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    Obamarama 2008: Obama’s American Dream

    February 18, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    We all want progress.
    But progress means getting nearer to the place
    where you want to be.
    And if you have taken a wrong turning,
    then to go forward
    does not get you any nearer.
    If you are on the wrong road,
    progress means doing an about-turn
    and walking back to the right road;
    and in that case
    the man who turns back soonest
    is the most progressive man.
    -C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

    Happy President’s Day, and welcome to Obamarama 2008. This is a week-long romp through the real content available concerning Barak Hussein Obama’s positions, beliefs, convictions, and whatnot. I am utilizing various sources: speeches, voting record, statements posted on official website, etc. All the while I’ve been doing the research, I’m looking for words that have real, defined meaning.

    Words like progress, change, and unity are favorites for politicians because they can be twisted any which way.

    So what do you think of when you consider the so-called American Dream? House, white-picket fence, 1.8 kids and 2 dogs? Two-car garage? Lots of stuff filling the rooms of that house? What is it?

    For me, the American Dream, if I’m going to call it that, exists in the world of ideas. It’s not about stuff, because stuff changes over time. What is valuable to one generation can be useless to the next. So if I’m going to consider a transcendent American Dream, it needs to be ideas.

    A great starting point is the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Life? My right to live. My neighbor’s right to live. And my unborn child’s right to live. Liberty? Freedom from government intervention when I speak political speech, when I worship my God, when I vote, when I buy a gun, when I meet with others. Pursuit of happiness? The only thing guaranteed is the pursuit. My government and my neighbor do not owe me success in my ventures. Some of us may be more successful than others due to our talents, giftings, and work ethic, and that is okay with me.

    One person’s fortune is, after all, not my misfortune.

    So this is the bare-bones outline of the American Dream as I see it. Transcendent. Fairly true to the Founder’s intentions as I understand them.

    Obama’s definition is different from mine.

    In a press release on 12.19.07, the Obama Campaign declared:

    Barack Obama’s comprehensive plan to help working families reclaim the American Dream will:

    * Provide a middle class tax cut of $500 for 150 million working Americans – $1,000 per working family – and eliminate the income tax for 7 million seniors making less than $50,000 per year.

    * Address the challenge of balancing work and family by guaranteeing workers paid sick days, expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act {FMLA}, supporting paid FMLA, and doubling funding for after-school programs.

    * Help Americans buy and keep their homes – including a tax credit to help more than 10 million American homeowners pay their mortgages, with an average of $500 in savings.

    * Protect American families by reforming bankruptcy laws, predatory credit card policies, and abusive payday lending practices.

    * Reduce health care costs by $2,500 for a typical family.

    * Strengthen retirement security by automatically enrolling workers in portable retirement accounts and providing additional incentives for Americans to save.

    * Put the cost of college in reach by providing a $4,000 refundable tax credit available at the time of enrollment, and create a Community College Partnership Program to strengthen this vital resource for American students.

    * Ease the financial hardship of rising home heating costs by releasing a portion of the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve to stabilize prices and funding and expanding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

    Let’s break this down a bit:

    1. Tax relief for the poor. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but the problem is what else he wants to do. Letting them (Us? I wonder how he defines “poor.” We often qualify…) keep their own money isn’t enough. Because…
    2. He’s going to guarantee that we get sick days off paid, plus he’s going to pay for the after-school care for our kids. One thing to ask ourselves is where the money will come from. Sick days are great, but let us not forget that our employer pays for them. Essentially, the employer pays us not to work. It is wonderful when an employer can be so generous. But how much liberty is involved (and how much generosity, which much necessarily be free) when such things are compulsory? On the other hand, our fellow taxpayers will foot the bill, paying to care for our children while we work. So we won’t pay much in taxes, but taxes will pay a lot for us!
    3. Help us buy and keep our homes. He’ll give us a tax credit, but I’m concerned by the language. It implies that everyone should own a home. I agree this is ideal. But some folks don’t own homes because they’ve been irresponsible. Or because they live somewhere where the school districts have so pushed up the cost of living that they would have to relocate in order to afford a home of their own. This is a complicated issue. And the more the government has gotten involved, the more complicated it has become.
    4. He will protect us by reforming bankruptcy laws. Would this make it easier for us to go bankrupt? Easier for us to bow out on our debts? Refusing to pay a person we owe is sinful behavior. Is Obama saying he will encourage this? And though he’s going get rid of “abusive lending practices,” I have yet to hear him {or anyone else} comment on how he would encourage the elimination of a debt-based economy {which is completely unbiblical, by the way}.
    5. He’ll reduce our health care costs by $2500 per year on average. Will he do this by stealing that money from someone richer than us and using those stolen dollars to pay for our health care? Or will he force our employers, already suffering under the heavy government hand, to try and come up with all of the money for health care? And has anyone noticed that the more “guaranteed” health care is, the higher the cost becomes? And I wonder how many jobs will be lost when employers have to come up with all this extra money?
    6. He’s gonna require us to get an IRA. This sounds to me like Big Brother is going to help us be more responsible by making decisions for us. We can start an IRA now, of course. We have that right. Anyone in this country already has the freedom to go and start saving for retirement today. Right now. The difference is that the Obama Plan will try to make it mandatory. We will be able to opt-out of the program, from my understanding.
    7. He’s going to “put the cost of college within reach”…by giving us money, of course. He’ll give us a tax credit. Around $4000 actually. And most of us “poor” don’t pay that much in taxes, so this is actually taking someone else’s money and giving it to us. It’s kind of like getting paid to go to school instead of getting a job. Makes me itch for a master’s degree.
    8. He’s even going to pay for the cost of heating our homes in the winter! We will be warm and toasty all winter long, and it’s free to us! Some rich guy out there somewhere will pay for it for us, and it doesn’t matter because we deserve a cut of that guy’s wealth. After all, he’s just lucky.

