Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama's definition of 'spread the wealth'

If you've wondered just what Sen. Barack Obama meant when he used the term 'spread the wealth,' this will answer your questions.

It's a radio interview Obama did in 2001 on Chicago public radio station WBEZ FM, but it's not being covered by the main stream media - and we no longer need to speculate why.

From the article:

"Speaking of the Warren Court its interpretation of the Constitution during the Civil Rights movement, Obama said, "It wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. At least as it's been interpreted and more important interpreted in the same way that, generally, the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties; says what the states can't do to you, what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the state government or federal government must do on your behalf."

Actually, it does. The federal government must provide for the common defense, a military to provide and ensure National Security. The "essential constraints" placed into the Constitution by the Founding Fathers was to ensure a limited government, not a pervasive and massive federal government providing all things to all people.

Obama laments in the interview that the Warren Supreme Court failed to reinterpret the Constitution to read into it what was not there: Redistribution of wealth for "political and economic justice in this society.""

For all the criticisms from the left about the right 'jumping to conclusions' and with their contortions in trying to defend Obama and his comments, I just don't see any defense to this recording, as there is no misinterpretation of his own, extended, explanation about redistribution.

The man actually believes it's a civil right to take from people who have things and give to people who don't - and to use the force of government to do so. And he seems to believe that this is inherent in the U.S. Constitution. What's also scary, to me, is not just that he believes it and is running on such a platform for the highest office in the country, but that he teaches/taught this as a law professor and the people of this country are embracing it.

Tom at BizzyBlog provides the following transcript:

OBAMA: You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the courts, I think where it succeeded was to get formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples -- so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order, and as long as I was able to pay for it I'd be OK. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

And to that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted. And one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which to bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.

..... Karen (Caller): The gentleman made the point that the Warren Court wasn't terribly radical with economic changes. My question is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place?

Host: You mean the courts?

Karen: The courts, or would it be legislation at this point?

Obama: Maybe I'm showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. Y'know, the institution just isn't structured that way.

You look at very rare examples where during the desegregation era where the court, for example, was willing to, for example, order changes that cost money to local school districts, and the court was very uncomfortable with it. It was hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, y'know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.

The court's just not very good at it, and politically it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So, I mean, I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, y'know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts. .....


jmanoh said...

I read Maggie Thurber's 10/26/08 editorial in the Toledo Free Press with both amusement and horror. I was amused by the indignation she expressed over the idea of taxes redistributing wealth. I was horrified at Ms. Thurber's apparent ignorance on a subject she seems to feel she is an expert. Sure, Karl Marx wrote "From each according to his ability to each according to his need." Do you know where else we can read a similar sentiment? The Holy Bible. Yep, look in Acts 11.27-30 and you will read that there was a famine in Judea. In response the disciples (those Socialists!) determined "...every one according to his ability, to send relief...and they did so, sending it to the elders..." Ms. Thurber also seemed to be suggesting that redistributing wealth was some foreign concept being introduced here by those darn Democrats. What does Ms. Thurber think the U.S. tax code is designed to do? It has always served as a way for the government to take money from citizens and redistribute it where it saw fit. That redistribution might be to fight a war, or build roads, or help the poor & sick.

Timothy W Higgins said...


So now we see that Sen Obama would like to do away with the separation of powers, and give the courts the freedom to create law, redistribute wealth, and determine fiscal policy. If this were the case, than he shouldn't be running for president, as the office is superfluous.

One minor correction however. Sen Obama would like to call himself a law professor, but was only a lecturer. Anything more is taking on airs.

Maggie said...

jmanoh - you are twisting biblical preachings to fit your idea of what the Democrat candidate is proposing.

There's a difference between me voluntarily giving of my resources to help those in need and the government, through force of law, taking what I make/earn/have in order to give it to people government deems to be more deserving.

You also confuse an appropriate 'taking' for the purpose of national defense, roads, and other Constitutionally mandated duties of the federal government with charity - which our founders said 'was no part of the role of government.'

Instead of being "horrified" at my "apparent ignorance," you should be spending your time doing your homework about the distinctions between government taking and charity, between socialism and a republic, and between what the tax code was originally intended to do versus how it has been so distorted to the point it is today.

