Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Acting Like a Christian in an Election Year, part 4

Today I was talking on the phone with my good friend Princess K of the Milky Way, and our conversation caused me to think about some of the language of fear that continually crops up in our political rhetoric. 

Socialism is a big one right now. Mr. Obama told Joe the Plumber that we need to "spread the wealth around," and Mr. McCain expresses concern that we are headed into socialism

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, socialism refers generally to an economic/social theory that calls for collective or state ownership of the means of national production and the creation of an egalitarian society. In its original conception, it was actually a nifty idea that would provide Karl Marx with free babysitting.

Karl Marx and his wife, Jenny, produced seven children. While only three lived to adulthood, they were apparently a handful when they were little scamps. The Marx's avoided poverty because Karl was making money through his writing, an inheritance, and through the support of his friend Friedrich Engels, whose money came from the profits of his family's business (a vile, capitalist venture, no doubt). The Marx's discovered, too late, the power of Karl's smelly beard to limit the process of conception, but they still had seven little ones to chase. So Marx came up with the idea of the collective, which would require all of his neighbors to watch his kids while he wrote books, talked trash and drank vodka with his hoodlum future-commie friends. Eventually he moved to London, missing the Beatles by 80 years, and died. His distant cousin Groucho failed to carry on Karl's legacy and went on to make a lot of money as an American capitalist entertainer. 

Besides amazingly accurate historical analyses, what occurred to me after my conversation with Princess K, was that we already do various forms of socialism in this country. For example:

Social Security: The first word is a tip off. I pay into the system and it goes to support my retired parents. I'm OK with that. I'm not OK that the punks who follow behind me could be cranky about supporting me. They'd better get busy--I'm not getting any younger.

Medicare: Same as Social Security, only different.

Welfare: It's not about my welfare, it's about someone else's.

These examples are about my money going out of my pocket and into someone else's. We already "spread the wealth." This is nothing new. 

Making a progressive tax is not a substantial change in "spreading the wealth," in my book. Look: If everyone paid a flat 10% tax, then the big dope making $300,000 would pay $30,000 and the poor slob making $50,000 would pay $5,000. Granted, the big dope has more left over than the poor slob. But the big dope's tax buys more highway improvements than does the poor slob's. So does the big dope get to drive on more road than the poor slob? Nope. Again, "spreading the wealth."

OK, so it's obvious that I'm an expert in economics. But don't let that intimidate you. You can think for yourself. In fact, you can go to and buy my book, The Bartender. Spread the wealth.

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