I really do wish that these people that keep throwing around words like socialist and communist would actually study them and gain even a basic understanding so that they can stop looking foolish by throwing them around so flippantly. For that matter, people on the left ought to stop throwing around the word fascist too but that is a topic for another post.

Sarah Palin and John McCain keep throwing around this threat of socialism and have earned themselves another PANTS ON FIRE award from Politifact.

So when Wurzelbacher brought up a flat tax, Obama responded by endorsing progressive taxation – the principle of taxing those with higher incomes at a higher percentage than those with lower incomes. And it is in that context that Obama said he wanted to "spread the wealth."

Progressive taxes do indeed spread the wealth a bit. But they do so much more modestly than government owning the means of production.

Few serious policy makers — including McCain — consider progressive taxation socialist. In fact, on the Oct. 26, 2008 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, McCain stood by a comment he made in 2000 that "there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more" in taxes when you "reach a certain level of comfort."

If McCain would like to argue to the American public that progressive taxation is unfair I would encourage him to do that but to throw out terms like socialism to describe such a system demonstrates just how much the Republican Party has lost its way. You would think that even prominent local economists would recognize such a glaring fact!

So no, Obama's tax increase on those making more than $250,000 would not represent a transformation of the U.S. system of government. His desire to "spread the wealth" through progressive taxation makes him no less a capitalist than McCain, or Lincoln. Palin's allegation that Obama wants to "experiment with socialism" seems designed less to inform than to inflame. That's Pants on Fire wrong.


3 responses to "Is He A Socialist? A Communist? A Marxist? WELL, NONE OF THE ABOVE"

  1. Anonymous On October 27, 2008 at 11:36 PM

    What is it called when money flows from the middle class into the hands of the wealthy? Why is it only called "socialism" when money is returned from the wealthy for the good of society. It's not like Obama is planning to spend the money on "no bid" military contract. Or tax breaks for big oil. I guess to many people have taken the attitude of "let them eat cake."

  2. Gary Gross On October 30, 2008 at 4:03 PM

    Here's some clarity on the issue from Dictionary.com:

    (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

    That's certainly Obama's goal.

  3. eric zaetsch On October 31, 2008 at 4:45 PM

    New Yorker, online:


    Ending paragraph, between the dotted lines (but it's all worth reading):

    For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

    What of that farm implement, Sarah the Manure Spreader?