Furthermore, you should probably read the U.S.Constitution and inform all of us 'ignorant' people just where it authorizes the federal government to take from one in order to give to another whom it deems more deserving.

Finally - go back and read your Bible. Jesus instructed each of His followers to care for the poor - not to abdicate that responsibility by using the force of governmment to take from us and do it in our stead.

jmanoh said...

US COnstitution, Section. 8.

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States." Call it what you will but if the government can collect it from someone and use it for "the general welfare" that's the government redistributing wealth. As to the The Bible I think it was that Socialist Jesus who instructed us to "render unto Ceasar." If the wealthiest Americans would willingly provide for the general welfare instead of hiding behind tax shelters we wouldn't need an IRS but that's not how it goes.

Maggie said...

jmanoh - so you interpret 'general welfare' to mean anything you want it to...

So now go and do all the research you can on how the founding fathers defined 'general welfare' paying strict attention to this:

Perhaps no phrase found in the Constitution has been more distorted in actual use and application than the provision that one broad purpose of our government is to promote the general welfare throughout the United States. The Constitution's Article I, Section 8, assigns Congress the "power to lay and collect taxes ... to pay the debts and provide for the ... general welfare of the United States." Certainly, if the Founders had meant this purpose to include any action that might possibly benefit citizens generally, the Constitution itself could have been limited to this solitary statement. Justice, defense, and liberty, after all, are of good effect on the general welfare of the nation as a whole.

But the Founders also ratified the Constitution's 10th Amendment, affirming, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Thus, the general welfare cannot reasonably be stretched to allow the national level of government to perform functions and exercise powers beyond those specifically and explicitly listed in the Constitution. As James Madison described the limitations on interpretation of the general welfare clause, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one...."

gordon gekko said...

I think we should have a democratic vote and vote on whether jmanoh should keep any of his income.

Surely, since it is a democratic process, he'll abide by the vote results.

So let's pick a issue in society, (ie homelessness), have a vote on how much of jmamoh's money we'll take to give to a purpose more benevolent than his uses and see what he has to say about it.

Surely, a homeless person can use the $5,000 he has in savings more than he can use it.

He was probably just going to buy a few beers with his money anyway.

By the way, God told me to post this so it's all right in line with biblical principles.

Mad Jack said...

The man actually believes it's a civil right to take from people who have things and give to people who don't - and to use the force of government to do so.

Which is the way taxation is supposed to work. The 'haves' must be forced to part with a portion of their ill-gotten gains and distribute the gains to the downtrodden but deserving 'have nots'. The problem is that this isn't working.

First off, Obama will decide just who those people are that 'have' an excess of wealth, and will then decide who the 'have nots' are. The wealth will be duly confiscated from that group.

Secondly, instead of giving the wealth away to the less fortunate the confiscated wealth will be managed by the federal government. The government will say that things are actually better now that the poor and downtrodden have the wealth.

Finally it will be noted that the poor and downtrodden 'have nots' are increasing in number as well as in their needs, so more wealth must be confiscated from the 'haves'.

Who by this time are either dead broke or have hidden their ill-gotten gains in offshore accounts are are busy trying to learn to speak, read and write enough Thai to buy a new home in Bangkok.

I've been poor. According to Obama I'm rich, but I'll tell you what - I'm not. I can't afford to pay more taxes. The money just isn't there.

Roman said...

The Constitution says to "promote", not "provide" for general wellfare. Consfication of some peoples money, because they have "too much" and giving to other people because they want it is a recipe for certain disaster. Witness the "war on poverty", not much sucess there. If you want more of something: subsidize it, if you want less, tax it. Works every time it is tried.

Jay Ott said...

I would have to agree that Acts 11:27-30 seems to be advocating socialism but only because people desperately want to intermingle the "two kingdoms"--"Render to Caesar. . . ." makes a distinction between "secular/civil realm and sacred/ecclesiastical realm".

It's not teaching socialism at all if people bother to ask some very basic questions:

1. What is the nature of the book of Acts? What is the general theme? What is its general purpose?

2. who are the people doing the collecting and distributing? To whom is the relief being sent? Where in this passage is the gov't mentioned?

3. Why should Acts 11:27-30 be turned into a principle for the secular realm of gov't when it was intended to operate within the Kingdom of God? As far as the Church is concerned, what is the primary task of the Church? Social programs or the Great Commission?

