October 27, 2008

Obama's 2001 "redistribution of wealth" radio interview

Here are the key passages from Obama's 2001 radio interview. It's the usual with Obama -- you have to read it very closely to see where he's coming from (i.e., deep left field). I've tried to clean up the spelling and punctuation from FoxNews' awful attempt at a transcript:

“I mean if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy and the court I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples so that I would not have the right to vote would now be able to sit at lunch counter and as long as I could pay for it would be ok. But the supreme court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of basic issues of political and economic justice in this society and to that extent as radical as people try to characterize the warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the constitution, at least as it has been interpreted and the warren court interpreted it generally in the same way that the constitution is a document of negative liberties-- says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal gov’t can’t do to you but it doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted; and I think one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change and in some ways we still suffer from that.” …

So, Obama is saying that it was a tragedy that the civil rights movement focused too much on winning individual rights and equal opportunity for blacks through the courts and not enough on building “coalitions of power” to achieve “redistributive change.”

This interview shows Obama the law professor and politician saying that to bring redistribution of wealth to blacks, it’s less effective to be, say, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court than it is to be, say, President of the United States.

Obama’s statement seems perfectly plausible: he’s spent years studying and teaching Constitutional law and he has concluded that his goal, redistribution of wealth to his race, is more likely to be achieved through politics than through the judiciary.

The subtle point is that Obama sees redistribution as a continuation of the civil rights movement — i.e., it’s for blacks.

"You know, maybe I am showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but you know I am not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way. Just look at very rare examples where during the desegregation era the court was willing to, for example, order, you know, changes that cost money to local school district and the court was very uncomfortable with it."

This is presumably a reference to Kansas City, where a judge ordered a billion dollars extra spending on heavily black schools. Not surprisingly, it didn’t do much for test scores.

"It was hard to manage. It was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues. You know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that is essentially is administrative and take a lot of time, the court is not very good at it and politically it is hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So I think that -- although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, you know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts -- I think that as a practical matter that our institutions are just poorly equipped to do it. …"

So, Obama is saying that he is for “bringing about economic change through the courts” in theory, in practice the courts don’t have the administrative staff and power to do it. Instead, Obama’s goal of “redistribution of wealth” should be achieved through the legislative and executive branches.
"Typically, the court can be more or less generous in interpreting actions and initiatives taken, but in terms of funding of abortions and Medicare and Medicaid, the court it not initiating those funding streams. Essentially, what the court is saying is at some point this is a legitimate prohibition or this is not, and I think those are very important battles that need to be fought and I think they have a redistributive aspect to them."

I’m not exactly sure what this means.

In summary, a close reading of “Dreams from My Father” shows that achieving political power to bring about redistribution of wealth from whites to blacks was the main goal of Obama’s life up at least through the book’s writing in 1995.

This interview extends that up through 2001, the year after his soul-crushing defeat in the 2000 Democrat primary for House, where he was rejected by black voters for not being black enough.

Keep in mind that Obama has never been all that big on just cutting checks for poor people. He much prefers to spend money through his political base, social service workers, letting them keep much of the increased spending.

This explains, by the way, why Obama never bothered to publish any legal scholarship, even though he had the same post at the U. of Chicago Law School, “Senior Lecturer,” as Richard Posner. He didn’t see the point: litigation just wasn’t going to be as effective at getting “redistributive change” as would be “coalitions of power.”

As a practical matter, however, he understands that to take money from whites and give it to blacks, which is what he cares about, his dreams from his father, he’ll need to assemble broad “coalitions of power.” He can’t just hand out money on a blacks-only basis. He’s got to cut all sorts of people in on the deal.

The problem with that is that his goal then becomes vastly more expensive. The U.S. can more or less afford to subsidize the descendants of slaves as a form of reparations. What we can’t afford to do is cut everybody else in on the deal in order to make it politically palatable.

