Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Redistribution of Peanut Butter Sandwiches...

Much has been made lately of Barack Obama's "spread the wealth around" philosophy, taking from Joe-the-plumber to give to the guys "behind him," to give them an equal chance to succeed as well as Joe has. But don't they already have an equal chance? Aren't the variables found in our individual gifts, abilities, vision, and work ethic? Or do we aspire to realize the nightmare of Kirk Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron short story? yikes--

When I indulge my indolent self, I accomplish much less than when I deliver a pep-talk to my go-getter self-- it's kind of the "two dogs at war within me" scenario.*

Being a television-free zone, I haven't been over-exposed to television ads or last night's Obama infomercial (caveat emptor: there is no money-back guarantee on this purchase and no 'do-over.' Bearing that in mind I've been fascinated by Obama's strong encouragement that people vote early instead of waiting until Election Day; it sounds so much like, "Vote for me now before you learn something that might change your mind--") but I've heard several references to Obama sharing his peanut butter and jelly sandwich in elementary school and his apparent comparison of that experience with his desire to redistribute wealth or, in his own words, "spread the wealth around."

I don't think so.

In fact, children sharing and trading lunches and sandwiches in elementary school is much more a 'free market' economy than a government redistribution economy. Remember? How often could you trade your liverwurst sandwich to another kid? I liked liverwurst but even I didn't want someone else's liverwurst sandwich; I liked the way my mom made them.

What Obama wants is for the teacher to collect all the lunches, pick out her favorite things, and then hand them back out the way she sees fit, so that it's 'fair' according to her own agenda. Guess who is 'the teacher' in Obama's left-leaning utopia?

But what if she cuts everything into pieces and divides it up, passes it back? She's still going to 'take her cut' of the pieces. In a classroom of 40 students (which was routine for my generation), she'd cut everything up into 45 pieces and she'd keep those extra 5 pieces. Maybe she'd cut it up in to 50 pieces and keep 10% and, as in the first scenario, some of those goodies are never going to be 'redistributed' back down to the classroom.

That nice piece of chocolate cake? Gone.

Now, for the kid whose mother is a drunk and who routinely gets margarine sandwiches, this is hopeful. But in your standard schoolyard economy, some kids are going to notice that he rarely gets a decent lunch and share - at least, that's what we did in the early 60s and I can't believe that my generation, the self-obsessed generation, was more inherently generous than the generations which follow.

*A man observed there were two dogs at war within him: one that does good and the other does evil. When asked which dog wins, he replied: "The one I feed the most."