Obama and Socialism

This is from this Magazine.

The term ''socialism'' is used in popular discourse as a boo word. A boo word is one that has purely negative emotive meaning and very little cognitive meaning. Socialism replaces private ownership of the major means of production, distribution and exchange by some form of socialised ownership. Production is on the basis of need not on the basis of profit. Redistribution within a capitalist system may be progressive but it is not socialism. Often it is simply a means of stimulating capitalist production as in the recent distribution of tax refund checks by the US government in the hopes of stimulating buying and consumption. Even the partial nationalisation of financial institutions has nothing to do with socialism. It is a rescue plan to bail out the system in a crisis and when the crisis passes the institutions pass back completely into private ownership. Some institutions such as the courts, police, and often the post office, and some infrastructure such as highways usually remain socialised under capitalism since they involve necessary costs rather than profits. However under advanced capitalism even these institutions are privatised as far as possible. The prison system is a good example, and security contractors, even for services formerly done by military and police. Prisons are another example.

October 29, 2008
Obama and socialism
Posted by Daniel Tseghay at 04:13 PM ET
McCain, Palin, and their Republican acolytes have recently taken to calling Barack Obama a socialist. In making that "charge" (apparently socialism is a very bad thing in the States) they point to Obama's progressive, or punitive, depending on how you look at it, income-tax plan. In his plan, people making more than $250,000 will face increased tax rates. The rest will experience tax cuts. The McCain campaign calls this redistributionist and, therefore, socialist.
There are a few things to keep in mind at this point: graduated taxation is not necessarily socialism. It is, at best, only one of the conditions for socialism. The United States is now and has been for quite a while a country with a graduated income-tax rate. Obama merely wants to increase the top marginal income-tax rate from 35 to 39.6, amounting to an incremental progression from an existing income-tax plan - not a major shift into a totally different economic system.
Finally, McCain and Palin should not be throwing stones. Palin, as Alaska's governor, did nothing but redistribute wealth. Here is the New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg on Palin's hypocrisy:
"She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government's activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year's check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269."
And when asked in 2000 why people are being penalized for making more money and if this was socialism, McCain responded: "Here's what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more."
That indeed might be what he really feels. Now why can't he bring himself to let the truth out? He knows Obama is not a socialist and, ultimately, he sort of agrees with Obama's plan, if not the specifics. Where's the "Straight Talk Express" now?More entries on: American Presidential Election


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