On the Backs of the Productive

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking on “Fox News Sunday” this week, cited these statistics, which are remarkable though not in the way that Geithner meant:

And remember this country, this great nation with our great resources today, one in eight Americans are eligible for food stamps today. Forty percent of Americans born today are born to families eligible for Medicaid. The idea that you can ask the American people to balance this budget on the backs of the elderly and the most vulnerable with no burden through tax reforms on the most fortunate Americans is fundamentally unacceptable.

Who are on whose backs?

Note Geithner’s phrase “this great nation with our great resources.” Evidently, Geithner means this phrase literally: that the resources of individual Americans belong to the nation.

Note also Geithner’s words “vulnerable” and “fortunate.” These words evade the crucial issue: Who produced the “great resources”? Who has a right to them?

Geithner’s choices of words are no accident. They reflect a philosophy that permeates the Obama Administration and Obama: that wealth and poverty are matters of luck, that therefore all resources morally belong to society, that therefore the wealthy are a burden to the poor, and that therefore the government must even out the luck and the burden by taking from the rich (the lucky) and giving to the least able to survive on their own (the most vulnerable).

Marx’s phrase, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” though evil, at least acknowledges openly that it is men of ability who produce wealth.
Geithner’s notion is less honest and more depraved: From each according to his fortune, to each according to his inability.

That no Republican ever challenges these notions is why the Republicans cannot win the current conflict over the budget and the debt ceiling, and cannot save America from eventual collapse.

One thought on “On the Backs of the Productive

  1. Good stuff Ron.

    Marx: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”

    Capitalism: “TO each according to his ability, FROM each according to his need”

    What a difference a preposition makes!

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