We’ve seen that with the broad bipartisan consensus for more minority homeownership that caused the mortgage meltdown. Bush’s denunciations of down payments as the chief barrier to adding 5.5 million new minority homeowners would have been less disastrous if only he’d said: “No down payments for blacks. Everybody else still has to put money down.” But, you can’t be that obvious about it. So, huge amounts of money flowed to non-blacks (especially to Hispanics), and here we are. Bush helped increase the amount of mortgage money for home purchase going to Hispanics 693% from 1999 to 2006, with disastrous consequences for the economy. Mortgage money to blacks went up 397%, 218% for more prudent Asians, and about 100% for whites.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

39 comments:

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: As a practical matter, however, he understands that to take money from whites and give it to blacks, which is what he cares about, his dreams FROM his father, he’ll need to assemble broad "coalitions of power."

Thank you.

rightsaidfred said...

Really good post, Steve

>>>>I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change and in some ways we still suffer from that.” …

Same thing happened to Stalinism: they lost track. Must do better with his chance.

daveg said...

It is so sad that the neocons and people like testing99 have made the Republican party so odious that Obama has become the least damaging choice for president.

While obama is for some americans at the expense of other americans, the neocons don't even pretend to represent americans at all.

Anonymous said...

It all goes back to what Steve's been telling us all along: Obama is a blank slate. If you like him or hate Bush enough, you can fill in the blanks with things you like. Otherwise there's no particular reason to think he's going to be a great or even ok president and plenty of reasons to be worried about the guy.

My hope is we get a Clintonesqe gays in the military moment right away and he has to govern on the defensive from the start. Good luck on that though.

voodooman said...

So does that mean he will forcibly distribute wealth from White and Asian graduate students, already crushed with student-loan debt, to Black NBA superstars?

Cossack in a Kilt said...

Umm, based on my independent reading, my study in high school, college and law school, the Constitution of the United States is pretty much all about negative rights.

THAT WAS THE WHOLE IDEA.

Or perhaps I should say, "That was the whole, radical idea."

A government that couldn't control your whole life, from cradle to grave.

A government kept in its corner, chained down by the (jealous) states and the (jealous) small freeholder.

Hey, it was a really neat idea.

"A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

call me ishmael said...

Obama's making the same point made by Kathy Boudin in this quote -- "...the Old Left argued their cases on technical, not political grounds, and they were always in the courtroom appealing, never in the street demonstrating" -- that can be found in Big Dance: The Untold Story of Weather-Man Kathy Boudin and the Terrorist Family That Committed the Brinks Robbery Murders.

ben g said...

what is redistribution of wealth? transferring wealth from some people to other people. in obama's case, this is about transferring wealth from people who make more than 250K to those who make less than 250K. yes, this helps the poor. yes, it helps blacks, because black are more often poor than whites.

steve supports a national healthcare system. this is a form of redistribution of wealth from the (disproportionately white) rich to the (disproportionately black) poor. is he too in "far left field"?

obama's proposed welfare policies are color blind, typical center-left policies aimed at reducing inequality. how is this "far left field"? someone care to explain?

David davenport said...

Steve, suggestions for two topics to cover before the election:

(1) Are much of O. Hussein bin Biden's dodgey political contributions coming from the Middle East?

(2) Traditional media's support for Nobama -- is their motive to restore the so-called Fairness Doctrine and also enact hate crimes laws to muzzle anti-Leftist talk radio and Internet web sites, including yours?

Born Again Democrat said...

So where did your concern for the bottom 75% of society go, Steve?

There is nothing long with a moderate amount of economic redistribution if we can do it efficiently, and without destroying the incentives to work and enterprise, saving and investment. And with no racial discrimination.

Wouldn't you agree? Of course, that is a big "if" -- but assuming it could be done in a democratic way, what is your position and why?

Please leave out the racial issue.

beowulf said...

Ben G is right. Obama's point is race-based court decisions are a dead end. It would have been better for the Court to rule that the Constitution requires color-blind economic equality policies (e.g. universal health care).

