program stop hunger? It reduces hunger, but it probably does not eliminate hunger if the family lives at or below the poverty line. Also, according to the USDA, the number of families who received food stamps declined dramatically between 1995 and 2000. This was a time when the poverty rate increased. Thus, just when people needed assistance most, the program was scaled back. After passage of the Welfare Reform Act in the early 1990s, the government cut back on who was eligible for food stamps and made it harder to qualify for the program.

    In many places in the country, fewer than half of the people who are eligible for food stamps actually receive them.

    The US is now #44 in infant mortality, a measure of overall health of its citizens, which is the worst of any First World nation.

    The US is the only First World nation that does not provide universal health care.

    The whole nature and purpose of taxation IS the redistribution of wealth. The US is not now and has never been a purely capitalistic country. There has always been an income tax, there has always been the redistribution of wealth from the wealthiest segment of our population to those who are most unfortunate.

    Hashem destroyed Sodom for the sins of carelessness toward the homeless, hungry and impoverished that went hand in hand with their wanton hedonism and sexual sins.

    Just as Lot was admonished for staying in Sodom, as a Jew and a human being, I don't want to live in a country that does not take good care of its hungry, elderly, sick and children.

  4. Actually, the income tax was created by Constitutional amendment around 1912. There have always been local taxes, though.

  5. Jersey Girl said...

    There has always been an income tax,

    While I am dubious about the validity of much of Jersey Girl's comment, this statement is simply not true.

    The first income tax (at a rate of 3%) in the United States was a special tax established to fund the Civil War. Only with the passage of the 16th Amendement in 1913 was it politically possible to impose income tax in any broader fashion. (The same is basically true for the states as well. The state of Wisconsin was the first to establish a modern income tax in 1911.)

    there has always been the redistribution of wealth from the wealthiest segment of our population to those who are most unfortunate.

    If you are talking about government run redistribution (as opposed to private charity) then this is also simply not true. The entire concept of government mandated redistribution of wealth was an innovation of the socialist/progressive/fascist movement that arose in the period surrounding the turn of the 20th century (the terms are almost synonymous in connection to economic issues).

    The very idea would have been anathema to the American founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote:
    To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his father has acquired too much, in order to spare to others who (or whose fathers) have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "to guarantee to everyone a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."

  6. While Jersey girl keeps up her propaganda on behalf of team Obama HaRasha, it would behoove every Jew who cares about Israel safety and existence to take a look at the following serious presentation by syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro who has put together a very good video that all friends of Israel should see before voting. You can watch the video, which is split into 3 parts, at the following YouTube URLs:

    (1) The Jewish Case Against Barack Obama: Part I:

    When it comes to Israel, just who is Barack Obama? (9 minutes):

    (2) The Jewish Case Against Barack Obama: Part II:
    Barack Obama's Friends. (5 minutes):

    (3) The Jewish Case Against Barack Obama: Part III:

    Barack Obama's Vice President: Joe Biden (6 minutes):

  7. This has nothing to do with civil rights.

    It's about opportunity stupid!!!

    Collin Powell is the chairman of the biggest and most powerful media corporation in the world. He also happens to be black. Only in the American system of opportunity could a black man get so far. Unlike all of these so called socially progressive countries like Sweden, France and even Canada, minorities in the US have far more opportunities to build themselves up.

    Obama can put those facts into his pipe and smoke them. G-d puleez keep this we shall overcome marxist out of the white house!!

  8. Canada's socialized medical system has actually created a two tracked health care system.

    Many cancer patients who can afford it, opt for timely medical treatment in the United States. Others risk dying while waiting from long waiting lists in order to get the proper treatment.Then there are the emergency rooms that are chronically understaffed because of budgetary constraints. You get what you pay for.

  9. Recenly in the papers there was an article about people in the US whe die of cancer because they cannot get ANY medical care.

    My sister is a widow with 2 MS degrees, who needed to go on disability for 3 years due to a congenital heart problem.

    When my niece suffered a life threatening kidney problem while my sister was on Medicaid, the only kidney doctor who would take Medicaid to treat my niece was an hour away by car. But my sister could not afford a car on her disability check!!

    When my sister finally arranged for my brother to drive them to the doctor, the doctor then told them there was a ONE YEAR wait for an appointment because he is the only kidney doctor in the whole Southern half of the state who takes Medicaid.

    My niece had to wait and B"H, she did not lose a kidney as my sister did a few years ago.

    My friends and family in Israel and Canada do not go without necessary medical care as we do in the US.

    Even those in the US who are insured (like me) often find that doctors will not take their insurance and they have to pay thousands of dollars in cash for needed care.

    I once took my baby to the ER because she had a swollen lump in her throat that was making her gurgle to breathe. The nearest hospital was a private hospital and I showed them my Cigna card at the door. They stopped while my baby was gurgling and bluish to call the insurance company to verify that I was really covered.

    They then decided that they did not want to accept my policy because they did not like the carrier and told me to go to the nearest public hospital.
    B'H my daughter was okay in the end, but at the time, I was terrified as I drove to the next hospital.

    My health care policy has a 10k deductible but I pay only 6k per year. My brother pays 15k per year for a policy with a 2k per person deductible. My policy is a bargain, but it is hard for middle class people to lay out thousands of dollars for tests and other necessary medical services.

    Another family member just went for blood work for a platelet problem. It was 3k just for the tests. This was not initially covered by the health insurance policy that decided the tests were elective. After a time consuming, aggravating fight, the insurance company did cover the tests, but this should not have been necessary.

    There is a reason why the US is #44 in infant mortality a measure of the overall health of the nation (WHO 2007), and it is lack of accessible medical care.

