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  • A Sandwich Story

    Posted by David Foster on November 2nd, 2008 (All posts by )

    Responding to criticism of his redistributive ideas, Obama waved it away…said he was being accused of being a Communist because he shared his peanut butter sandwich in the second grade.

    I don’t think anyone objects to the kindly and generous second-grade Obama who shared his sandwich. What people are objecting to is another second grader–let’s call him “Billy O’Grabba.”

    Billy persuades the teacher to collect all the lunches and hand them over to himself and a group of his friends. These kids then decide how much of each sandwich should be returned to the kid who brought it, and then distribute the (very substantial) unreturned part to those playmates whom they find deserving. In return for their services, of course, the in-group takes a pretty substantial peanut butter commission. More important, they gain the prestige that goes with being the distributors of good things.

    The kids in the class, increasingly, will think of the source of their peanut-butter sandwiches not as their mothers who actually made them, but as the distribution group. Many, perhaps most, will suck up to the Lords of Distribution in hopes of getting a bigger piece.

    I doubt that the real second-grade Barack O’Bama would have acted like a Billy O’Grabba, even if he could have persuaded the teacher to go along. But the O’Grabba approach is a pretty good metaphor for what Obama-Pelosi-Reid want to do to the entire country.

    “Progressives,” and even many old-line liberals, tend to think of government as an idealized parent-figure. They forget that government is made up of people who are themselves economic actors–whether politicians or officials–and are pursuing their own personal desires for money, security, status, and ego-stroking.

    Barack talks about spreading the wealth around: you can be certain that a substantial portion of the wealth thus spread would stick to the spreaders. Under an Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate, those with the best chance of becoming wealthy/wealthier would be those skilled at manipulating the government process–lobbyists, elected officials, certain kinds of lawyers, activists of various kinds, executives in Beltway companies good at extracting government money, executives in many kinds of “nonprofits,” etc etc.

    I don’t think it is particularly useful to refer to Obamanomics as “socialist” or “communist”–he is not proposing that the school take over the manufacturing of peanut-butter sandwiches (although you can expect more and more precise specifications as the exactly the kind of sandwiches that the mothers are required to make.) And communists/socialists have historically been very concerned with economic growth, even though they had very bad ideas about how it could be accomplished–they wanted to increase the supply of peanut butter sandwiches so there would be more to hand out. Obama-Pelosi-Reid are not interested in production; they have no idea how peanut butter sandwiches are made and how more of them could be produced, and have no interest in learning. Their interest is in being the Lords of Distribution.


    8 Responses to “A Sandwich Story”

    1. Phil Fraering Says:

      It seems that over the weekend this audio surfaced:

    2. pst314 Says:

      “he is not proposing that the school take over the manufacturing of peanut-butter sandwiches”

      Which is a prime example of why I see Obama & friends as more fascist than socialist.

    3. Phil Fraering Says:

      OOPS the imbedded video link didn’t work:

      “So if someone wants to build a coal power plant they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that is being emitted.”

    4. Phil Fraering Says:

      I don’t mean to change the subject like that, but that particular stream seemed very very important.

      (So he’s not going to steal people’s peanut butter and jelly sandwitches. You’ll just be bankrupted if you make one to begin with.)

    5. David Foster Says:

      Phil…see my post a couple up from this one: “The Democrats’ War on Energy.”

    6. Mike Drew Says:

      The master distributor of the peanut butter in the liberal illuminati socialist party. Great lessons for the kids, I wish they would actually try this in class so the kids get a lesson on socialism before they are immersed in it.

    7. Which Weevil Says:

      Obama’s portrayal of himself as a generous sharer of his own sandwiches (even in idle jest) is made especially distasteful by the meager amount of income that the Obamas donated to charity, especially in their pre-Senate years.

      Barack talks about spreading the wealth around: you can be certain that a substantial portion of the wealth thus spread would stick to the spreaders.

      Great; now I’ve got to get the image of Obama squirming around like Iggy Pop out of my head ;)

    8. Marty Says:

      Agree, calling Obama “socialist” or “communist” is not really the point and probably wrong, as most economists would define those terms.

      He’s more like a hard Labourite in the 1940s-1970s, or even more, a German Green Party leader. Wealth is not created, it just exists to be moved around, and we can do anything we want (environmental, taxation, other regulations, etc.) without fear that it will affect the size of the nation’s wealth.

      One could argue this is a bit Marxist, based on an implicit belief that capitalism has solved the problem of production and it is time to move on to socialism, the next stage, but I doubt Obama thinks about economic things that systematically, so to call him Marxist or socialist seems a bridge too far.