Oh Noes! Socialism!

If you read Barack Obama’s tax plan (pdf), it seems pretty unobjectionable. He wants to cut taxes on most people, and let the tax rates on those who make over $250,000 a year go back to the levels they were at during the Clinton years, when, as we all know, the economy went to hell in a handbasket. He will keep capital gains taxes the same for people making under $250,000 a year, and raise the capital gains rate for the remaining people to 20%; again, this is where it was after Bill Clinton cut it in 1997. He would eliminate some corporate tax loopholes, but eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses. This hardly seems like the onset of the apocalypse to me.

Sarah Palin disagrees:

“Sarah Palin went after Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats at a campaign rally in a high school gym in Sioux City today. As supporters shouted out “Socialist!” at the mention of Barack Obama’s name Sarah Palin clearly laid out the analogy without mentioning it outright — even comparing his economic plan to other countries “where people are not free.”

“See, under a big government agenda, what you thought was yours, your income, your property, your inventory, your investments, really would belong to somebody else, to everybody else. And it would be shared with everybody else.” Palin said, “That philosophy of government taking more, which is a misuse of the power to tax. It leads to government moving into the role of taking care of you and government and politicians and kind of moving in as the other half of your family to make decisions for you. Now they do this in other countries where the people are not free.””

Sarah Palin: Step away from that copy of The Fountainhead

I would really like to know what Sarah Palin thinks is an appropriate use of the government’s power to tax. Maybe she is opposed to all taxes, and regards even those taxes required to provide for the national defense as confiscation or theft. Or maybe she thinks there’s something sacrosanct about the levels of taxation we have now — that all the money the government now takes is money it can take legitimately, without engaging in theft or redistribution, but any increase in taxes counts as socialist confiscation, and anyone who advocates such changes shows that s/he believes that all our property is owned collectively. That would explain why she thinks that while Bush’s tax cuts did not count as redistributing wealth in favor of the rich, repealing those tax cuts on people making over $250,000 a year counts as redistributing wealth in favor of the remaining 95% of the population. But it would also be an idiotic thing to believe.

Look: socialism is a word that has a meaning. It means public control of the means of production. It does not mean taxing the top bracket at 39%. Likewise, “collective ownership” has a meaning, and it does not mean the situation that obtains when the government can repeal tax cuts for the top 5% of the population.

I assume that if Sarah Palin had a decent argument against Obama’s policies, she’d make it. Trying to cast Obama as a socialist is just laughable — almost as laughable as the idea that this line of attack will appeal to anyone outside the Republican Party’s lunatic fringe.

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