PJ Media

Welcome to the Great American Handout

Back when Barack Obama was running for president, he famously explained his socialist governing philosophy to a five-year-old:

We’ve got to make sure that people who have more money help the people who have less money. If you had a whole pizza, and your friend had no pizza, would you give him a slice?

He made a similar analogy later on in the campaign when responding to John McCain’s assertions that Obama is a socialist:

By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

No one’s arguing about how nice it is to share pizza, toys, and PB&J sandwiches. And Americans as a whole are a generous people. Back in 2007, charitable giving in this nation exceeded $300 billion for the first time. The problem is when a third party — government bureaucracy — takes your pizza, toys, and sandwiches and decides how much you get to keep and how much goes to the people they decide are worthy of enjoying the things you bought and paid for with the money you earned.

That’s not sharing. That’s redistribution. It’s something that had its start with FDR’s New Deal, reemerged during LBJ’s Great Society, and now seems poised to catch up to the socialist states that the American left has long admired in Europe.

So here we are: faced with a ginormous “stimulus bill” that has less to do with stimulating the economy and more to do with the expansion of government power, and when we wonder about the lack of direction Congress has when it comes to actually spending the money, our self-appointed betters say, “So what?” and absolve themselves from blame if the money is misspent.

Economist Thomas Sowell explains the obvious:

What are the Beltway politicians buying with all the hundreds of billions of dollars they are spending? They are buying what politicians are most interested in — power.

In the name of protecting the taxpayers’ investment, they are buying the power to tell General Motors how to make cars, banks how to bank, and, before it is all over with, all sorts of other people how to do the work they specialize in, and for which members of Congress have no competence, much less expertise.

This administration and Congress are now in a position to do what Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression of the 1930s — use a crisis of the times to create new institutions that will last for generations.

To this day, we are still subsidizing millionaires in agriculture because farmers were having a tough time in the 1930s. We have the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) taking reckless chances in the housing market that have blown up in our faces today because FDR decided to create a new federal housing agency in 1938.

Barney Frank is really getting into the spirit of things, explaining that not only do CEOs of companies receiving government bailouts face compensation restrictions, but that said restrictions could actually extend to all U.S. companies.

In other words, Congress wants to tell private companies how much they can pay their top executives. This might sound great to those who don’t earn millions of dollars each year, but if the government can tell CEOs how much they are allowed to earn, what’s stopping them from eventually deciding what a fair wage is for everyone else? They already tell small business owners that they cannot pay their employees any less than a certain amount per hour via the minimum wage law. Again, it sounds like a nice idea until you realize that many small businesses end up having to cut their workforce so they can pay the remaining employees what Congress decides is a fair hourly rate, putting more people out of work and on the unemployment rolls.

Wow, what I wouldn’t give to be able to set a cap on House and Senate salaries — and that would include the expensive spa retreats that cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars for transportation, phone, Internet, and security. It may seem like peanuts compared to the near-trillion-dollar price tag of the so-called “stimulus bill,” but it’s a little galling that the same people who screamed murder when Wall Street execs went on similar retreats do the whole “pot meet kettle” routine.

My mother wonders if such a CEO salary cap is legal, since it would bypass the authority of the corporations’ boards and shareholders. I really don’t know. What I do know is this bodes ill for free market capitalism, upon which America was built.

We’re being told that a failure to act will “turn crisis into a catastrophe” by the same man who told us we need to get beyond the “politics of fear.” I guess it’s different to scare people about the economy than it is to inform them about the dangers to our nation posed by Islamist extremists that have struck more than once and who are busy striking other nations as well.

Despite his support for the bill, Joe Biden is one of the few who see the potential for voter backlash — everyone else seems to be drunk on their own power, which includes the desire to shut up the opposition by shutting down talk radio.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government.” He also said, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

According to Obama, we’re rebuilding America — and indeed we are. We’re turning it from the USA to the USSA.