The Argument Against Generosity

McCain Hammers Away at ‘Spreading the Wealth’

Elizabeth Holmes reports from Manchester, N.H., on the presidential race.

John McCain continues to hint that Barack Obama’s economic policies teeter on socialism. He harped on the Democrat’s “spread the wealth” line at a New Hampshire rally Wednesday.

“Before government can redistribute wealth, it has to confiscate wealth from those who earned it,” McCain yelled to the crowd of about 2,000 at Saint Anselm’s college in Goffstown, N.H.

“Whatever the right word is for that way of thinking—” McCain then paused slightly, allowing someone in the crowd to fill in the blank. “Socialism!” a voice shouted.

McCain continued: “The redistribution of wealth is the last thing America needs right now. In these tough economic times, we don’t need government ‘spreading the wealth,’ we need policies that create wealth and spread opportunity.”

Washington Wire – : McCain Hammers Away at ‘Spreading the Wealth’.

When I got my first computer– an Apple IIe, bought with the money left me by my Uncle Benson– it was both a novelty and a very useful tool. If someone wanted to come over to my house and use it to write a resume (a nightmare on a typewriter) that was fine. More than a few of my friends took me up on the offer.

That seemed more like common sense than generosity. Why should the computer sit there unused when it could be used to take a tiny little bit of headache out of the world. I was reminded of that computer several times over the last several weeks, beginning with Governor Palin’s mocking, even angry sarcasm about community service.

The rhetoric of selfishness, always a staple of Republican economics, has reached a kind of crescendo recently; McCain is now mocking Obama’s reasonable idea that in hard times we need to be willing to “share the wealth.” They’ve even brought back some good old cold war sniping, calling him a near-socialist (what we once jokingly called a “pinko”).

This argument against generosity goes back to Nixon, at least, but flowered during the “greed is good” Reagan administration, around the same time I bought that first computer. It’s a kind of radical market libertarianism that has brought us most of our current economic problems, as even Alan Greenspan now admits. It can’t be allowed to win again.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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