The Rhetoric of Redistribution

By , October 16, 2008 2:46 pm

Joe the Plumber is famous. And so is Barack Obama’s response to Joe’s question:

Barack Obama told a tax-burdened plumber over the weekend that his economic philosophy is to “spread the wealth around” — a comment that may only draw fire from riled-up John McCain supporters who have taken to calling Obama a “socialist” at the Republican’s rallies. 

Obama made the remark, caught on camera, after fielding some tough questions from the plumber Sunday in Ohio, where the Democratic candidate canvassed neighborhoods and encouraged residents to vote early. 

“Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed “more and more for fulfilling the American dream.” 

“It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too,” Obama responded. “My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody … I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” 

But let’s take a little look at the bolded part of the quote, the redistribution part. Who is the ‘you’ in Barack’s world? Your neighbor? Your best friend? Me? You? No, of course not. The ‘you’ is Uncle Sam, or better, some bureaucrat in Washington who feels that s/he knows better than you what to do with your money–which brings us to ‘the wealth.”

Whose ‘wealth’ is the good Senator referring to? Again, you know the answer: Your wealth. The wealth that you created by your own hard labor. But the way Barack says it, people instinctively think of their neighbor or that banker fellow downtown or Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, anybody but them. 

And finally, who is the “everybody” in “it’s gonna be good for everybody”? Certainly not me. Barack has taken something away from me, with no guarantee that I’m going to get anything in return for it. I don’t even get the good feelings I receive when I voluntarily give something to someone or some organization of my choice. In fact, I probably end up feeling resentful because what I “gave,” the government actually took from me. 

So, given that Barack is going to take my wealth and spread it around, allow me this one feel-good exercise. Allow me to change his quote, so it’s an honest reflection of what will happen when he gets into office:

When I my ACORN and other liberal buddies and I grab your money without your permission and  give it to our political constituency–which probably doesn’t include you–it’s good for them (maybe) and for us (certainly). And by the way, by doing this year after year, it virtually insures that we’ll be in Washington D.C. for a long time, so don’t get too attached to your paycheck.

There, I feel better.

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