Words, Definitions, and the Whole Crazy Thing

One really strange thing about the last month or so of this election has been watching Republicans go around the country calling Obama a “socialist,” while having as a candidate for Vice-President who is also the Governor of a bona fide socialist state in many respects. To wit, Alaskan government is funded primarily by public ownership of oil and natural gas resources, which business must pay royalties to extract. With increasing hydrocarbon prices, this revenue alone is enough to fund most of the state’s operations (and the rest of us make up the difference in federal earmarks). Anyway, Marc Ambinder kind of sort of pointed this out yesterday, and over at The Corner, our boy Jonah responded thusly:

Let’s leave aside the fact that you don’t actually condemn spreading the wealth around so this whole thing is a mere low-rent political hypocrisy complaint. In Alaska, the people own the oil as opposed to in Ohio where the people don’t own Joe the Plumber. That’s the system that Sarah Palin inherited. It’s also the system that produced a lot of political corruption, which is the logical result of the sort of corporatist policies favored by Barack Obama. Sarah Palin did much to clean up that corruption. Obama never dreamed of doing anything comparable in even more corrupt Chicago. The tax increase on oil companies in Alaska may or may not have been well-advised (my in-laws have very strong feelings on the matter). But as a philosophical matter comparing Barck Obama’s argument that we should soak succssful small businessmen to spread the wealth is really not comparable to the steward of a resource owned by the citizens of Alaska in effect renegotiating the deal to more favorable terms for the owners.

Got that? Leaving aside the expected falsehoods like the notion that lots of small busines owners fall in the over $250k tax bracket, the entire crux of Jonah’s argument is that progressive taxation is “socialist,” while the public (read, collective) ownership of resources and production isn’t.

Someone really ought to buy Jonah a dictionary.