Obama, Income Inequality, and the Constitution


OBAMAWhile delivering a speech on Wednesday, December 4, President Obama declared income “inequality” to be “the defining challenge of our time.”

For some unknown reason, this is being treated by the news media as some sort of revelation.  It is nothing of the sort. As his critics have been insisting for years, Obama is as doctrinaire a leftist ideologue as can be found in contemporary political life.  And the left is and has always been distinguished by nothing if not its revulsion toward material inequalities.

Think about this: of all of the problems in our world, the President of the United States and his ideological ilk view the fact that some people earn more than others as the problem, the one next to which all others pale in comparison, “the defining challenge of our time.”

No disciple of liberty can so much as begin to relate to the thought that income inequality is a “problem,” let alone the greatest of problems.

Obviously, then, neither Obama nor anyone else endorsing his position can value liberty.  In fact, they are enemies of liberty.

This is no ad hominem attack.  Though “liberty” is a term with a storied history, a term that has been championed by partisans of various stripes, the inhabitants of the English-speaking world and Americans in particular have always known that there is no liberty where there exist large concentrations of power.

In other words, the government of a “free society” makes sure that power is distributed far and wide.

The United States Constitution is a paradigmatic illustration of such a government. The Constitution delineates a government that, in a very real sense, is divided against itself, a government comprised of numerous “checks and balances.”  This accounts for why the Constitution supplies us with a system of private property.  No society is without a system of property ownership, but the only one consistent with a decentralization of authority and power—i.e. with liberty—is one in which as many parties as possible own, or can own, property.

No one is more aware of—and more frustrated by—the indissoluble relationship between the liberty of our Constitution and private property than Obama.

Back in 2001, while giving an interview with public radio, Obama bluntly stated: “We still suffer from not having a Constitution that guarantees its citizens economic rights” (emphasis added).

There are a couple of things of which to take note here.  First, far from being the blessing bequeathed to them by its Framers that most Americans have always took it to be, the Constitution, according to Obama, is actually a burden, a curse even, from which Americans “suffer.”  Second, it is a hardship because it fails to secure what Obama calls “economic rights.”

These remarks are telling enough on the surface.  The reasoning uniting them is that much more shocking to anyone willing to follow its logic.

Since everyone knows that the Constitution guarantees a system of private property ownership—once more, the only system compatible with liberty—Obama clearly has something very different in mind from private property rights when he speaks of “economic rights.”  The latter he values.  The former, though, by his lights, constitutes a burden from which “we” “suffer.”

A system of private property is a cause of suffering, according to Obama.  This means that the United States Constitution in which that system consists is a cause of suffering.  And this in turn implies that the liberty for which generations of Americans from the founding onward have sacrificed is a cause of suffering.

In this same interview, Obama insists that the Constitution imposes “essential constraints” from which we must liberate ourselves, for these obstacles from which “we have not broken free” account for the Constitution’s silence on “what the Federal government or State government[s] must do on your behalf.”

Obama, it should now be clear, views, and can only view, the Constitution as nothing less than a mistake of epic proportions.  Beyond this, it is a moral calamity, for the liberty, the private property rights, internal to it have imposed incalculable suffering—income and wealth inequalities, “the defining challenge of our time”—upon generation after generation of Americans since the 18th century.

Everyone should be concerned with helping the poor, whether the needy in question are impoverished materially or otherwise. Yet “income inequalities” can be addressed only by a national government, a government in which authority and power are centralized.  In short, greater income equality means, and can only mean, greater inequality of power.

And this in turn must mean that greater income equality can be had only at the cost of forfeiting individual liberty.

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  • objectivefactsmatter

    It’s the defining opportunity for politicians that lack any integrity at all.

  • Lanna

    See the Movie 2016 by Dinesh DeSousa.

