Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

23 December 2009

The Religious Left: The Audacity of Obama's Anti-Capitalism

By Gina Liggett

Obama's Economic Ideas are Mystical Mumbo-Jumbo

President Obama may have chosen as his official home church the same one attended by his political opposite, the Religious-Right-placating G.W. Bush. But to meet his true spiritual needs, Obama has surrounded himself with spiritual advisers that come straight from the Religious Left, like his former pastor Black Liberation Theology-proponent Jeremiah Wright.

Let's take Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This enthralling minister really works the congregation into a lather, preaching in a dramatic, rhythmical, and provocative vocal style. Once listeners are primed like an intoxicated audience at a rock concert with Bible quotes and thanks to Jesus, she begins to screech her circuitous point that "although we have deprivation... and... wounds... nothing can get in the way of God's love." The riveting sermon is tapped off with soulful gospel music that could convert even an agnostic.

But there's more to Bishop McKenzie than bringing Jesus to life at the pulpit. She's vehemently anti-capitalist, as exemplified by her speech, "Who Benefits," in which she links AIDS in Africa, the war in Iraq, "predatory" lending, and the pharmaceutical industry with purported evils of the profit motive. She never makes a logical argument defining profit in the first place, or why the profit motive is bad, but instead relies on explicit innuendo and her charismatic presentation style to transmit her disgust of American capitalism. She simply says, "if we track the money, we'll find out... Follow the money..."

And THISSSSSZZZZZ-AAAHHH, is one of Obama's closest advisers.

The notion that pursuing wealth for one's own benefit is cold and thoughtless comes from the religion shared by Obama and McKenzie. Obama aligns his ideals for the country with Black Liberation theories of social disorder, in which America is a zero-sum battle between social classes (from his book, "The Audacity of Hope," p. 215):

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness -- the desire among those at the top of the social ladder to maintain their wealth and status whatever the cost, as well as the despair and self-destructiveness among those at the bottom of the social ladder. ... I am suggesting that if we [Christian] progressives shed some of our own biases, we might recognize... the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of "thou" and not just "I."
Obama is appallingly ignorant of business and capitalism, characterizing them as "winner take all." In a March 2008 speech, he chastised companies for their audacity to be profitable: "[T]he real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit."

In his book he at least acknowledges America's economic achievements and the kind of social system that made this progress possible:
It takes a trip overseas to fully appreciate just how good Americans have it; even our poor take for granted goods and services -- electricity, clean water, indoor plumbing, telephones, television, and household appliances -- that are still unattainable for most of the world... Our greatest asset has been our system of social organization, a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative, and the efficient allocation or resources.
However, Obama undertakes no philosophical analysis whatsoever to explain how the social system created these life-enhancing things. So, it's easy for him to evade facts, formulate irrational ideas, rattle off lots of data in a clever way, and come up with floating, conflicting, and mystical explanations that conform to his Black Liberation worldview.

As an prime example, in a speech also entitled, "The Audacity of Hope," given at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama espouses the contradictory notion that individuals can pursue happiness while living in a society that requires God-inspired sacrifice for the benefit of collectivist categories of people. He said,
It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead. I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.
Obama Performs a Perfect Marriage of Religion and Leftism

Obama finds the perfect pragmatic model for carrying out his good works: FDR's huge federal government. He says in his book (AOH, p.176):
FDR led the nation to a new social compact -- a bargain between government, business, and workers that resulted in widespread prosperity and economic security for more than fifty years...[T]hat security rested on... a job that paid enough... a package of health and retirement benefits from his employer, and a government safety net -- Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment insurance..... ut his compact also rested on an understanding that a system of sharing risks and rewards can actually improve the workings of the market.
Obama Thinks Big Government ROCKS

Obama actually believes that government is better at managing people's lives than individuals themselves in a free market.
[A]lthough the benefits of our free-market system have mostly derived from the individual efforts of generations of men and women pursuing their own vision of happiness, in each and every period of great economic upheaval and transition we've depended on government action to open up opportunity, encourage competition, and make the market work better...
Retirement and Health Care...

