John McCain's Twisted Tax Logic

10-29-08, 9:18 am

I saw something earlier this week that even brought a chuckle to the CNN news team. A newswomen in Atlanta, who elsewhere openly expressed a clear bias in favor of John McCain, read these words to Joe Biden, 'From each according to his ability to each according to his need,' and then asked Biden if Senator Obama's tax program wasn't Marxism. Biden asked her if she were seriously asking him that and then laughed, and she looked angry and disgruntled.

Actually, given the way the media has dealt with communism, socialism, Marxism, it wasn't so funny. What the McCain campaign is trying to do, as its position grows more desperate, is to convince working-class voters that Republican tax cuts for the rich and the corporations have really been for them. The implicit argument is that giving billions to billionaires is the way working families keep their 'hard earned money,' and that Barack Obama's moderate and modest call for tax cuts for working families directly is 'socialism,' which, in a hard twist of weird logic, would take money away from working families.

As any child in a socialist country today could tell the Republicans, the principle of socialism is 'from each according to his ability to each according to his work' in a predominantly planned, publicly-owned economy. Under capitalism, those who 'hard working' people, work for others who profit from their work by keeping their labor costs as low as possible.

Capitalists confine their 'hard' work to managing their money, their investments, which is the wealth that the working class produces. Furthermore, a whole industry of 'financial planners' exists for them and the upper management of the corporations function as 'organization men' (what capitalist journalists still call 'apparatchiks' when the are dealing with functionaries under socialism) whose personal wealth derives from their service to their CEOs and CFOs, not from 'hard work.'

From each according to his ability to each according to his need is the ideal of Communism, of a future society that can come into existence after a long period of socialist development. In other words, a long period in which the productive forces have developed on the principle of each according to his ability to each according to his work, a period which would have people with special skills and abilities rewarded differentially on how much their labor has benefited the society as a whole, the common good or as the constitution of the US says, the general welfare, not what their stock portfolio is, or what they can sell in a marketplace.

David Gergen, a man I usually don't listen too much since he reminds me of a political bookie (someone who worked for Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton as a political consultant), looked pained on CNN as he listened to this nonsense. Still, he noted that the Democrats hadn't answered the 'charges' too well, reminding CNN's viewers about Theodore Roosevelt's support for progressive taxation not unlike Obama's more reserved tax policy. But Gergen did have a point, which showed that he had retained his faculties after working for Nixon and Reagan, itself something that is pretty impressive.

Socialism as a system, and there are many varieties, has at its center public ownership and public planning for production and distribution of goods and service. Regulation and taxation come into play where there is a private sector, but there is no need to tax productive public property under socialism and no real need to tax personal property (automobiles, homes, anything else) owned for personal use. Wealth is in effect reorganized under socialism, not redistributed, returned to the producers of wealth, labor.

But I don't expect the McCain campaign to understand any of that. They view private property the way socialists view public property, and have not only preached, but much more importantly have practiced enormous redistribution of wealth from the general population of wage and salaries earners to the corporations and the rich, which is why some critics call their policies 'socialism for the rich.'