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It’s Not Yours to Begin With


Barack Obama when he was only 40:

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… 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.

I don’t know why Obama’s supporters object to the airing of these quotes. His past views, his tax plan, and other spontaneous offerings (“Spread the wealth around”) are a fair enough representation of a European socialist view of how to take money from higher wage earners and redistribute it to the less well off, apparently on the twin premises that one’s income is really property of the state, and, that the mechanism by which a market compensates people is arbitrary and unfair and in need of ‘redistributive change.’ This view is shared by former associates like Wright and Ayers, Obama’s parents, and almost everyone in his circle in Chicago.

There should be no apologies for such views, since until 2005 (when he was ascended to the Senate and broke off contact with Ayers) they were a proud part of the Obama hope and change agenda.

I was reminded of such a well-worn ideology two years ago recovering from an emergency ruptured appendix operation in a Libyan state-run, universal health-care clinic in Tripoli, where an exasperated doctor lamented to me that the fellow who was mopping the floor beside the bed by fiat made exactly what he did. Perhaps we can bring such an ‘redistributive’ ideology to Hollywood and the university where a Tim Robbins or Cornell West would make after taxes (or perhaps even before?) exactly what those who cleaned up the set or office did.


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