The Needy Get Something – The Greedy Get Nothing
This is basically the slogan of the Obama Stimulus Plan, and this is why no House Republicans voted for this bill. This is basically a choice between the philosophy of Karl Marx, and the philosophy of Adam Smith. Let’s look at some points Karl Marx made, and translate them into points made by Obama.
Karl Marx address of the Central Committee to the Communist League
We have seen how the next upsurge will bring the democrats to power and how they will be forced to propose more or less socialistic measures. it will be asked what measures the workers are to propose in reply. At the beginning, of course, the workers cannot propose any directly communist measures. But the following courses of action are possible:
1. They can force the democrats to make inroads into as many areas of the existing social order as possible, so as to disturb its regular functioning and so that the petty-bourgeois democrats compromise themselves; furthermore, the workers can force the concentration of as many productive forces as possible – means of transport, factories, railways, etc. – in the hands of the state.
2. They must drive the proposals of the democrats to their logical extreme (the democrats will in any case act in a reformist and not a revolutionary manner) and transform these proposals into direct attacks on private property. If, for instance, the petty bourgeoisie propose the purchase of the railways and factories, the workers must demand that these railways and factories simply be confiscated by the state without compensation as the property of reactionaries. If the democrats propose a proportional tax, then the workers must demand a progressive tax; if the democrats themselves propose a moderate progressive tax, then the workers must insist on a tax whose rates rise so steeply that big capital is ruined by it; if the democrats demand the regulation of the state debt, then the workers must demand national bankruptcy. The demands of the workers will thus have to be adjusted according to the measures and concessions of the democrats.
Although the German workers cannot come to power and achieve the realization of their class interests without passing through a protracted revolutionary development, this time they can at least be certain that the first act of the approaching revolutionary drama will coincide with the direct victory of their own class in France and will thereby be accelerated. But they themselves must contribute most to their final victory, by informing themselves of their own class interests, by taking up their independent political position as soon as possible, by not allowing themselves to be misled by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeoisie into doubting for one minute the necessity of an independently organized party of the proletariat. Their battle-cry must be: The Permanent Revolution.
Barack Obama’s economic speech in Indianapolis
It’s time to turn the page on eight years of economic policies that put Wall Street before Main Street but ended up hurting both. We need policies that grow our economy from the bottom-up, so that every American, everywhere, has the chance to get ahead. Not just the person who owns the factory, but the men and women who work on its floor.
Well, the working families who’ve been hard hit by this economic crisis – folks who can’t pay their mortgages or their medical bills or send their kids to college – they can’t afford to go to the back of the line behind CEOs and Wall Street banks. They need help right here, right now – and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States.
Few have been harder hit by our credit crisis than the workers who make our cars and the companies that supply their parts. Now, when it came to rescuing Wall Street, Washington didn’t waste a minute. But now that auto-workers are suffering, Washington’s put on the brakes.
For the last eight years, we’ve given more and more to those with the most and hoped that prosperity would trickle down to everyone else. And guess what? It didn’t. So it’s time to try something new. It’s time to grow this economy from the bottom-up.
Now, make no mistake: the change we need won’t come easy or without cost. We will all need to tighten our belts, we will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together.
For those readers from Rio Lindo, Karl Marx phrase “petty bourgeoisie” equals Barack Obama phrase “person who owns the factory.” Karl Marx phrase “organized party of the proletariat” equals Barack Obama phrase “unionized men and women who work on the factory floor.”
Adam Smith had some things to say about this topic. Let’s look at some of the points Adam Smith made, and unfortunately there are no translations of his ideas in Barack Obama.
To enhance the wealth of a nation, every man, consistent with the law, should be free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of other men. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. The individual is driven by private gain but is led by an invisible hand to promote the public good, which was no part of his intention.
The skill, dexterity, and judgment with which labor is generally applied is one of the essential determinants of a nation’s standard of living. Whatever be the soil, climate, or extent of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or scantiness of its annual supply must in that particular situation, depend upon the productive powers of labor.
No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
In every country it always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it ever have been called in question had not the interested sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind. Their interest is, in this respect, directly opposite to that of the great body of the people. As it is the interest of the freemen of a corporation to hinder the rest of the inhabitants from employing any workmen but themselves, so it is the interest of the merchants and manufacturers of every country to secure to themselves the monopoly of the home market.
Adam Smith promoted free trade, good conditions for workers, progressive taxation and competition to benefit the public. The men and women who work on the factory floor could well ensure their relevance in a globalised world by embracing Adam Smith rather than Karl Marx.
I could not care less about parts of the Obama Stimulus Plan where condoms are distributed and pamphlets encouraging people to stop smoking. But I do deeply care about the parts of the plan that declare a war on capping individual achievements and limit who we can buy from, and how much we have to pay for what we buy. Increasing the size, scope, power, and central planning for life’s basic necessities by the Federal Government bothers me a lot.