For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.
I’m not really going to say that Sarah Palin is a socialist, but a much stronger case can be made for calling Palin a socialist than Obama. The attacks on Obama are primarily based upon minor increases in the marginal tax rate. While tax rates are a valid campaign issue, supporting slightly higher marginal rates on those making over $250,000 per year is hardly socialism.
Rather than being based upon tax rates, socialism is defined by government ownership of the means of production. Palin is only speaking of one segment of Alaska when she refers to Alaskans owning the resources and is not really a socialist, but she sure sounded a lot more like a socialist than the guy she attacks as being a socialist.
This quote is far more incriminating that the old Obama interview from 2001 which many right wing bloggers, followed by the McCain campaign, distorted yesterday. What this really shows is that finding a quote with a few juicy words means nothing. It doesn’t mean Obama is a socialist because he used words like redistribution in an interview any more than it means Sarah Palin is a socialist because she spoke of collectively owning resources.