Obama, Romney, and Dependency

Only a few days ago, the Daily Caller obtained a complete audio recording of a speech in 1998 by then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama. He was speaking at a Loyola College forum on community organizing and policy-making  Loyola refused all requests to release the full tape or transcript of the talk. Some good soul in Chicago who got permission to view the existing videotape recorded the full speech secretly.

The most disturbing aspect of Obama’s speech is his idea that welfare recipients and “the working poor” form a coalition -“a majority coalition”, he says – that can be mobilized to advance “progressive” policies and continually elect the Democrats.

Obama at Loyola, 1998.

The speech is an interesting accompaniment to the now notorious words of Romney in Boca Raton, Fla., where he said that the 47% of the population who are net gainers from the welfare state will vote for Obama “no matter what”.

The consensus in the media is that these words uttered at a private fundraiser amounted to a “gaffe”, and Romney has been apologetic about the whole thing. I for one believe that Romney has nothing to be sorry for (although his “47%” would include students and retirees, and that certainly needs to be clarified). Indeed, Obama hints that his dream coalition would be over 50% of the voting population.

The issue of massive dependence on state welfare should be what the 2012 election is all about, and I hope it now dominates its final stages. Its hugely important for libertarians to be involved in this debate, even those of us disenchanted with a race between two men who can both reasonably claim to have invented Obamacare. Obama and Romney are correct on one issue: people who appear to gain more from the welfare state are not likely to support the people who agitate for smaller government. Its fair to say that Obama and many Democrats are deliberately seeking to make the majority of the population dependent on handouts. This will ensure permanent victory for the “party of government”. That will make Americans poorer and less free as long as the charade can be propped up, and it all turns into Greece.

Can the Republic of Jefferson be prevented from becoming the Hellenic? Whats most worrying is that we are fairly close to this situation already: almost half of all U.S. wage-earners pay no income tax. 70% get more in dollars from the government than they pay in with taxes. That half and their dependents will receive a plethora of benefits: “free” education from K-12, Pell Grants, Medicaid, rent supplements, food stamps, unemployment checks and many, many more. Why should these people throw their lot in with conservatives and libertarians who will reduce taxes they don’t even pay, while cutting or abolishing their benefits? As George Bernard Shaw said, a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

John C. Calhoun, America’s scariest-looking Vice President but a towering intellectual, foresaw this situation centuries ago:

The necessary result … of the unequal fiscal action of the government is to divide the community into two great classes; one consisting of those who … pay the taxes … and bear exclusively the burden of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds, through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into taxpayers and tax consumers.

He added:

This would give rise to two parties and to violent conflicts and struggles between them, to obtain the control of the government.

We are there, Mr. Calhoun. We are already there.

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About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

2 Responses to Obama, Romney, and Dependency

  1. Ted says:

    John

    I have always believed that many left wing parties view the people as sections of the electorate and that they dish out “treats” accordingly in order to get elected. And much of the debate of the next few weeks should be about dependency versus low tax and self reliance. However the situation in the US is complicated by the seriousness of the recession. I don’t claim to know the answer but there is a case to make for more state intervention during a time of recession. After all, FDR responded to the Great dpression with the New Deal. I know some argue that it prolonged the depression, again I don’t know the answer but I do know that it wasn’t catastrophic as many claim that Obamas policies are. I suspect that is one reason Obama is doing well in the polls, even on economic issues. Unlike yourself, I am not that ideological on the economy. I just want it fixed. I don’t buy into the theories that Obama is some kind of new American socialist. I think he comes from a different political tradition than most and that that freaks the pants off of many Americans. In Europe we are used to people from radical backgrounds entering more mainstream politics but in the US it is rare. That said, if I had a vote next month I would probably vote for Romney. As an Irishman I have developed a tremendous fear of debt. Two years ago I woke up one morning to find out that my country had so much debt it could no longer borrow money on the International markets. It is a paralysing experience. And if Obama were to spend in his second term like he did in his first something similar could very well happen.

    Ted

    • “I have always believed that many left wing parties view the people as sections of the electorate and that they dish out “treats” accordingly in order to get elected”.

      Certainly, and its not just confined to left-wing parties (the farm lobby in the US, among others, has great clout with both parties). Its as old as politics itself, and its deadly: http://www.political-humor.org/the-power-to-take-his-money-and-give-it-to-you.shtml

      “Unlike yourself, I am not that ideological on the economy”

      I regard economics as wertfrei (value-free) science. I’m no ideologue: there’s what works and what doesn’t. There’s what produces certain sets of results when it comes to unemployment, inflation and so on, and policies that we can deduce will produce another set of results. Unfortunately, it is easy it is for economics as a discipline to become entwined in ethical, philosophical and political disputes.

      After all, FDR responded to the Great dpression with the New Deal. I know some argue that it prolonged the depression…

      That is my position. Actually, the New Deal really kicked off with Hoover. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which bailed out banks and played a key part in the New Deal, was started under Hoover. Hoover also worked hard to ensure wages and many prices would not fall, a disastrous policy during a recession. During the Presidential election in 1933, Roosevelt accused Hoover of being fiscally irresponsible and creating unaccountable bureaucracies. Roosevelt likely won his first term as a result if his stance towards Prohibition more than anything else.

      And yes, the numbers when it comes to the New Deal are simply not good. There was depression within a depression in 1938, and unemployment was still over 15% by WWII.

      I don’t buy into the theories that Obama is some kind of new American socialist

      True, because he isn’t really. That is if we take socialism as strictly meaning state control over the means of production. That ideology is discredited and only survives in the universities and political fringes.

      I think he comes from a different political tradition than most and that that freaks the pants off of many Americans

      True again. Its hard to pin Obama. He’s classed as part of the Progressive movement in American politics, along the lines of Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren. There has also been a lot of influence from more radical quarters: the Saul Alinsky types from Chicago come to mind. This in particular is what drives conservatives in America up the wall: that community organizer background in Chicago, the corruption of the Democratic Party there, and Obama’s hostility to working in the private sector. Remember, he actually described his experience briefly working in the Manhattan offices of Business International as being “like a spy behind enemy lines”.

      However, there is another tantalizing aspect to Obama that will probably never be discussed in the open. His autobiography, Dreams from my Father – A Story of Race and Inheritance shows us that Obama desired from a young age to be a leader of blacks, but was hugely troubled about whether he was ‘black enough’ to be a black leader.

      In a future post, I would like to address Obama’s virtually unknown relationship with Edward Said and the similarities between the two men.

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