Our Benevolent Marxist Masters
Obama's budget obfuscates the difference between "need" and "desire."
February 13, 2012 - 4:07 pm
Well, once one got past Whitney Houston and the Romney wins on Saturday, the big news of the Sunday talk shows was a reported and repeated gaffe by White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, when he falsely claimed that sixty votes are required for the Senate to pass a budget. Sufficiently egregious was the error that even the Washington Post called him on it, issuing him four not-so-coveted Pinocchios:
Lew is completely wrong when he claims that 60 votes are needed to “pass a budget in the Senate.” As he well knows, a budget resolution is one of the few things that are not subject to a filibuster. In fact, that is one reason why a bill based on reconciliation instructions cannot be filibustered.
As they note, a two-time budget director should know better. And it’s pretty pathetic spin against the fact that the last time the (Democrat-majority) Senate passed a budget, no one outside of Apple had ever heard of an iPad. There are precocious children in pre-school who have never lived in an America in which the Senate has passed a budget.
But I want to comment on something else he said, and it’s a pretty standard line among Democrats defending the president’s policies, so much so as to draw no comment whatsoever from news show hosts when it is expressed — it’s just part of the collectivist ocean in which they all swim. Here’s what he said on This Week (and I’ll bet he said it on the other shows, too, because it is clearly one of the talking points that he’s been memorizing): “…we have tax cuts that go to people who don’t need them.”
Even ignoring the issue of the ongoing general lack of distinction in the media between “tax cuts” and “tax rate cuts,” think about the implications of that statement.
By all accounts, Mr. Lew is a good man, and almost certainly considers himself such. He’s reportedly an observant Orthodox Jew, and a dedicated family man. I assume that he loves his wife and children and pets, if any. He would certainly be appalled at the thought of gulags in America, or deliberate famine, or economic oppression. And yet, throughout history, those have been the ultimate results of his apparent belief system. Because if one is to properly parse his comment, the president’s chief of staff, like the president himself (and his crony Warren Buffett), reveals himself by this simple phrase to be a Marxist.
As I’ve noted here previously:
…[Marxists believe] the notion that what people “need” is an objective rather than subjective notion, which can be determined by benevolent third parties. After all, if one is going to reorder society and redistribute wealth, it is only “fair” that people be allowed to get what they “need” before depriving them of anything beyond that to satisfy the “needs” of others. This concept is exemplified by the famous phrase: “To each according to his need, from each according to his ability.”
But of course, in the real world, the difference between “need” and “desire” is purely subjective, and varies with the individual and their degree of self-actualization. At its most basic, there is no “need” for anything except air, food, and shelter. And such needs can be met in a North Korean prison. But when someone is lecturing someone else about what they “need,” what they really mean is that because they don’t perceive a need for those things, no one else really has one either — whether it’s flat-screen television, an SUV, a lobster dinner, a second home, or another handgun. They are perhaps happy to live in a rabbit warren, eat macrobiotic food, and ride their bicycle to work, and don’t think that anyone else should “need” more. And of course, since those selfish people don’t really need more, the rest of their resources are now available to satisfy the unmet “real” needs of the rest of society.
Similarly, Mr. Lew believes himself in a position to be able to judge how much of their own money the taxed “need,” and should therefore be allowed to keep. Ayn Rand encapsulated this attitude in section 2, chapter 4 of Atlas Shrugged:
Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? There was a time when men believed that “the good” was a concept to be defined by a code of moral values and that no man had the right to seek his good through the violation of the rights of another. If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they believe to be their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it – well, so does any burglar. There is only this difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act.
Nor does he cloak his burglary in the faux language of “reasonableness” and “fairness” and “moderation” and “balanced approach.”
And as Larry Kudlow points out, the mindset shows up in the president’s budget (no doubt with the approval of former budget director Lew):
…it’s really a class-warfare, tax-the-rich budget. Layer upon layer of tax hikes are piled on successful investors, small-business owners, and corporations.
The capital-gains tax goes from 15 percent to 24 percent (including Obamacare). The dividends tax goes from 15 percent to nearly 40 percent, and that’s not including the double tax on corporate profits embodied in dividends and capital gains. The Bush tax cuts for top earners are repealed. There’s the 30 percent Buffett-rule minimum tax on millionaires. The carried-interest tax for private equity, hedge funds, and other investment partnerships goes from 15 to 39.6 percent. The estate tax jumps to 45 percent. Oil and gas companies get hit. And there’s probably more stuff in there I haven’t read yet.
They continue to make it clear that the time for austerity is never, except for the productive. They intend to ensure that the resources will continue to be taken from those with the ability, but who don’t “need” them, and provided to those who they think do, so they can continue to purchase the votes of the latter with our money, and maintain their grip on power. And as they did yesterday, their fellow-traveling lapdogs in the media will remain complicit in helping them cover up what they really are, and what they really do. But we don’t have to help them.