  • Jason

    Disgusting hypocrisy from Obama. The greatest poverty always comes from socialism. Capitalism always spreads wealth and creates wealth better than any artificial government program could. Socialism creates poverty for everyone concerned, apart from the elite class, who are as wealth as any 19th century capitalist. Margaret Thatcher put it perfectly, “They’d rather the poor poorer if the gap was smaller”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdR7WW3XR9c

    There is no such thing as a perfect society, and any attempt to create one always results in death. Leftwingers dont seem to realise that throughout history, more government power always equals suffering. Worse, they do realise it, and they just crave power. Freedom is the greatest way to spread wealth, not regulation.

    • tagalog

      Quite right. I always have a chuckle when the lefties talk about the horrors of capitalism and how it insures and perpetuates poverty when in fact it is collectivist economic systems that insure perpetual poverty (for everyone) and not capitalism that does that.

  • sprinklerman

    The most disturbing part of the One’s understanding of the Constitution is that he believes that the Constitution should be providing rights to individuals. This understanding by Obama and his minions is completely wrong, but is completely compatible with a progressives understanding as they exist in our society as Socialists or Communists.

    Our Founders believed that our rights were bestowed upon us by God, not by the government or a document that can be changed. That governments were instituted by men to allow for the societies good, and that the government was to serve the people not the other way around. If you don’t believe in God then it is completely understandable that it is the Government or political document that provides the rights and liberties.

    When government was the one to bestow rights upon individuals like it did when Britain had a monarch, then the government could take away those rights.

    “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” James Madison

  • tagalog

    Actually, the Fifth Amendment involves economic rights, in that it states that the right of a person not to be deprived of liberty or property without due process of law insures at least two of the components of a free market system, namely, 1. the right of people to enter and leave any given market freely, and 2. that no person is to control any significant part of the market he deals in.

    Article I, Section 10 also says: “No State shall…pass any…Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts…” thus securing to the people the right of contract.

    However, the right to property has been under attack consistently ever since there has been a movement to characterize property as theft. The right of contract has been under attack at least since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if not longer than that.

    • Flowerknife_us

      Property Taxes make “ownership” problematic. It more resembles a sole right to use of a rental with rights of transfer. Taxes by itself depreciates the investment. The “Taxes” are as good as a rental fee. What Government do you know that hasn’t raised the Rent every Year by several %?

      There are reports of one Mayor jacking the Rent by 82%.
      Now there is the sound of Music to many a home owner.

      • tagalog

        These issues can be resolved by new laws if the people want to pursue them. That’s due process.

    • sprinklerman

      The Right to peaceful assembly in the 1st amendment has been ruled by the USSC to include the right to freedom of association. This includes the right to form corporations and other groups to partnerships and other businesses who’s purpose is to make a profit.

      • tagalog

        Corporations are persons, entitled to the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment, Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward – 17 U.S. 518 (1819). Corporations have the same rights as natural persons to contract and to enforce contracts. In Re Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad – 118 U.S. 394 (1886).

        But corporate business isn’t all of the business in the United States.

        • sprinklerman

          Agreed.

  • Ellman48

    This gets down to the basic question about where or from whom we get our ‘rights’. The Founders claimed that our rights come from God, the Creator of Life. The Left claims that our rights come from government, i.e., the people who ‘govern’ us. These people assume that they are the elite, the gods if you will, who are endowed by something (perhaps Marxism?) to determine what a ‘right’ is. Anyone who allows fallible, imperfect human beings to dictate to them what rights they have or are entitled to is stupid and gullible. If my reward for being successful is to have my property confiscated and redistributed to others then why would I even attempt to achieve success and prosperity? My God, we need only examine the experiences of the Soviet Union and Communist China to realize how absurd the notion is that the government bestows rights on individuals! The Left is insane! There’s no other explanation!

  • nimbii

    Inequality in earnings is always the standard of the left because it can never be fixed and always provides the blank check for “emergency” or “crisis” measures. However, let’s look at per-capita earnings of the 3 counties around DC. This is where the poverty experts live in splendor while the poor live inside the city in poverty. That’s the real class warfare, the political class vs. the rest of us.