His friend and fellow U of C law professor Cass Sunstein made the same point in his book about FDR's last State Of the Union address, "The Second Bill of Rights". http://www.buzzflash.com/hartmann/06/04/har06004.html

Bill said...

"Typically, the court can be more or less generous in interpreting actions and initiatives taken, but in terms of funding of abortions and Medicare and Medicaid, the court it not initiating those funding streams. Essentially, what the court is saying is at some point this is a legitimate prohibition or this is not, and I think those are very important battles that need to be fought and I think they have a redistributive aspect to them."

I’m not exactly sure what this means.


It means what you were writing about. He is saying that the court is only able to say whether or not it is legally OK to do something, but the court is limited in its ability to take your money and give it to someone else. Ultimately, that is up to the executive power (i.e. cops, FBI, ATF, Secret Service, etc.).

The problem with that is that his goal then becomes vastly more expensive. The U.S. can more or less afford to subsidize the descendants of slaves as a form of reparations. What we can’t afford to do is cut everybody else in on the deal in order to make it politically palatable.

Well, maybe if America were one big Chicago...

But Obama doesn't get that. He isn't really that brilliant, but he sure is ambitious. I'm not really looking forward to how this will all play out.

Christopher said...

This is the problem: that the office of the President is now so powerful that it is actually important to examine things a candidate said 7 years ago, in a radio interview... as a novice low-level politician.... That the two major and only two major parties are so alike and in agreement on this point and so many others, that such exegesis is almost necessary.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the Democratic Party is the party of the rich. Go to opensecrets.org and see how wealthy people are lining up to donate to the Obama.

Or, cross-reference city-data.org zip codes with opensecrets.org database. You will see all of the wealthy areas that are donating to Obama.

It simply ludicrous to believe that Obama will tax those making over 250k per year...those are the people funding his campaign.

What Obama guarantees is taking money from the working-to-middle class and giving it to blacks.

His goal is not to impose communism. He just wants to liquidate the kulaks.

Anonymous said...

"obama's proposed welfare policies are color blind, typical center-left policies aimed at reducing inequality. how is this "far left field"? someone care to explain?"

I remember once there was an implosion of our economy that led to a worldwide malaise caused by a center-Left, color-blind program, which had the wonderful affect of helping minorities, at least in the short run. It had something to do homeownership and funny enough, it affected everyone: working poor, working class, middle, upper, and rich...

Anonymous said...

Ben G,

The "far left field" description is not of his campaign's stated platform, but of his actual philosophy and possible intent.

After all, Bush was Captain No-Nation-Building during his campaign. That turned out not to reflect the real Bush so well.

testing99 said...

Actually DaveG, Obama is for trans-national elites (who are the ones funding him) and there won't be much if any money at all going to Blacks.

Moreover, what has done in the Republican Party is:

1. Trans-national elites who loathe Americanism and populism and have pushed trans-national agendas, specifically bowing to the commands of the Gulf oil and Iranian money-centers.

2. Rise of single women, as the swing vote, and the decline of marriage. Making a good portion of the White population allied to hard-left policies and explicitly allied against working/middle class White males.

3. The media providing overt Worship of Obama as the avatar of trans-national multiculturalism.

The GWB coalition has not fallen apart, nor have people embraced: defeatism, begging terrorists to be nice to us, unilateral disarmament, an extended world apology tour for America's existence.

There are simply fewer of the coalition as there are more single women. And Obama mouths centrist platitudes with the Media covering for him.

Fact: Pakistan has 100+ nukes, it is according to the leaked NIE falling apart and AQ/Taliban control is probable. Along with Iran, that means America will in the words of Sowell, live in fear, for a very long time, until a fairly nasty war kills millions.

That's the continuation of kick-the-can down the road with Clinton-Bush on North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan (went nuclear in 98, after the CIA predicted two years prior it would take twenty years).

Just like the mortgage crisis -- Bush was afraid people would cry "racist" and so backed off, just as people fear doing something now, with casualties, and hope that cities will never die. Because it will always be 1978.