4. Did the diciples use force or was this decison to take up a collection voluntary?

"In other words, Jesus is not a socialist. Nor is he a liberal. In fact, in none of the Bible passages just cited, nor in any others I know of, does Jesus, God or even Moses cite the government as the means by which the poor, needy, widowed and orphaned are housed, clothed and fed."

See this recent article at WorldNetdaily:

Scott Sanzenbacher said...

The 'haves' must be forced to part with a portion of their ill-gotten gains and distribute the gains to the downtrodden but deserving 'have nots'.

Really? This is how it's supposed to work? How do you know you're only taxing the people with ill-gotten gains? If their gains are so ill-gotten, don't you think something should be done about this instead of taking a share of the dirty money? And how do you know that you're only giving money to the deserving 'have nots?' Aren't there plenty of 'have nots' out there who could be 'haves,' if only they'd do something about the fact that they 'have not' rather than just complaining about it? Yes, there are also those who legitimately need help, but how do you distinguish?

Even in this economy, there is work to be done and money to be made by doing such work. All you have to do is go out there and make that money. It's not always as easy as that, I admit, but it can be done. However, many people in this country want to stifle growth by punishing the person who goes out and works for their money.

There are many people who call hard-earned money 'ill gotten' just because they think it is too large a sum. There are many people out there who think that a person is evil and taking advantage of another if he pays them, say, $15 and hour and gets $25 an hour from the person's work. Let's remember, the person is still making $15 an hour for the work they're doing. The person, sometimes, could still cut out the middle man and make $25 an hour for the same work, but they like the security of an employer. They like having a steady income.

People benefit from the work of others, yes, but they also take a greater risk. An entrepreneur faces many challenges, but the work can also be rewarding in many ways. So why should the person who risked everything to follow their dream and took innovative approaches to beat out their competition be forced to give more of that money back TO the competition. It stifles growth, it stifles independence, it stifles hard work, and it stifles freedom. It goes completely against the principles that this country was built upon, the principles that make it so great.

The answer is not more taxes and a redistribution of wealth. A part of the answer is lower taxes and a free market where competition is a driving force for higher wages, better products and a stronger economy.

This being said, I do understand that any singular paradigm takes a certain degree of idealism and faith in humanity. However, allowing the market and competition to be motivators is not nearly as idealistic as thinking that people are going to work harder to grow and create something new if they can just sit back and have the same wealth redistributed to them.

jmanoh said...

"In other words, Jesus is not a socialist. Nor is he a liberal. In fact, in none of the Bible passages just cited, nor in any others I know of, does Jesus, God or even Moses cite the government as the means by which the poor, needy, widowed and orphaned are housed, clothed and fed."

Well, in Marxist thought the government whiters away so in a pure Socialist economy the government wouldn't actually be doing anything.

Mad Jack said...

How do you know you're only taxing the people with ill-gotten gains?

Well, I'll have to ask Obama about that, because HE knows. See?

Scott Sanzenbacher said...

Well, I'll have to ask Obama about that, because HE knows. See?

Ha ha ha. Ideed, he does. He saves kittens from trees, you know, and stops world hunger in a single bound ... with nothing but his own ... bare ... hands ...

the same hands he uses to pickpocket America.

-Sepp said...

One added thing with the "general welfare".
"Welfare" as we know it today was called "relief" up until the Great society program changed the name.
So, the term "welfare" in the preamble does not mean welfare checks!

Chili Dog said...

the old adage goes when you point the finger, three fingers are pointing back at you.

i understand that most of the visitors to this site would like to keep all of their money, banish the poor and downtrodden to some isolated asylum and go one merrily with their lives.

but since that will not happen, how about you come to your senses about this "spreading the wealth" socialism argument, because most people are smart enough to know better.

but since maggie insists on continuing to point the finger, allow me to quote from socialist dogma.

"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."

words of sarah palin.

i would suggest one take a glance at Alaska to see true socialism at work.

Maggie said...

Chilidog - you continue to make falacious arguments.

1) No one on this site has suggested that people should ignore those in need. You seem to think it appropriate to dictate to them HOW they should help by supporting the marxist philosophy to allow the federal government to do it.

