Sunday, November 02, 2008

On Wealth Redistribution

I expected McPalin to campaign on the evils of "tax and spend" but I am absolutely flabbergasted that my fellow Americans have so readily latched onto such a one-sided definition of "wealth redistribution" as is currently being associated with Obama.

How can anyone be so seemingly unaware that the "free market" we love to worship naturally results in wealth redistribution as well, such as a massive concentration of wealth at the top? How can they be oblivious to the fact that as the rich suck dollars out of the working class, they use their growing power to rig the system to ensure their continued success at the expense of everyone else? How can Americans reject the idea -- to their own detriment -- that a reassertion of balance is occasionally necessary to the equation? Taxes and targeted tax cuts and tax deductions are all forms of wealth redistribution. They're economic tools. It's silly for McPalin to attribute wealth redistribution to Obama like it's some kind of terrible sin.

Concentrated wealth was the hallmark of the Gilded Age as well as the roaring 20's. It was the legacy of the Reagan era and we've seen it again in the financial industry boom of the past decade. Concentration of wealth is a natural outcome of laissez fair capitalism. Fortunately for us, our economy has never been what we might call "pure bred". Over the years (through actions both intended and accidental), socialist elements have been introduced to restore balance, waxing and waning in cycle. Our economy has been dynamic enough to tolerate such influences without succumbing to them entirely, swinging like a giant pendulum intent on finding economic equilibrium.

We should be appreciative of the economic tools at our disposal. We should work to increase our objective understanding of the rules and functional boundaries of this hybrid economic system. What we should not do is demonize the concept out of ignorance and fear like a bunch of 17th century Salem witch hunters.

I understand the proud tradition of doing for yourself. I understand the natural desire to ascend to personal wealth and prosperity. Believe me, I have no desire to adopt extreme socialist economic models, most all of which are deeply flawed. For the most part, capitalism has proven to be an adequate foundation for our economy. But come on... let's be smart about the reality of the capitalist model and its limitations.

And most importantly, let's never confuse the economic with the political. What Obama is proposing -- stabilizing the middle class -- is smart in a consumer driven economy but it's not without cost. Repealing Bush's tax cut for the upper tier is probably the right thing to do (the tax cuts DURING WAR TIME were irresponsible anyway).


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