    My belief is that the Obama campaign, like many other campaigns, appeals to sinful vices, most notably class envy. I will go into greater detail on this later in the week. Well, I will if I remember to! I have pregnancy brain fog, so bear with me…or send me nagging emails.

    Obama passes the Fabian test on this one. What’s a Fabian exactly? Well, Wikipedia gives a pretty accurate definition:

    The Fabian Society is a British socialist intellectual movement, whose purpose is to advance the socialist cause by gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary means.

    I’ve quoted Griffin before:

    The Fabians were an elite group of intellectuals who formed a semi-secret society for the purpose of bringing socialism to the world. Whereas Communists wanted to establish socialism quickly through violence and revolution, the Fabians preferred to do it slowly through propaganda and legislation. The word socialism was not to be used. Instead, they would speak of benefits for the people such as welfare, medical care, higher wages, and better working conditions. In this way, they planned to accomplish their objective without bloodshed and even without serious opposition. They scorned the Communists, not because they disliked their goals, but because they disagreed with their methods. To emphasize the importance of gradualism, they adopted the turtles as the symbol of their movement.

    What we have to understand here, before we go on, is that communism and socialism have the same end goals. Yes, I would say the former is superior to the latter because of its nonviolent nature, but that is where the distinctions end. The goals of communism and socialism are the centrality and superiority of the state. This is why statism, as I call it, is in direct conflict with Christianity. When everything and everyone exists and moves and has its being with the permission of the State, when all things flow through and come from the State, the State has declared itself, for all practical purposes, God.

    And let me remind you that we have never been a socialist country {unless you count the Jamestown failure}. Is this what Obama means when he uses the word change? As most other countries in the world are fleeing their socialist failures, will Obama take down the road to the almost-total government control found in socialism?

    Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how Obama’s speech on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade embodies some of the foundational points made in Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

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  • Reply Brandy February 19, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Rahime, Hazlitt (Economics in One Lesson) would say that this is because the goal of the government in many of these situations is to provide for “full employment.” Because employment, rather than production and contribution, is the goal, the government has incentive to do things in the least efficient manner. After all, if the government builds a bridge in 5 years that a private corporation could have built in 2, so what? From this perspective, the inefficiency was actually positive because it provided an extra three years of employment to the workers.

    Of course, Hazlitt would also say that accepting this is a failure on the part of the imagination. We can see the bridge, but we have trouble imagining all the things that might have been had the private corporation been allowed to do the job quickly and move on to another task.

  • Reply Rahime February 19, 2008 at 5:16 am

    He sure sounds like he’d be an expensive president. I just wish the government would stop “giving” us stuff they think we need. Have you noticed that anything the gov. does costs twice what it would in the private sector with about 1/2 the quality?

  • Reply Brandy February 18, 2008 at 7:37 pm


    I suppose I am going off of the wording of the press release:

    Ease the financial hardship of rising home heating costs by releasing a portion of the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve to stabilize prices and funding and expanding the Low Income Home
    Energy Assistance Program.

    First, the wording seems intended to make us feel indebted to the government (and Obama) for “easing our hardship.” It doesn’t say that the government shouldn’t be controlling energy resources in the first place, and it doesn’t necessarily say this is even something that would continue. I took it as a one-time, or temporary, act of benevolence on the part of the government. And we cannot overlook the expansion of the Energy Assistance Program, which is, in effect, charging some people less for energy than others.

  • Reply SB February 18, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    This reading is ok but you miss some stuff. For example on the energy policy part of what he is proposing is to limit the amount of energy the federal government puts in reserve, i.e., get the government out of the energy market. Which I would suspect you would think was a good policy.

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