Barack Obama's Social Democracy

I recently discovered the following quote by Mark Steyn in his book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It which I find incredibly insightful:

The trouble with the social-democratic state is that, when government does too much, nobody else does much of anything.

We’ve heard a lot recently about socialism. Wikipedia defines socialism as

A broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society.

Now you may disagree with me but I don’t believe that Barack Obama wants a complete transition of our capitalistic society into one based upon socialism. I certainly do, however, believe that a significant number of his policies are based on socialistic tenets and I feel he would prefer that we transition into a social democracy. And though there are a significant number of reasons why this is extremely troubling to me, one that I feel is often over looked is the potential impact on the incredible charitable nature of America.

If you look at the countries in Western Europe that elected Socialistic parties to power in the 1990’s, some of the largest were France, Germany, and Italy. In an ABC report on charity they they refer to Arthur Brooks book Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide, where Brook states that Americans per capita individually give about three and a half times more money per year, than the French per capita. … Seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians.

So what does this mean? If you look at the charitable contributions of the potential leaders from the Democratic party, you begin to see a clarity that is stunning. Looking at the tax returns of Joe Biden over the past ten years you will see that he has donated a total of $3,690 when his income has been $2,450,442. Doing the math that works out to 0.15%. Barack Obama is a bit better over the past two years but if you look over the past seven years he has donated $148,392 when his income was $3,857,564 (a bit over 3.8% though if you look at 2000 – 2004 it works out to around 0.9%). So are these two examples an anomaly? Probably not. In 1997, vice-president Al Gore gave a total of $353 when he made $197,729. You may argue that Nancy Pelosi is different as she gave over $43,000 recently on a yearly salary of $217,400. But looking at the donations you’ll see the incredibly needy organizations that she contributed to. Nearly all of her contributions went to two organizations, namely the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ($36,500) and the San Francisco Symphony ($5,600). I’m sure the poor, the tired and the huddles masses of the museum and symphony are grateful for the generosity of Ms. Pelosi. In short I believe this shows that the leadership of the Democratic Party believe that is it the role of government to be charitable, not the role of an individual.

My issue with Barack Obama is not that he is trying to help people that are less fortunate than I am. I freely admit I have been extremely bless by God and have a life that I am very proud of. It’s based on hard work and the basic belief of personal accountability. As a Christian I believe that it is my duty to give to those less fortunate and my only failing is that I wish I could give more. I’ve worked through significant financial challenges over the past several years but my goal is to get to the point where I have the ability to tithe and still support my family and send my kids to college.

My issue with Barack Obama is that I believe his policies will result in America becoming a less charitable nation on an individual basis. For me it is simple. If I have less to give, I will give less. Now you could think that this may be a net zero impact since whatever reduction in individual charitable donations could be offset by an increase in government subsidies. But the problem I have with that is that I believe the underlying philosophy of the Democratic Party is to provide a hand-out not a hand-up, which goes against my core principles. I would prefer my portion of charity (whether it comes directly from me or through my government) go to charities that believe in strengthening an individual, restoring a sense of personal responsibility and helping them become a productive member of society, not providing them with an increased welfare check that gives them no incentive to change their life. And another one of my core beliefs is that I have the intelligence and ability to determine which charities best meet these requirements, and that charity is best left to the private sector not our government.