Written by Mark Hendrickson
How many times have you heard President Obama express concern for the middle class? More than you can count, I’m sure. If you are in the middle class, Obama’s frequent mentions of you should make you very worried. A key part of Obama’s modus operandi is his habitual use of verbal misdirection—saying one thing and then doing the opposite.
This is a man who will affirm the truism, “none of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be,” and then, fifteen minutes later, propose increased federal spending in industries that he favors, such as green energy. (He did this in his 2011 State of the Union address.) He has earnestly told us that federal deficit spending is “not sustainable,” and then merrily continued with his budget-busting spending plans. Obama has promised “no more bailouts,” only to endorse (in the same speech—his 2012 SOTU address) the Dodd-Frankenstein monster known as “the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” that effectively guarantees future bailouts for big banks.
Obama pays lip service to the middle class because he needs their votes, but he is no friend of the middle class. Right from the start, he has favored big business at the expense of the middle class. (See, for example, Timothy P. Carney’s detailed account, Obamanomics.)
It is well known that Obama is a disciple and practitioner of the strategy and tactics of the late revolutionary Saul Alinsky, who despised the middle class, denigrating them as “materialistic, decadent… degenerate… and corrupt.” (For a well-researched discussion of the Alinksy link, read Chapter 3 of James R. Keena’s excellent book, We’ve Been Had.)
Karl Marx was another writer whose influence on Obama is well known. Marx railed against the middle class, fulminating in The Communist Manifesto, “The middle class owner of property…must be swept out of the way and made impossible.” Elsewhere in the Manifesto, Marx called for “the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie.”
Building on Marx’s concepts, Lenin sought the destruction of the bourgeois class and its values, recommending, as the strategy for annihilating the middle class, “grind[ing] them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”
Is Obama acting on the basis of this Marxist-Leninist animus against the middle class? Certainly, nobody can honestly argue that middle-class Americans as a whole have prospered under the Obama administration. The official unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high, while the percentage of adult Americans working has declined to historic lows. Meanwhile, during the Obama era, median family income has dropped several thousand dollars while the median net worth of Americans has dropped as much as 40%. Meanwhile, savers earn microscopic returns and effectively grant interest-free loans to the government as a result of the Federal Reserve’s zero-interest-rate policy.
Such dismal data should be of no surprise to anyone who understands economics. Obama’s ideology is plainly Marxian, shown in his antipathy for entrepreneurs (“you didn’t build that”). As I have argued elsewhere, Obama’s economic policies have been those of a dedicated Marxist-Leninist. He has worked to advance the implementation of all ten planks in Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” outlining how to impose socialism incrementally.
As for Lenin’s fiendish plan to crush the middle class with taxes and inflation, Obama has increased taxes by over $6 trillion (I refer here to Obama’s deficits, which are taxes that will fall on future taxpayers) and the Federal Reserve inflationary dollar-creating policy (“quantitative easing”) that already is eating away at the purchasing power of the dollar while sowing the seeds of severe future inflation. Many Americans have been beguiled by Obama’s rhetoric about raising taxes on “the rich.” They overlook the mathematical fact that “the rich” (even as liberally defined by Obama) don’t have enough money to keep the Obama/progressive wealth redistribution game going, and that, sooner or later, the heaviest economic burden will have to fall on the middle class.
The American middle class should never underestimate an ambitious politician’s willingness to impose economic hardship on the country to achieve his political goals. Indeed, Obama is far from the first Democrat to take advantage of the “Curley effect,” but he may be the most zealous. Apparently influenced by the Cloward-Piven stragtegy of bringing about the financial collapse of the U.S. by overloading government transfer programs, Obama has presided over explosive growth in the number of Americans on the food stamps program and federal disability.
Large segments of the American middle class either do not understand what Obama is trying to do, or else they have been intellectually crippled by “higher education,” causing them to suffer from the delusion that Obama’s path is righteous and just. An earlier, non-Marxian commentator on the American scene, the acerbic H. L. Mencken, scornfully referred to the American middle class as “the booboisie,” and expressed his cynicism in the memorable and currently apropos aphorism, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
Lenin once gloated, “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” He was wrong, because the inherent flaws of socialism collapsed the Soviet Union. But, as Emerson once said, “A nation never falls but by suicide,” so while we avoided selling the fatal rope to a foreign enemy, we might have elected our own hangman.
Mark Hendrickson teaches economics at Grove City College. He writes the "No Panaceas" blog at Forbes.com and is a contributing editor of the St. Croix Review. Hendrickson's most recent book is "God and Man on Wall Street: The Conscience of Capitalism" with Craig Columbus.