The View From 1776
Friday, October 26, 2012
Under Socialism The Government Is The Economy
Obama frequently asserts that he created millions of jobs. A Washington Post columnist questions the standard liberal-progressive-socialist dogma.
Read Jobs Come From Private Sector, Not Government, by Robert J. Samuelson.
Obama’s Democrat/Socialist Party doctrine was forthrightly expressed during the time of the Kennedy administration:
Perhaps the most consequential intellectual work of the period was 1962’ s The Other America: Poverty in the United States, which became required reading for the Kennedy administration’s New Frontiersmen. The author was Michael Harrington, an influential liberal and the chairman and principal spokesman for the American Socialist Party…
Mr. Harrington’s solution to so-called structural poverty was to re-impose feudalism via a lot more government spending, forever, and a raft of new welfare agencies to provide income, housing, clothing, medical treatment, and spiritual uplift to the ‘invisible’ one-third of America. Prescribing the standard liberal-progressive-socialist nostrums, Harrington declared,
“In order to do this, there is a need for planning… What is needed is that the society make use of its knowledge in a rational and systematic way. Of course, states and cities are incapable of doing this; ... only the Federal Government has the power to abolish poverty… as a place for coordination, for planning, and the establishment of national standards.”
Michael Harrington’s 1968 Toward a Democratic Left: A Radical Program for a New Majority expressed the sense of the Great Society paradigm.
“Even in a society based on private economic power, the Government can be an agency of social, rather than corporate, purpose… This does not require a fundamental transformation of the system. It does, however, mean that the society will democratically plan “uneconomic” allocations of significant resources… Under such conditions it would be possible to realize full— and meaningful— employment for all those ready and able to work. Going beyond the quantities of the New Deal, the economy could be stimulated by promoting the affluence of the public sector rather than by tax cuts, and in the process millions of creative jobs can be designed to better the nation’s education, health, leisure, and the like. Within twenty years such a policy of social investments should end all poverty, eradicate the slums and erode the economic basis of racism. And those people who are unable to work could be provided with a guaranteed annual income instead of shoddy, uncoordinated and inadequate welfare payments… The very character of modern technology, [Harvard economist John] Galbraith says, renders the old market mechanisms obsolete. In these circumstances planning is obligatory. The state must manage the economy in order to guarantee sufficient purchasing power to buy the products of the industrial system.”
Now, more than forty years later, it is possible to review the actual results of the Great Society and of Mr. Harrington’s prescription. “Promoting the affluence of the public sector” as a means of stimulating the economy meant simply putting more people on the public payrolls. There is no evidence that this produced “millions of creative jobs” or did anything to eradicate poverty (or racism, if one is to believe black spokesmen like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) within the twenty years of Mr. Harrington’s expectations.