CBS Hits Obama, Weakly, on Shady Fundraising | Main | 250K, 200K...
October 27, 2008

84% Don't Have A Clue? (Kat-Mo)

Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein talks about Obama's "re distributive changes" theories and has this little section of interest.

It's true that most Americans, when asked by pollsters, think that it's emphatically not the government's job to redistribute wealth. But are people so stupid as to not recognize that when politicians talk about a "right to health care," or "equalizing educational opportunities," or "making the rich pay a fair share of taxes," or "ensuring that all Americans have the means to go to college," and so forth and so on, that they are advocating the redistribution of wealth? Is it okay for a politician to talk about the redistribution of wealth only so long as you don't actually use phrases such as "redistribution" or "spreading the wealth," in which case he suddenly becomes "socialist"? If so, then American political discourse, which I never thought to be especially elevated, is in even a worse state than I thought.

Why, yes, the American Public is strangely schizophrenic on this topic and many others. Why else can you talk to any average American and have them complain about an inefficient and wasteful government just to have them turn around and (by the polls anyway) support a candidate who boldly proclaims his intentions to expand government and government spending?


Secondly, ever talk to average people about their pay checks and have them complaining about how much taxes are taken out? Yet, again, we apparently have an incredible number of people who are willing to support a candidate who is promising to let Bush's tax cuts expire (a tax cut that was across the board for all economic classes) that will essentially raise taxes on everyone while giving back "tax credits" that not everyone will be able to take advantage of (or will know to do so without having someone else do their taxes) and when the tax cuts actually do expire will be an aggregate net loss, raise the taxes on small businesses and on investments, etc, etc, etc.

Let's be realistic. Most Americans see the government as "the government", as if it was some monolithic, self-propelled machine. They see the people that they elect as "steering" the machine, but largely unable to control it. Except the president. Whoever is president is considered "at the helm" so, if the machine goes off course or does something funky, it's not about courts or congress, it's the machine and the helmsman.

The "machine" of government is totally separate from the people. It must be, because, if the people actually felt like they had a say in running it, surely it wouldn't be so inefficient and costly. Just ask any American. They could tell you at least one government department they could recommend changes to. Like the DMV or the IRS.

Why else can people be extremely angry about the bailout and yet see the Democrat congress as the people that pulled our financial stones out of the fire when it was the Democrats in congress who helped set it up for the fall? It wasn't these people, it was "the government."

On that same note, while they recognize that the government has "taken their money" to give to the "Wall Street Fat Cats", they either believe that the money being given to themselves is money the government created or they believe they have paid in so much money personally that the government "owes" them. Or, just as badly, they believe that government "legal plunder" is being given out to everyone else so they might as well get "their share".

On the other hand, actually calling it what it is, redistribution, does have certain connotations of Communism and Socialism, which the people (particularly the older variety that experienced any part of the nasty part of the Cold War) still comprehend is "bad". So, even if what is happening with protectionist tariffs, the destruction of free trade agreements, tax welfare, minimum wages and all the other "benefits" of socialism, they just can't bring themselves to say it.

Which is also why the people complain endlessly about crooked politicians, earmarks and lobbyists and still elect the same group of thieves. Largely because they don't consider their own elected politicians as members of the "thieves den", but champions protecting the constituents interests by getting their fair share or some part of their own money back. Everybody else's politicians are thieves.

So, is the American political discourse worse than Bernstein thought? Well, I don't want to point this out, but where, exactly, has Bernstein been all these decades? We are talking about the creators of the "Great Society" with Medicare, Medicaid and Welfare who went on to demonize and defeat the Soviet Union and Communism while decrying socialist leanings of Europe.

But, let's be honest. The issue here isn't just that there is some redistributionist tendencies in the government, but that people do have a certain line they don't want to cross. The one they think will tip the US from being a Democratic Republic to a Socialist Democracy. They don't think we've crossed that line already or, more likely, keep moving the goals further out as the nation becomes more wealthy and they think that "the government" can afford more and more "benefits" without actually turning "socialist".

So, the truth is, yes, the American political discourse is worse than Bernstein thought, but that's just because he gave it too much credence in the first place.

digg this
posted by xgenghisx at 10:51 PM

| Access Comments




Recent Comments
navycopjoe: "165 they come here twice a year always fun to wa ..."

rickl: "Check out this really nice XKCD cartoon. https: ..."

garrett: ">>it was the 4" pumps that really made the outfit. ..."

I love the non-changed climate, sexually.: "---Heh. Reading the polar-bear link, on the Fox ..."

CharlieBrown'sDildo: " Because I honestly have no idea what the whole g ..."

Misanthropic Humanitarian: "176 MisHum, would you mind putting up the fact tha ..."

Mike Hammer, etc., etc.: " Because I honestly have no idea what the whole gi ..."

Misanthropic Humanitarian: "152 Tucker behaves like he knows that his days are ..."

CN: "I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Becaus ..."

bluebell ~ get cooking, Horde!: "MisHum, would you mind putting up the fact that Me ..."

undocumented illegal SMOD: " U.S. judge orders special counsel to turn over ev ..."

Cicero (@cicero): "[i]I told him yes, but we didn't come up with that ..."

Recent Entries
Search


MuNuvians
Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
News/Chat
Archives
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64