All right already. I won't call Obama a Marxist in this column. Instead, I'll point to some signs that indicate that Barack and Karl might well be soul mates. At least, they have similar attitudes about capital, labor and profits, er, surplus value.
Liberals, even those of the Marxist variety, take umbrage when you point out their ideological kinship with Marxism.
I suppose this dates back to the days when being a communist was tantamount to being an enemy of the United States, in that there was a global communist movement intent on -- and coming darn close to -- world domination. Though global communism has been defeated, there remains a strong contingent among us, whose nerve center is the Democratic Party leadership under President Obama, committed to obliterating America's free market.
Without getting into the intricacies of Marxist theory, suffice it to say that at the core of this political and economic philosophy is a belief in the historical class struggle. The capitalist (bourgeois) exploits the industrial worker (proletarian) by underpaying him and adding on unnecessary charges to the prices of goods and services, driving up costs to the consumer, and pocketing the profits.
In "Basic Economics," Thomas Sowell puts it this way: "Profits may be the most misconceived subject in economics. Socialists have long regarded profits as simply 'overcharge,' as Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw called it, or a 'surplus value' as Karl Marx called it." The theory is that under socialism or Marxism, these surplus charges would be eliminated and goods and services would become more affordable.
But in reality, socialism doesn't make goods and services more affordable, but less so. As Dr. Sowell explains: "The hope for profits and the threat of losses is what forces a business owner in a capitalist economy to produce at the lowest cost and sell what the customers are most willing to pay for. ... Under socialism (there is) far less incentive to be as efficient ... much less to keep up with changing conditions and respond to them quickly." With less incentive for efficiencies and cost control, the prices of goods might well be higher.
Profits are not arbitrary charges added on to the costs of producing goods and services; nor are they attributable to artificially high prices charged by those motivated by greed. Indeed, writes Sowell, most of the great fortunes in American history were amassed when entrepreneurs were able to reduce costs and charge lower prices and to increase their volume sales to mass markets.