October 27th, 2008

Yawning Abyss Or Just A Yawn

Some conservatives are excited about finding an Obama radio interview where he advocates "redistributive change."

But some libertarians argue that redistribution is old hat. For example, David Bernstein writes:
At least since the passage of the first peacetime federal income tax law about 120 years ago, redistribution of wealth has been a (maybe the) primary item on the left populist/progressive/liberal agenda, and has been implicitly accepted to some extent by all but the most libertarian Republicans as well.
I suppose the key is that "implicitly accepted." Which suggests it has been "explicitly rejected".

Bernstein goes on to reflect:
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.
Perhaps so, but worse in which way?  The left may be big on redistribution, but they have never succeeded in selling it on its own merits. Instead they have proceeded by selling particular programs by means of more specific arguments.

Generally, they argue from "need to help the poor."  Not from "need to tear down the rich."  You might argue that mathematically the two are one, but the emotional appeals are quite different.

You might say they've been a bit sneaky about their intentions - at least in the political arena. So whose fault is it that people are upset when the taboo is broken?

If your side has been sneaking
be careful of leaking
your true agenda
in all its splendor.