Intoxicated by the mantra of change, those who support Sen. Barack Obama appear to be gleeful about the new era that would come if he won. But is America such a fundamentally flawed country that it needs the kind of change that Mr. Obama promises? If you answer yes, then you have no idea how good a country this is compared to the rest of the world.
As a naturalized American who grew up in the Third World and experienced firsthand the economic misery and impenetrable corruption under socialism, I know socialism when I see it - and I see socialism in Mr. Obama’s plans. He has skillfully disguised his socialist agenda by an oratorical cloak of populism. So, just as it takes an alert eye to spot the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, it takes an experienced eye to spot the incipient but insurgent socialism inside Mr. Obama’s agenda.
Among the indubitable indicators of Mr. Obama’s socialist beliefs is his tax plan. Most notably, he wants to tax the Dickens out of people who make more than $250,000 a year so that the government can then turn around and give that money to poor people, either as tax rebates or as services. That is Mr. Obama’s plan to spread the wealth - and that is socialism - i.e., government-enforced redistribution of wealth to people whether they earned it or not. Once he started at $250,000, who says he would stop there? Pretty soon, he could hit those who make $50,000 a year.
Mr. Obama’s harangues on denuding the rich are typical of many Third-World politicians, who, despite being well-off themselves (Mr. Obama is himself a millionaire, after all), somehow manage to bamboozle the masses into electing them on the premise that the rich are the villains.
Mr. Obama’s plan to spread the wealth by taking it from the rich and giving to the poor may sound good to liberals, but in the end, it will not please anyone. Spreading wealth is somewhat like spreading a stick of butter - spread it over too many slices of bread and pretty soon nobody can taste the butter.
The trouble with those who support socialism is that their anti-capitalist fervor has so overtaken their common sense that they fail to ask themselves how America got the high standards of living that it has. The things that most Americans take for granted - advanced medicine, safe food, air-conditioned homes, cars with automatic transmission, cell phones etc. - did not come from socialist countries. Instead, those inventions were made possible thanks to capitalism - the idea that those who are entrepreneurial should reap the benefits of their ingenuity.
Of course, the recent collapse of Wall Street is hardly the milieu in which one should tout capitalism’s blessings. But the whole of capitalism cannot be judged by a few bad weeks coming after decades of prosperity. After all, you would not say the typical weather in Florida is terrible merely because it has gotten a Category 5 hurricane once in several decades, would you? Even the poorest Americans have better access to higher-quality services than millions of people living in the Third World. For instance, clean water is a luxury in many parts of the world. The police will protect you only if you bribe them. The schools will educate your children only if you belong to the ruling political party. Thankfully, none of those things are the prevailing reality in America.
Yet, Mr. Obama and his supporters seem to think that America is such a terrible place that it needs a complete overhaul. If in fact America is such a terrible place, then why are millions of immigrants coming here from all over the world? I will tell you why: They know that the capitalist system we have here, despite its faults, is still the only system that provides the most opportunities for success.
If Mr. Obama became president, it would be the first time in history that an American president hailed from a Third-World lineage (Mr. Obama’s father came from Kenya, an unmistakably Third World country). Now, since you cannot change where your parents came from, there is nothing inherently wrong with a president having Third-World parents. However, in Mr. Obama’s case, this Third-World nexus is relevant because it may help explain his apparent proclivity for radical socialist ideas commonly seen in the Third World.
So, as we near the election, we Americans must ask ourselves if we really think America is such a bad place that we should turn it over to someone who wants to radically change it. For my part, that is change I do not believe in.
Ian de Silva is an engineer who has side interests in politics and history.