It's quite likely a populist backlash against Obama's "model" according to the WindsofChange.net post by David Blue, is in the offing. Trans-national elites can always funnel more money than local populists, and rely on the media to fly air-cover so to speak. But grass-roots organizing, with explicit wedge identity politics, particularly in a downturn that lasts years, is a proven way to succeed: Italy's Lega Nord - Berlusconi alliance and Austria's rightists.

FDR after all excluded Blacks from labor unions along with the AFL, and required citizenship for New Deal programs along with massive deportation sweeps.

Steve is entirely correct -- there is not enough money to make a "deal" go down for "redistribution" or reparations, particularly in a global recession, and that is the weakness of the trans-national elites globally.

Obama is quite likely to over-reach, and propose reparations in light of a sweeping victory, providing a new Republican populist Congress, one more Palin than McCain or Bush. And yes it WILL be pro-Israel, pro-America, pro-killing terrorists and pre-emptive in hitting enemies wherever and whenever.

Truth said...

"yes, it helps blacks, because black are more often poor than whites."

There are a whole lot more white people making <250k than black. Again, the hand-ringing here is reactionary and laughably silly.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change and in some ways we still suffer from that.

What's he promising here? Africa, here. With the singular difference that the US, unlike Africa, hasn't run out of Europeans and Asians to suck dry.

obama's proposed welfare policies are color blind, typical center-left policies aimed at reducing inequality. how is this "far left field"? someone care to explain?

Because they are intended explicitly for the purpose of redistributing wealth to blacks, even if by necessity some also happens to get redistributed to poor whites and Hispanics. I don't think this is even in doubt - a look at his church of choice, as well as his other pet philanthropy, the United Negro College Fund, shows where his heart is.

What a bummer that Obama seems to have missed that the "old" welfare system was exactly that - a system almost perfectly designed for blacks. Sure, we'll give you a welfare check - if you don't have a husband around. Sure, we'll let you live in public housing filled with lots of blacks. Because how many whites would want to live in such?

And if those programs - lifetime welfare checks, food stamps, medicaid, and public housing - weren't enough for Obama, what is?

I'm not sure I want to know. I'm also quite certain we're about to find out.

My hope is we get a Clintonesqe gays in the military moment right away and he has to govern on the defensive from the start. Good luck on that though.

Oh, we will get that moment. What's the use of having such immense power, including overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, if you're not inclined to use it?

My guess though is that 1) it will come after they pass socialized medicine, which will be the first thing on their agenda; and 2) this time while the right wing talks shows (if they haven't been banned) are up in arms, the MSM will do as it has done during the election: "President Obama declared today that the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Amendments no longer exist. Right wing extremists through a fit. Ho hum. Now for the latest news from American Idol..."

Jim Bowery said...

FDR passed every plank in Norm Thomas's socialist platform except a tax on net assets -- which Norm Thomas called a "Wealth Tax" as did the soon-to-be assassinated presidential candidate Huey Long. FDR did, however, pass a tax on income which he called a "Wealth Tax". Nowadays we have Warren Buffett and Barack Obama pulling another FDR-type fraud.

The reason we will never have a true wealth tax is that it is too close to genuine "economic justice" wherein a use fee on property rights replaces taxes on economic activity as the source of government revenue. It starts clarifying and genuinely simplifying the relationship between the public and private sectors.

Moreover, a genuinely fair system of government funding dispersal is blind to the recipient's status except insofar as the recipient is an adult citizen. This "citizen's dividend" avoids the moral hazard and public sector rent seeking that results in political pathology. But, again, the very fairness of such a "citizen's dividend" is the reason it will never be passed.

c23 said...

Why is everybody taking Obama at his word here re: a tax increase for people making over $250,000 and a tax cut for everybody else? It's not like he would be the first politician to lie about taxes.

It looks like it will only be possible to keep his promise if he's as fiscally irresponsible as Bush. At some point - maybe during Obama's administration, maybe not, but someday - foreigners will stop subsidizing our debt.

