“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” — Alexis de Tocqueville
The quintessential American worldview is founded on the centrality of God and the primacy of the individual in the life of our nation. Good societies are not created by great governments. Good societies are created by good people acting freely in their own self interest and the interests of others.
That notion is in stark contrast with recent revelations regarding Senator Obama. We are now beginning to see more and more evidence that he has a worldview regarding government, property, and self-determination well outside the mainstream.
Consider what we have learned over the past three weeks. Leaving aside all the social issues in this column, just examine the economic issues.
First, paying for healthcare. The past several years have seen several million Americans start Health Savings Accounts. They enable people to save and accumulate money tax-free to pay for personal or family medical costs. They empower individuals to shop for the best deals and eliminate waste, stewarding their own resources to care for their own families.
But Mr. Obama has different ideas. He opposes HSAs, and his now-infamous 1996 questionnaire shows he has always opposed personal health care autonomy. Instead, he wants the central government to make all of those decisions for you and your family. A massive federal bureaucracy will decide what medical procedures doctors can perform, who qualifies for what treatments, and who can perform what services.
The price tag for this bureaucratic colossus is a stunning $800 billion, and that is just for starters. And how will he pay for this? He is going to raise taxes. While some might say that would all come from “the rich,” even a quick glance shows “the rich” cannot provide almost a trillion dollars.
Capital Gains Taxation:
Second, Mr. Obama now wants to double the tax on capital gains. Supposedly, this only taxes “the rich” and is consistent with the publicly expressed doctrine of his church, which decries the accumulation of wealth. This includes the wealth accumulation by those of middle income.
His plan taxes the middle class and those who have saved. In 1980, 20% of Americans owned stock, which would be subject to the tax. But now almost 60% of Americans own stock, so this tax would take money out of every 401k, every IRA, every college-savings investment account, and away from retirees who put any money into stock for retirement.
Charitable Giving: Third, giving. Since 2000, in the years where Mr. Obama and his wife made between $200,000 and $300,000, they gave about 1% of their income to charity. Much of that 1% was given to Jeremiah Wright’s church.
This again shows Mr. Obama’s worldview. He clearly believes that rather than giving generously to those in need and to worthy causes and charities, the government should do the giving. Since government has no money, that means it needs to take more of your money through taxes, so that it can decide who deserves your money.
For those who might object that these are cherry-picked incidents, consider this: according to National Journal Barack Obama is the number one most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. National Journal is hardly a conservative mouthpiece. Its ratings are well accepted as an objective benchmark, and Mr. Obama’s record puts him to the left of Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer.
Trusting the People:
In the American system, we trust the people to make self-interest and informed decisions, according to their own wants and needs. That is freedom. This is opposed to collectivist decision-making from a central government.
But, central government planning is what Mr. Obama’s policies require. He would rather tax you and spend your own money for your own good than trust you to decide how to spend your money.
More good is accomplished for more people by private organizations and citizens freely giving as they see fit than a bureaucratic national government amassing and redistributing billions of dollars according to some political formulation.
High taxes, but low personal giving, also is consistent with this emerging picture of Mr. Obama. Someone who thinks that government carries the primary burden for caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless, is likely not to give much money to charities, but require all citizens to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the inefficient central government to address these issues.
I wonder if we can afford Mr. Obama’s generosity.
Part II of this series will deal with what has been revealed in the past couple of weeks about Senator Obama’s cultural and social values through his 1996 questionnaire, and recent unscripted comments.