Remember Barack Obama, Joe the Plumber, and “spreading the wealth?” It seemed a surprising revelation at the time. But Obama’s income redistributive tendencies have become an old and familiar story, if hardly a ho-hum one.
Now Obama has done it again, giving a speech in his home state of Illinois in which he included the following remarks:
We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.
The original speech as written was to have gone like this:
Now, we’re not doing this to punish these firms or begrudge success that’s fairly earned. We don’t want to stop them from fulfilling their responsibility to help grow our economy.
But apparently, he just couldn’t resist the additional embellishments. Michelle Malkin points out that:
We have a commander-in-chief who presumes to know when you have earned “enough,” who believes that only those who provide what he deems “good” products and services should “keep on making it,” and who has determined that the role of American entrepreneurs is not to pursue their own self-interest, but to fulfill their “core” responsibility as dutiful growers of the collective economy.
That famous mock-up poster of Obama as the creepy socialist Joker never seemed more apt.
None of this should be a surprise; it was all apparent before Obama was elected. Nor are such ideas unusual among that group of people known as intellectuals, of which Obama is a full-fledged member. Here’s another intellectual (and another black man), the conservative economist Thomas Sowell, on the subject. The excerpt is taken from his excellent book Intellectuals and Society [emphasis mine]:
Many intellectuals and their followers have been unduly impressed by the fact that highly educated elites like themselves have far more knowledge per capita—in the sense of special knowledge—than does the population at large. From this it is a short step to considering the educated elites to be superior guides to what should and should not be done in a society. They have often overlooked the crucial fact that the population at large may have vastly more total knowledge—in the mundane sense—than the elites, even if that knowledge is scattered in individually unimpressive fragments among vast numbers of people.
If on one has even one percent of the knowledge currently available, not counting the vast amounts of knowledge yet to be discovered, the imposition from the top down of the notions in favor among elites, convinced of their own superior knowledge and virtue, is a formula for disaster.
Sometimes it is economic disaster, which central planning, for example, turned out to be in so many countries around the world during the twentieth century that even most governments run by communists and socialists began replacing such top-down economic planning by freer markets by the end of the century…Other forms of this general notion include judicial activism, urban societies, and other institutional expressions of the belief that social decisions cannot be left to be determined by the actions and values of the less knowledgeable population at large.
One of the most interesting things about the Obama quote under discussion is that, if you look at his scripted speech, he was trying to do his version of supporting what Sowell says—that is, of praising the power of capitalism’s ability to allow the aggregate forces of private enterprise and personal initiative to grow an economy. He knows that’s the American way, and that it is necessary for a president to pay some sort of lip service to it. But he couldn’t help blurting out what for him is the truth—that he doesn’t really believe in it at all—and that he and the other brilliant intellectuals surrounding him know much better, both practically and morally.