What then? Will Obama or his successor take away the health care entitlement and tax credits for the lower 75%? Will he soak his rich friends? Will he go after the middle class?

voodooman said...

testing99:
Obama is quite likely to over-reach, and propose reparations in light of a sweeping victory, providing a new Republican populist Congress, one more Palin than McCain or Bush. And yes it WILL be pro-Israel, pro-America, pro-killing terrorists and pre-emptive in hitting enemies wherever and whenever.

Hitting enemies. Let's hope this means the real enemies of America, and not the populist Right's usual paranoid fantasy villains (ie. Harry Potter) and usual scapegoats (ie. porn, drugs, abortion).

Blode said...

"steve supports a national healthcare system. this is a form of redistribution of wealth from the (disproportionately white) rich to the (disproportionately black) poor. is he too in "far left field"?

obama's proposed welfare policies are color blind, typical center-left policies aimed at reducing inequality. how is this "far left field"? someone care to explain?"

Policies "aimed at reducing inequality" are generally means-tested entitlements which tax the upper and middle classes and give to the poor. A national health care system, though it is totally unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment, would tax the upper and middle classes and give to everyone. (A state health care system is never mentioned, probably for a policy to be allowable under the constitution isn't really considered much of of a bonus any more.) Welfare is leftist policy; social insurance is centrist policy.

Glaivester said...

Just like the mortgage crisis -- Bush was afraid people would cry "racist" and so backed off, just as people fear doing something now, with casualties, and hope that cities will never die. Because it will always be 1978.

You give Bush too much credit. He really believed in his schtick and would probably be one of the ones crying "racist."

ben g said...

they are intended explicitly for the purpose of redistributing wealth to blacks, even if by necessity some also happens to get redistributed to poor whites and Hispanics. I don't think this is even in doubt - a look at his church of choice, as well as his other pet philanthropy, the United Negro College Fund, shows where his heart is.

Ut, oh! The United Negro College Fund! Wow, his heart must reeeeeaaly be in the wrong place if he's donating to a mainstream charity aimed at helping poor blacks get into college!

On a more serious note, his interest in that church was due to his identity issues, not to his deep belief in radical Afrocentric liberation theology.

The "far left field" description is not of his campaign's stated platform, but of his actual philosophy and possible intent.

I'm still awaiting any serious evidence that his philosophy is far-left. Perhaps an explanation of how the Obama quotes provided by Steve are supposedly far-left?

ben g said...

Welfare is leftist policy

Definitely not far-left though. John McCain has supported several welfare programs.

Anonymous said...

ben g, the idea that the already highly disproportionate income tax rates on wealthy and moderately wealthy people should be increased so that that money can be given to poor people simply because it would be "fair" reeks of socialism.

Jewish Atheist said...

It's the usual with Obama -- you have to read it very closely to see where he's coming from (i.e., deep left field).

I think by "you have to read it very closely" you mean "you have to squint and make a bunch of uncharitable assumptions."

Asher said...

Limited, constitutionallist government is a dead dog, so I suggest you get over it and deal with reality.

You have two options:

A) Rightwing socialism
B) Leftwin socialism

I know which one I'm going with. There ain't no other path at this point in history.

Mr. Anon said...

"Born Again Democrat said...

but assuming it could be done in a democratic way, what is your position and why? Please leave out the racial issue."

Allow me to paraphrase your request:

Discuss the orbits of the planets. Please leave out the gravity issue.

Anonymous said...

"On a more serious note, his interest in that church was due to his identity issues, not to his deep belief in radical Afrocentric liberation theology."

Since it seems that some of our commentators can read Obama's mind, we should have no trouble figuring out what he'll do if he becomes President.

Blode said...

"Welfare is leftist policy

Definitely not far-left though. John McCain has supported several welfare programs." - ben g

You're right. McCain is a mainstream leftist rather than an extreme leftist. We can call him a social democratic hawk.