I want to - and do - help my fellow citizens in many ways. And since you don't know how any of us do such acts of charity, SHAME ON YOU for making such an accusation.

The difference is that you think government should force people to do acts of charity. The 'force' makes it no longer charity.

Additionally, you think that because you CHOOSE to let government do this for you, that you have the right or ability to make everyone else do it 'your' way.

2) You continue to make arguments about the funding of public infrastucture and public works as being equiavalent to 'gifts' from the public treasury for individuals. There is no comparison. They are two different things. Most people, while they may question how much it costs to do such things as roads and national defense, don't object to the approach of taxing to provide for them. However, even a large majority of Democrats object to taking (through taxation) from those that 'have' and giving (through refunds/credits/welfare) to those who don't have.

3) You neglect to recognize the difference between the authority of the federal government vs. the authorities of the various states. If a state chooses to act in such a way and doesn't force its approach upon other states, that is the decision of those within the state and, as our founders intended, if you don't like it you don't have to live there. The federal government has strict restrictions on its authority and 'redistribution of wealth' is not one of the authorities. I notice you still haven't answered the question of where, in the Constitution, the government has the authority to take from one in order to give to another.

4) IMHO, a state making a decision to 'own' certain of it's natural resources, is the right of its people. I don't have to agree with the position in order to respect that the state has such authority, under the Constitution.

You seem to want to imply that because some other entity does it, it's somehow contradictory to the position I've taken that the PRESIDENT promoting such an approach is wrong. Again - a falacious argument that deserves no rebuttal because it makes no valid point.

Chili Dog said...

no. you completely misunderstand me.

you are making obama into a "socialist" when he is advocating a policy that has been in place in this country for many, many years.

also, there is an overwhelming theme in this space that people want to keep their wealth, or decide what to do with it. if they want to be charitable, then they will decide who to give it to. which is all well and good.

i would be more than happy to read your opinion of what mccain has said to indicate any change in the status quo with regard to "wealth redistribution" as it exists today.

i've heard nothing from him, except this exchange with Larry King:

KING: Concerning spreading the wealth, isn’t the graduated income tax spreading the wealth? If you I and pay more so that 'Jimmy' can get some, some for him--or pay for a welfare recipient, that’s spreading the wealth.

MCCAIN: That’s spreading the wealth in the respect that we do have a graduated income tax. That’s a far cry from taking from one group of Americans and giving to another. I mean that’s dramatically different. I mean Senator Obama has clearly talked about for years redistributive policices. And that’s not the way we create wealth in America.

Taking from one group and give to another is dramatically different than a graduated tax? or does he means take from whites and give to blacks?


the constitution is not the body of laws. for instance, it does not reference telecommunications, airplane safety, etc. it establishes the branches of government and give each the authority to act in accord with the powers and restriction the constitution imposes.

if you have an issue with one branch or another acting outside their constitutional powers, then take them to the judicial branch and let them decide.

Maggie said...

Chili Dog - so your entire argument boils down to "McCain does it too."

So what? Because you think McCain wants to continue the socialist tendencies of our Congress that somehow makes it wrong for me to call Obama what he is???

Sorry - falacious arguments again.

I am consistent in my opposition to the socialist actions Congress has taken. I oppose them all the time. Just because it's happened in the past doesn't make it right - or give a presidental candidate the authority to expand such actions.

And when you have people like Obama and many in Congress who have a litmus test for judicial appointees - and lower level judges who believe that they should be able to legislate from the bench, this is what you get...distortions of the authorities and RESTRICTIONS set out in our Constitution.

Again - you do not answer any of the questions posed to you. You merely say that since others are or have done it, I shouldn't criticize Obama.

Sorry - that doesn't fly on this blog.

Maggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy W Higgins said...


Somehow lost in deciding what candidate should wear what title these days is an understanding of what has gone wrong in the current discussions regarding taxation.

Most taxation plans in the US are written based on an economic principle called the “Veil of Ignorance” by John Rawls. It states that a tax plan should be written as if you were just born and had no idea what your abilities would be, who you would be, and what amount of money you would make when it was written.

Changing those principles in the name of "Fairness" or "Redistribution" repudiates the fundamentals of the process in the name of political agenda. No matter what you want to call it, it must not be allowed to happen.

Google Analytics Alternative