As an example, Obama disparages the "Ownership Society" for legitimately exercising their property rights concerning retirement and health care (AOH, p. 179). His ignorance of economics is also evidenced.
Take the [Bush] Administration's attempt to privatize Social Security... that the stock market can provide individuals a better return on investment... But individual investment decisions will always produce winners and losers... What would the Ownership Society do with the losers? Unless we're willing to see seniors starve on the street, we're going to have to cover their retirement expenses... In other words, the Ownership Society doesn't even try to spread the risks and rewards of the new economy among all Americans. Instead it magnifies the uneven risks and rewards of today's winner-take-all economy.
And in a July 2009 news conference on health care he rambles on and on, tossing out mind-numbing "this" and poor-Joe-family "that" and how government can somehow sort it all out, because the "American people need some relief." Obama says, "The House suggested a surcharge on wealthy Americans. And my understanding, although I haven't seen the final versions, is that there has been talk about making that basically only apply to families whose joint income is $1 million."

As we know, the House passed in October a multi-billion dollar bill that in fact surcharges "wealthy" Americans to help pay for it.

Economic Recovery...

And you can follow the progress of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, delivered right in the comfort of your own home by Obama and his Congress for a few billions and billions of dollars. Follow how it's going to create jobs, save jobs, spur economic activity and economic growth. To borrow Bishop McKenzie's words, "follow the money."

Financial Reform...

As far as the financial sector goes, Obama doesn't hesitate to place full blame on Wall Street for the financial crisis:
We were on the verge of a complete financial meltdown. And the reason was because Wall Street took extraordinary risks with other people's money...(H)ear my words: We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses.

And get ready for this one from September 2009: "We have a host of members of Congress, but there's one that I have to single out because he is going to be helping to shape the agenda going forward to make sure that we have one of the strongest, most dynamic, and most innovative financial markets in the world for many years to come, and that's my good friend, Barney Frank." [emphasis mine]

Just to remind you, despite warnings going back to 2001 that the quasi-governmental lending giants Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were on the brink of an insolvency that could spread to the whole financial system, the now-Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Barney Frank, said everything was just fiiiinnnnne. Obama ignores this fact and argues instead for sweeping regulatory control over the financial markets.

The Audacity to Take Our Money

Obama contradicts himself again and holds back some love of FDR, and decides to go for a kind of middle-ground way to implement his Religious Leftism. He claims that neither Democratic New Deal policies or Republican Reaganomics will work in today's global economy. He writes, "But our history should give us confidence that we don't have to choose between an oppressive, government-run economy and a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism." (?!) -- [my own facial tic, sorry]...

Blah Blah Blah...

"We should be guided by what works." "(I)nvestment" in education, "provid(ing) many students and parents with more direct help in meeting college expenses... [I]nvest[ing] in our future innovators -- by doubling federal funding of basic research over the next five years... It's hard to overstate the degree to which our addiction to oil undermines our future... It undermines our national security... And then there are the environmental consequences of our fossil fuel-based economy... What we can do is create renewable, cleaner energy sources for the 21st century... [We should] demand that 1 percent of the revenues from oil companies with over $1 billion in quarterly profits go towards financing alternative energy research and the necessary infrastructure."

But What of the Individual?

The Religious Left has big plans to create an egalitarian and "just" America by doing good works of Jesus. Obama and Congress are going to accomplish this by a massive wealth re-distribution scheme and lots of borrowing. And they're going to sell it to America by invoking the power of envy and religious indignation.

If only we could convince them to read Ayn Rand's "Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal" and Andrew Bernstein's, "The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophical Case for Laissez-Faire." They would learn that statism and freedom are mutually exclusive and incompatible.

I like the way Dr. Bernstein puts it: "Is a human being a sovereign individual who owns his life, mind, effort and its products -- or is he a slave to society, who can control his life, dictate his thinking and expropriate his property?"

And the final word on capitalism I take away from Obama and give to Ayn Rand
If there were such a thing as a passion for equality (not equality de jure, but de facto), it would be obvious to its exponents that there are only two ways to achieve it: either by raising all men to the mountaintop--or by razing the mountains. The first method is impossible because it is the faculty of volition that determines a man's stature and action; but the nearest approach to it was demonstrated by the United States and capitalism, which protected the freedom, the rewards and the incentives for every individual's achievement, ... thus raising the intellectual, moral and economic state of the whole society.

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