>George W. Bush redistributed more wealth during his presidency than any president had since Lyndon Johnson. Republicans really have never had any problem with redistributing wealth as long as the proceeds go to the right people. Since Medicare benefits senior citizens, a constituency that no election can be won without in the baby boomer retirement era, Republicans had no problem using the force of government to take money from one individual and use it to buy “healthcare” for another – as they did with their Medicare prescription drug benefit. Neither do they hesitate to redistribute to bankers, under the cover of “saving the financial system.” God help us if there is ever a constituency of senior citizen bankers.
In fact, if one looks at the federal budget as it existed before the massive bailouts started – pre-TARP – at least 80% of the almost $3 trillion budget amounted to wealth redistribution. Always there was some rationalization for why this or that group must receive federal funds “for the good of all.” The farmers must be subsidized because there is absolutely no way to sustain farming in a market economy. If large farming corporations weren’t subsidized, we would all starve. Medical research must be subsidized because we will eventually all die of cancer, AIDS, and other horrific diseases if the government doesn’t subsidize medical research. Corporations in general must be subsidized because if one were to go out of business, everyone would be unemployed.
The Democrats typically attempt to characterize the Republicans as racist or elitist because the Republicans have traditionally resisted wealth redistribution for the poor or minorities. However, the reality is that Republicans do this for the same reasons that Democrats resist redistribution to bankers and corporations (or at least they used to). The poor and minorities don’t vote Republican. That is the only reason that Republicans attempt to leave them out.
No one in America seems to know any American history. Following the American Civil War, when black voters universally supported the Republicans due to their perception that the “party of Lincoln” had set them free, it was the Republicans who promised “40 acres and a mule” to blacks and the Democrats who proclaimed themselves “the party of white men.” Enslaved by their former ruling class and now used as pawns in a political power game by the new one, the freed black voters of post-Civil War America serve as a perfect metaphor for the supposed “beneficiaries” of all government redistribution schemes. Whether it is elderly people trying to scrape by on a Social Security Check, poor people trying not to starve on public welfare, or Iraqi citizens enjoying their newly provided “freedom,” the so-called beneficiaries of government wealth redistribution are never the winners. It takes an alarming lack of skepticism not to ask who the real winners are.
As this new century has “progressed” (pun intended), even the blurry lines separating the two parties have begun to melt away. Remember that George Bush’s redistribution schemes also included stimulus “tax refunds” to everyone, whether they actually paid taxes in the first place or not. “Compassionate conservatism” was nothing more than a euphemism for attempting to blend traditional Republican rhetoric about “free markets” and “limited government” with thinly-veiled redistribution schemes. By doing so, Bush’s Republicans hoped to hold onto their own base while chipping away at the Democratic voting blocks by promising them other people’s money, just as the Democrats do.
Throughout the 20th century, the two parties employed this strategy of “borrowing a page from the other’s playbook” over and over, always hoping to win voters away from the opposition while retaining the loyalty of their own traditional supporters. It was this that caused many liberals to criticize Bill Clinton for being “too much like a Republican.” Why George Bush has managed to hold on to his image as an “extreme conservative” defies explanation.
Until now, there has always been at least one thing to say in favor of the Democrats. They have been honest about their intentions. They have come right out and said that their intention was to redistribute wealth in order to achieve “equality” or “social justice” or some other utopian goal. Certainly, no lucid American can deny that the Democratic platform has been a socialist one for at least the last century. It has been the Republicans who have deceived their followers to a much greater extent by promising them liberty and property rights and then redistributing almost as egregiously as the Democrats.
One hallmark redistribution strategy used by the Republicans was “privatization.” Somehow, they managed to successfully characterize forcibly extracting money in taxes from their citizens and redistributing it to private corporations as “free enterprise,” as if “private” and “free” were synonymous. Alexander Hamilton must have smiled in his grave.
However, the Democrats have truly broken new ground during this presidential administration. Not only have they managed to outspend the voracious Bush administration in just ten short months, but they have taken a page from the Republican playbook and actually privatized wealth redistribution. Formerly, however transparent the scheme, the money at least made it into the federal treasury for a moment before being paid out to the special interest that had bought it with votes. However, H.R. 3962, the so-called “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” dispenses with this formality. Now, using the coercive power of government, private citizens will be forced to pay their money directly to government supported health insurers whether they wish to or not. The veneer that this is “public money” being spent for the “public good” has been completely stripped away. There is now simply a government pointing a gun at its citizens and forcing them to pay directly to the special interest that has successfully lobbied for their money. Even King John of the Robin Hood tales did not extort for his friends this overtly.
A more perverse merger of left and right political corruption is unimaginable. Using the government’s numbers, this will provided coverage for 36 million uninsured Americans at a minimum of $15,000 per covered life. Assuming these numbers to be at least “in the ball park,” President Obama and his so-called liberals have just handed over a half a trillion dollars a year to corporate America (the health insurance companies). What true progressive could possibly support this?
The price of this corporate welfare, of course, is that any remaining vestiges of voluntary contracts between insurer and insured that health insurance still retained has been eliminated. Insurers are no longer allowed to determine rates demographically and based upon a real risk model. They are no longer allowed to offer diverse coverage packages to compete with one another for different customer groups. They now must offer low rates and uniform benefits to everyone as entitlements. Like individual welfare recipients, they have surrendered all of their liberty and property rights in return for other people’s money. They are now just one more arm of the state bureaucracy.
The worst aspect of this great fraud is the implications it has for the liberty of every American. The closest parallel to this heretofore has been automobile insurance. Americans have been forced to buy auto insurance directly from an auto insurer in order to exercise the “privilege” of driving on the government’s roads. This was of course enacted for the public good, to ensure that poor drivers could not bankrupt the innocent by demolishing their cars or saddling them with exorbitant hospital bills. However, as hostile to liberty as these laws are, they still leave the driver a choice. He can choose not to drive, however impractical or unrealistic that choice might be.
However, with this new bill, even that smattering of liberty is ripped away. Americans are now forced to purchase insurance from a government-protected and subsidized health insurance company merely because they are alive. Worse yet, they are not merely forced to make a single payment of tribute to satisfy their “individual responsibility.” They must go on paying, year in and year out, for as long as they live. They cannot decline. They cannot conscientiously object. There is no escape from this tyranny save one: death. For those individuals that can demonstrate that they are completely incapable of paying, someone else will be forced to pay for them. No matter what, the government’s corporation will be paid. Even life is no longer a right, but a privilege that the government extends to its subjects for a fee.
From 2001-2006, the Republicans controlled all branches of government. It was an horrific period of utter destruction of American liberty. The Democrats have now been given their chance and in ten short months they have far outdone the Bush Republicans for this dubious distinction. Make no mistake. If the Republicans regain power, they will be worse still. Americans should understand that they will affect no “change” in their government by electing either of these two parties. The federal government is a monster that has taken on a life of its own. Both parties are now its minions and are indistinguishable from one another.
Our Declaration of Independence says that “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Are we there yet?
© Thomas Mullen 2009