    Considering that every other First World nation in the world has universal medical care and is doing so much better, I do not understand how this topic could eve be a debate. Statistics do not lie.

  10. > Statistics do not lie!

    Hah! HAH!

    And I thought you were a robot with no sense of humour!


    "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is part of a phrase attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and popularised in the United States by Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." The statement refers to the persuasive power of numbers, the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that do not support their positions.

  12. From 1791 to 1802, the United States government was supported by internal taxes on distilled spirits, carriages, refined sugar, tobacco and snuff, property sold at auction, corporate bonds, and slaves.

    Sales taxes and usage taxes ARE a form of income tax.

    Look at your utility bills. Mine is about 35% taxes (Federal, State and local), this is an income tax (ie. the more you earn, the bigger your house, the more power you use).

    Sales tax is 8 1/2% in many US cities. This is also an income tax (the more you earn, the more you buy, the more you pay).

    Then there are luxury taxes (ie dining out, hotels, cars, airports etc). These are also income taxes (they tax the wealthy on the goods they use the most).

    There are also so-called "vice taxes" (ie alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling etc). Since these are non-necessities generally used more by the wealthy, these luxury taxes are also considered income taxes.

    Property taxes are another form of income tax as wealthier home owners pay for the services used by lower income homeowners and renters.

    There as ALWAYS been redistribution of wealth via taxation in the US.

    The high cost of the War of 1812 brought about the nation's first sales taxes on gold, silverware, jewelry, and watches. In 1817, however, Congress did away with all internal taxes, relying on tariffs on imported goods to provide sufficient funds for running the government.

    Again, these luxury and usage taxes were a form of income taxation as these goods are used by the wealthy.

    Throughout the history of our country rising taxes were a given until on Oct. 22, 1986, President Reagan signed into law the Tax Reform Act of 1986, one of the most far-reaching reforms of the United States tax system since the adoption of the income tax.

    The top tax rate on individual income was lowered from 50% to 28%, the lowest it had been since 1916. Tax preferences were eliminated to make up most of the revenue. In an attempt to remain revenue neutral, the act called for a $120 billion increase in business taxation and a corresponding decrease in individual taxation over a five-year period.

    Then came Black Monday, the October 19,1987,stock market crash and the failure of the Savings and Loans which economists DIRECTLY attribute to the Tax Reform Act of 1986. And this is why:

    By enacting 26 U.S.C. § 469 (relating to limitations on deductions for passive activity losses and limitations on passive activity credits) to remove many tax shelters, especially for real estate investments, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 significantly decreased the value of many such investments which had been held more for their tax-advantaged status than for their inherent profitability. This contributed to the end of the real estate boom of the early to mid '80s and facilitated the Savings and Loan crisis. Prior to 1986, much real estate investment was done by passive investors. It was common for syndicates of investors to pool their resources in order to invest in property, commercial or residential. They would then hire management companies to run the operation. TRA 86 reduced the value of these investments by limiting the extent to which losses associated with them could be deducted from the investor's gross income. This, in turn, encouraged the holders of loss-generating properties to try and unload them, which contributed further to the problem of sinking real estate values. This turmoil and repositioning in real estate markets was caused not by changes in market conditions.

    I realize that it is difficult for those who are not economists or in finance, but the more the government spends, the stronger the economy and the more prosperous the nation.

    It's basic Keynesian theory and history has proven it to be true since John Maynard Keynes' theories helped both Great Britain and the US out of the Great Depression.

  13. Jersey Girl said...

    "Sales taxes and usage taxes ARE a form of income tax."

    Only in the loosest possible use of the term. One of the main factors to consider in taxation is how the tax impacts on people's behavior. Taxation, beyond a very minimal level, always has the tendency to reduce that which is taxed. (Thus, one of the primary justifications for "sin" taxes is precisely to reduce the prevalence of said activity.)

    Taxing income is, ultimately, taxing work. Such taxes makes work and business less profitable and makes less money available to the truly productive members of society (as opposed to government employees). Such taxes place a major impediment before true economic growth.

    This is why reducing taxes can, and frequently does, result in a net increase in tax revenues for the state.

    Sales and usage taxes, while definitely not beneficial to the economy, are not as harmful as income tax because they don't directly attack the value of work. (They do attack it indirectly, in that they reduce the value of the money you have earned.)

    In short, taxing income/work reduces income/work, while taxing spending reduces spending. Both are harmful to the economy, but the first is far worse (because reducing spending encourages saving and investment, which both provide some benefits to the economy).

    All taxation is, at best, a necessary evil, but some forms of taxation are more harmful than others.

    ...the more the government spends, the stronger the economy and the more prosperous the nation.
    It's basic Keynesian theory and history has proven it to be true...

    While Keynesian economics is basic dogma to left-wing economists (Keynes himself was very ideologically left-wing), it is far from universally accepted. The two best known critics are Milton Friedman (Nobel Prize in Economics, 1976), who argued that such policies are extremely harmful to the economy, and Friedrich Hayek (Nobel Prize in Economics, 1974), who, in his classic book The Road to Serfdom argued that such policies inevitably result in the erosion of freedom.

    Economists generally became much more skeptical of Keynesian economics during the "stagflation" of the 1970s, being that "stagflation" (inflation combined with economic stagnation and high unemployment) was essentially impossible according to Keynesian economics.

    Much of the appeal of Keynesian economics was based on the general perception that the centrally planned economy of the Soviet Union was an extraordinarily succesful model that the West should emulate. Keynesian policies were an application of central economic planning in a way that was, at least initially, palatable to the Western world.


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