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.
You get the point. Capitalists don't view profits as evil or the product of greed. Their opponents -- call them Marxists, fascists, socialists, radical liberals or whatever -- do. Which brings us back to Barack Obama.
Both his father, Barack Obama Sr., and his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, were communists. His church of choice was one of black liberation theology, whose Marxist roots are inarguable. He associated with far leftists on the "organizing" streets of Chicago, including Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.
Mentorship and associations are one thing, but what have Obama's words and actions revealed about his attitudes toward labor, capital, profits and government control of business and industry?
Well, he said that he would raise capital gains tax rates, even if it reduced revenues, as a matter of fairness. It's only fair to make everyone poorer if you believe profits are inherently evil.
He told Joe the Plumber he wants to spread the wealth around. He talked about confiscating Exxon Mobil's profits and giving them to consumers, saying "they are not going to give up those profits easily." He called Chrysler creditors "speculators" and castigated them for refusing to accept his extortionist reorganization plan. He berated Wall Street for making profits, saying "now is not (the) time" for them to "rake in profits." He and his wife even railed against the pursuit of profit in their respective commencement addresses.
He is desperately trying to spread the misery and impoverish businesses and individuals through his cap and tax plan, which no proponent of economic growth and prosperity would consider supporting. And in addition to gobbling up other businesses and industries, he is trying to nationalize medicine -- to siphon off the evil surplus value charged by doctors and insurance companies -- on the flawed Marxist theory that he can reduce costs overall, when the reason health care costs have already skyrocketed is that market forces have been suppressed in the industry.
You don't have to call him a Marxist, but at least understand where his heart is.