Monday, October 27, 2008

A Tale of Two Brothers

So I have two brothers. Twins.

They couldn't be more different.

One is gay, gregarious, effusive, and a democrat. The other is straight, somewhat stoic, undemonstrative and, republican.

I have genuine appreciation for both of them, but of course, being that I lean to the left, well, I suppose I have a bit more in common with the aforementioned gay one.

The other day I caught the other one on the phone and we, tentatively, began talking politics. Usually this is a mistake, but I came prepared and careful.

Let's face it, if you have a modicum of intelligence, you can't support a Palin Vice Presidency, regardless of the role you played in Vietnam (he is a Vietnam vet) or your long history in the U.S. Navy (he's a retired Lt. Commander) or your extraordinary success as a small businessman. As you can see, he has an excellent republican voter's resume. So much so that I'm not sure which came first, the resume or the political stance.

That is all to say that he does have a modicum of intelligence and I have a healthy respect for POW's as well as for libertarianism (in theory), so we have some overlapping ground on which to base a conversation.

So after a few Palin-digs, he says to me something to the effect of being okay with Obama until he mentioned "redistributing the wealth".


Of all the over-used, misunderstood notions in American history. . .

I responded that ALL politicians redistribute wealth. It's just a matter of whether you get Peter to pay Paul or vice versa. And, of course, whether you, yourself are Peter or Paul.

I wish I had read this week's New Yorker article by Steve Coll prior to this conversation.

It talks about Obama's interaction with Joe the Plumber in which he said:

I do believe that for folks like me who've worked hard but frankly also been lucky, I don't mind paying just a little bit more than the waitress who I just met over there....She can barely make the rent....And I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.

"The principle that Obama evinced, which most economists would regard as unexceptionable, can be traced to Adam Smith. In 'The Wealth of Nations' (1776), his seminal treatise on capitalism, Smith wrote: The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor....The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess....It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.'"

Dear brother, let's focus on the real issues at hand. The real issues that might actually IMPROVE the economy for EVERYONE (not just saving a few bucks for just a few of us to use to buy more iPods, G1's, or kitchen makeovers -- I say that as we both are doing so--the kitchen makeover--and I am dreaming of the new G1, just to point out that I am not immune to greed).

Instead, and again quoting from The New Yorker:

". . . . [S]uch as what sort of economic stimulus plan to enact, and in what stages; which policies might keep the most families in their houses at the least cost; how to restructure market regulation to bring credit-default swaps and other derivatives under government oversight; and how to coordinate global reform of financial and trade imbalances."

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