David Davenport said...

DooDooMan, you are an enemy of Christian patriotic America.

Hitting enemies. Let's hope this means the real enemies of America, and not the populist Right's usual paranoid fantasy villains (ie. Harry Potter) and usual scapegoats (ie. porn, drugs, abortion).

... porn ... drugs ... abortion ...

= Doodooman's agenda

Anonymous said...

McCain is a social democrat. God you guys would have a fucking aneurysm if you had to live in a country with an actual functioning left wing.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Ut, oh! The United Negro College Fund! Wow, his heart must reeeeeaaly be in the wrong place if he's donating to a mainstream charity aimed at helping poor blacks get into college!

And I'm sure if John McCain's preferred charity were the United White Way, neither you nor the "mainstream" press would have any problem with that.

I'm still awaiting any serious evidence that his philosophy is far-left. Perhaps an explanation of how the Obama quotes provided by Steve are supposedly far-left?

Precisely how much proof do we need? His radio interviews. His books. His votes in the IL legislature and the US Senate. His associations with the New Party, William Ayers, BernardineDohrn, and Jeremiah Wright? His genetic connection to his leftist black father, his leftist white mother, and his leftist white grandmother? His ties to ACORN?

What, what, what will be enough to prove that he is a radical extrems leftist?

ben g said...

And I'm sure if John McCain's preferred charity were the United White Way, neither you nor the "mainstream" press would have any problem with that.

Charities for minorities like blacks wouldn't exist if there were economic and social equality. Now, this may be a chimerical goal; but even if it is, there remains an essential difference between charities targeted at advancing minorities who achieve below the mean. The former serves the goal (achievable or not) of equality and the latter serves the goal of racialism.

Precisely how much proof do we need? His radio interviews. His books. His votes in the IL legislature and the US Senate. His associations with the New Party, William Ayers, BernardineDohrn, and Jeremiah Wright? His genetic connection to his leftist black father, his leftist white mother, and his leftist white grandmother? His ties to ACORN?

These connections can be broken down into 3 categories:

1) The irrelevant. E.g Ayers. As your logic would have it, the Republican bankers who worked on Annenberg are tainted by radical liberalism.

2) Guilt by association. E.g. Obama's mother was a leftist. So?

3) Reverend Wright. This connection deserves serious discussion. I've already stated my view on it-- that Obama was a member of that church for identity reasons not because of a deep belief in Afrocentric liberation theology. I think Steve's narrative, and what I've read elsewhere support this. I'd like to hear why not.

Svigor said...

WRONG. The Constitution is a document of positive rights - the government's positive rights. Anything and everything it doesn't say is reserved to the people and/or the states.

Jude Francis said...

I think Obama is a typical center-left liberal politician. His experiences, associations and comments in his early career are mostly a reflection of the working as a community organizer in the poor south-side of Chicago.

Your comments on wealth redistribution are way skewed. A better discussion can be found at these links.
http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_10_26-2008_11_01.shtml#1225104785
http://www.slate.com/id/2203237/

Voodooman said...

david ceausescuport:

DooDooMan, you are an enemy of Christian patriotic America.

Christian patriotic America is a contradiction in terms. America was never a Christian nation, only a nation where people of every faith have the freedom to practice it.

... porn ... drugs ... abortion ... Doodooman's agenda

Freedom ... responsibility ...

I can understand the opposition to abortion - but I must be too stupid and/or autistic to see how people don't have the right to do with their own bodies, minds, souls, and lives as they please. And accept the consequences. If you have so little intelligence and self-control that you need to have a moral dictator telling you what not to read, eat, or drink, that's your right. Mine is to be free. If society is so fragile that it can be destroyed by individual lifestyles, then it deserves destruction.

Imagine! A teenager smoking pot or reading Playboy is somehow a worse menace to society than one who bullies other teenagers, robs convenience stores, vandalizes school or mall property. I guess anything is possible in Ceausescu-port's world.

Brother's keeper ... another word for communism.