Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fair and Unbalanced: Is Obama’s “Fairness” a Euphemism for “Socialism”?

Greece is about to slide into social oblivion . This is a national and inevitable consequence of socialism anywhere it has been tried.

Stephen Moore, “As Greece Collapses, Socialism Is the Big Loser,” Fox News, July 7, 2015

Striking a balance between capitalism and socialism has always been and will continue to be every nation’s dilemma.

Socialism with lavish cradle to grave benefits is not possible without capitalism and economic growth. Winston Churchill captured the dilemma perfectly, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

The Greek tragi-drama, or perhaps I should say tragi-drachma, illustrates the problem. Greece, with its obese welfare state, leaky pension systems, and declining tax collections, is bankrupt. Its average retirement age is 60, 1 of 4 adults in unemployed, 1 of 2 of its young people is unemployed, and its national debt is $350 billion , or $31,820 for every Greek man, woman, and child.

Will the U.S. follow Greece? Given our resources, the size of our capitalistic economy, our innate innovativeness, our center-right political culture, and our sense of “fairness,” that is unlikely. In the U.S., 9 of 10 adults is employed, albeit many of them work part-time; 7 or 8 of millenials have jobs, and the national debt is $18 trillion, which works out at over $56,000 for each citizen.

Interpreting fairness lies in the mind of the beholder. In ObamaSpeak, “fairness” is a “Yes-Yes”, and “socialism” is a “No-No”. Obama insists he is not an progressive ideologue, but an even-minded fairness moderate.

Under his health care philosophy, it is “fair” to raise taxes and premiums and deductibles on the middleclass to support lower income classes, to assure equal health outcomes with one-size-fits-all health plans, to eliminate the risks of paying for health care for businesses and health plans by imposing individual and employer mandates and by accepting all health insurance candidates, without regard for pre-existing health or condition or gender.

It’s great if you’re one of the 9.2 million on health exchange subsidies, or the 70 million on Medicaid, or the 55 million on Medicare. It’s not so great if you’re one of the rest of us, depending or market growth to support the government.

Capitalism, Obama seems to be saying or is perceived to be saying, is “unfair.” It produces unequal results. Some make more money than others, or receive more of society's benefits. It rewards the successful. It creates undeserved opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs. It makes some people fabulously wealthy. It rewards risk. It makes people work for their rewards. And it punishes those who are poor, uneducated, or those who are regarded as minorities.

On the other side of the philosophical divide are people like Stephen Moore, a 55 year old economist who was on the Wall Street Journal editorial board until 2004 and then became president of the Heritage Foundation. Moore is an advocate of economic growth as the fairest philosophy as articulated in his 2011 book Who Is The Fairest of Them All: Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America.

Here is Moore’s rebuttal of Obama in the opening argument in his book.

“President Obama has declared that the standard by which all policies and policy outcomes are judged is fairness. He declared in 2011 that "we've sought to ensure that every citizen can count on some basic measure of security. We do this because we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any moment, might face hard times, might face bad luck, might face a crippling illness or a layoff." And that, he says, is why we have a social safety net. He says that returning to a standard of fairness where anyone can get ahead through hard work is the "issue of our time." And perhaps it is.”

“This book explores what it means for our economic system and our economic results to be "fair." Does it mean that everyone has a fair shot? Does it mean that everyone gets the same amount? Does it mean the government can assert the authority to forcibly take from the successful and give to the poor? Is government supposed to be Robin Hood determining who gets what? Or should the market decide that? The surprising answer: nations with free market systems that allow people to get ahead based on their own merit and achievement are the fairest of them all.”

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