“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents….” –James Madison
The current “change” in economic policy, as proposed by the latest protagonist of Leftist ideology, can best be summed up in the inimitable words of that great philosopher Yogi Berra: “It’s deja vu all over again.”
Politicos come and go, but the essential philosophical divergence between conservatives and liberals remains as stark today as ever. That disparity is most evident in how conservatives and liberals have always viewed the role of government, and its policies concerning taxation, spending and regulation.
While one may correctly argue that the majority of elected Republicans do not justly honor the conservative principles set forth in the Republican Party Platform, the majority of Democrats certainly march in lockstep behind their Leftist despots, and their electoral lemmings are close behind. (As George Bernard Shaw once noted, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.”)
So what informs the two distinctly different visions from the Right and Left?
Essentially, conservatives, as the root word implies, strive to conserve the principles outlined in our Constitution, and our vision for America requires robust support for individual liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional Judeo-Christian values.
On the other hand, the Left one, liberals, as the root word implies, aspire to liberate the nation from its founding tenets by promoting a “Living Constitution,” as a primary tool for constricting individual liberty, expanding the power of government, regulating all manner of enterprise, gutting national defense and advocating relativism.
Conservative economic policies are founded on the ideals of liberty and freedom advocated in the historic writings of Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say and John Stuart Mill, and further refined by such economists as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, and most recently, the late Milton Friedman. Economic liberty is embodied in the practice of free-enterprise capitalism, which functions best if largely unconstrained by government taxation and regulation.
These are the economic principles advocated by our founders.
As James Madison described it in his era: “[I]f industry and labour are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out.”
Madison certainly understood the threat of centralized government power, writing in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined.” Madison noted further, “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
Anti-federalist Thomas Jefferson similarly observed: “Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread. …[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another.” He noted correctly, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
Jefferson was clear on his disdain for taxes: “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers 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, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
But the Left adheres to a very different group of economic philosophers.
Barack Hussein Obama’s economic plan is nothing more than a remake of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s class-warfare proclamation: “Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”
In fact, Roosevelt’s “principle” was no more American than Obama’s. Not to be confused with the biblical principle in the Gospel according to Luke, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required….” (which, ironically, some Leftist do-gooders cite as justification for socialist policies), Roosevelt was essentially paraphrasing the gospel according to Karl Marx, whose maxim declared, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
Jesus used parables to enlighten the heart, in this case, about our personal responsibility. Marxist methods are a bit more coercive – rejecting God and anointing the state as the supreme deity.
Perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas (the grandfather, incidentally, of Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas), echoed that sentiment: “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”
We are much closer to that day in 2008.
Obama insists we have “an economy that is out of balance, tax policies have been badly skewed, and wages and incomes have flatlined.” To resolve this he says we need a “tax policy making sure that everybody benefits, fair distribution, a restoration of balance in our tax code, money allocated fairly – we’re going to capture some of the nation’s economic growth … and reinvest it.”
Obama says that free enterprise is nothing more than “Social Darwinism, every man or woman for him or herself … tempting idea, because it doesn’t require much thought or ingenuity.”
This week, Obama announced his “Emergency Economic Plan” to seize and redistribute “windfall profits from Big Oil” in the form of $1,000 to “American families.” According to his campaign, “Obama simply asks that big oil companies contribute a reasonable share of the windfall profits they receive from high oil prices over the next five years to pay for emergency assistance for families right now.”
Obamanomics is nothing more than a Marxist echo, and Obama himself a “useful idiot,” a Western apologist for socialist political and economic agendas advocating Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collectivism.
Obama’s campaign theme, like that of all useful idiots before him, is built on “The Politics of Disparity,” class warfare.
Between now and Election Day, Obama will be faking right and looking centrist. He has been invoking his version of another Yogi Berra witticism, “I didn’t really say everything I said.”
Of course, Yogi also said, “You can observe a lot just by watchin’.” In deference our great national heritage and our Founder’s legacy of liberty, one would only hope that a majority of voting Americans are sufficiently observant to see through Obama’s deception.
(For additional constitutional context, read “To secure these rights…” on The Bill of Rights and A “Living Constitution for a Dying Republic”. For additional resources, see The Patriot’s Topical Essays page and our Historic Documents page.)