Friday, October 31, 2008

Barack Obama and Economic Selfishness

Should Americans share the wealth?

Are people greedy and selfish if they believe that what they've earned is not something goverment should be able to take away and give to others?

Barack Obama answers yes to both questions:

Note something else as well: Recall Gallup's new survey showing that 75 percent of Democrats believe that "government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich."

Economic Redistribution

That finding is actually a later item in the poll. Gallup also asked, "Do you feel that the distribution of money and wealth in this country is fair, or do you feel money and wealth should be more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people?"

Fifty-eight percent of those polled agreed that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed.

Share the Wealth?

There's a couple of points of significance here:

For one thing, the video provides more evidence that Obama's not been honest in stating his economic positions. He's speak of tax fairness (when his proposal is anything but), and turns around and says that those who work hard to earn a living are "selfish" if they refuse to let government confiscate their income for redistribution. Second, the response on the "money and wealth" question (58 percent) isn't necessarily an indication that the country has abandoned the traditional political culture of individual liberty and opportunity in favor of equality of result. The polling sample is going to have at least 35 percent Democratic respondents, who favor income distribution and roughly 25 percent or so independents, about half of which who are likely Democratic-leaners.

Those two groups combined constitute a majority in favor of economic redistribution. So while in some sense, the data show a shift of the "political center" farther to the left, the change is not a dramatic break with the notion of America as a moderate, center-right nation overall.

Economic crisis and worries about economic security are contributing to a greater sense that government should be more interventionist in providing an economic safety-net. Whether these findings mean the country is undergoing a fundamental leftward lurch remains in doubt (despite
some arguments to the contrary).