The wealth spreaders

THE WEALTH SPREADERS…. Without a hint of irony, Sarah Palin has begun calling Barack Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader.” I’m not sure if typical voters, who’ve seen their real wages decline, and who haven’t benefitted at all from a series of Republican tax cuts, will necessarily be outraged by the idea of a president offering more economic opportunities to those who’ve been left behind, but whatever. I’m not the McCain/Palin campaign’s message consultant.

But more importantly, as Ryan Powers noted, there’s the irony of Palin making these ridiculous attacks.

Just last month, in an interview with Philip Gourevitch of the New Yorker, Palin explained the windfall profits tax that she imposed on the oil industry in Alaska as a mechanism for ensuring that Alaskans “share in the wealth” generated by oil companies. […]

In fact, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) program, which manages the redistribution of oil wealth in Alaska, brings in so much money that the state needs no income or sales tax. In addition, this year ACES will provide every Alaskan with a check for an estimated $3,200.

As Hendrick Hertzberg notes, “Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it … but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.”

I realize that even McCain, Palin, and Fox News don’t take this “socialism” nonsense seriously, and that this is just rhetoric borne of desperation. McCain has always struggled with new ideas and a changing world, so it stands to reason he’d rely on a red scare as his closing argument.

But the truth is, Sarah Palin’s Alaska is about as close to socialism as America gets. As Yglesias recently noted, “You have collective ownership of valuable natural resources that generates lots of revenue for the state, and then the government makes ‘spreading the wealth around’ through the Permanent Fund, etc. its main priority.”

The point isn’t that there’s anything especially wrong with Palin-style socialism; there isn’t. The point is, if McCain and Palin want to whine incessantly about socialism, redistribution of wealth, and “welfare,” they ought to a) learn what they’re talking about; and b) take a good look in the mirror.