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Class Warfare Follies


The class war invective that poured from the lips of liberals and Democrats recently during the debate over extending Bush-era tax cuts was memorable.  It has become, perhaps, the centerpiece of modern liberal governing philosophy.  The narrative seems to run something like this: "The filthy rich have screwed us and now it's our turn to screw them."  Indeed, it was difficult to find a Democrat anywhere who demurred even slightly from this perception of the "wealthy" as evil incarnate that so animates the liberal imagination today.

Senator Bernie Sanders described the wealthy as the "...most powerful forces in the world, whose greed has no end."

Then House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, railed against the "$700 billion dollars in tax cuts for the top 2 percent in our country."

Senator Claire McCaskill stated that if we "give more money to millionaires, it really is time for America to take up pitchforks."

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter described the extension of the Bush tax cuts as an "atrocity" for which we should be "ashamed."

What is perhaps most insidious about such rhetoric is the premise behind it: the belief by liberals that your money is not yours but the government's.  How else to conclude that a tax cut is giving money to millionaires?  How does keeping more of one's earnings amount to giving one anything much less increasing someone else's debt?  Such reasoning holds only for those who worship before the altar of economic redistribution.  For the rest of us, it is predatory taxation.

For successful Americans, there is probably nothing more galling than to listen to liberal politicians disparage them as odious reprobates, getting away with something.  Those professionals, innovators, and small businessmen who make more than $200,000 annually may wonder what it is exactly that they did wrong and whether hard work, initiative, and risk taking are welcome any longer in this nation.

Americans also do not despise the rich.  They are not obsessed with income disparities nor do they despair over the success of others.

In 2004, Thomas Frank, liberal author of "What's The Matter With Kansas," bemoaned the tendency of many middle class voters to vote Republican, failing, as he saw it, to appreciate the left's redistributive policies.

But many Americans hope someday to become successful themselves.  And, if not them, then, perhaps, their children.  There is a "dream" component to American life that liberals do not properly appreciate.  America has always been perceived as a land of opportunity, and a check from the government, for the first class among us, will not do.

Americans also understand that deficits will not go away no matter how high liberals raise taxes on the rich; that ultimately Washington will go after them, the middle class, to cover expenses.

Mature minds realize that the growing disparity between rich and poor has many causes, some of which include illegitimacy, divorce, education, immigration, global competition, technology, and, of course, misguided government policies, none of which point necessarily to some conspiracy by the rich or powerful or a failure of capitalism.

There is also a difference between relative poverty and absolute poverty.  If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet decided to move their wealth to Switzerland, income disparities would shrink but no one's life would be improved.   Income inequity does not necessarily equal destitution or poverty.

Americans also recognize that punishing or demonizing the rich will not better their lives in the least. When the rich do well, they tend to spend their money, start businesses, hire, invest, or save it for others to borrow and create jobs with.  Taking money from them does nothing to help working Americans and may in fact hurt them.

Furthermore, the average American may not be consumed with envy for the "millionaires and billionaires," but irked by his neighbor who, as a public sector employee, for example, enjoys guaranteed employment, mandatory raises, platinum plated health insurance, early retirement and fabulous pension, that he and others in the private sector are forced to pay for.

It is also inaccurate to suggest the wealthy do not pay their fair share. The top 1% pays approximately 40% of the tax bill, while earning about 20% of the nation's adjusted gross income.  The top 5% pay more taxes than the bottom 95%.  The bottom 50% earns 13% and pay 3% of the bill, a top heavy and unstable arrangement.

Americans understand that private property is key to proper functioning of our unique society that is based on individual liberty and opportunity; private property encourages thrift, proper husbandry of resources, and provides incentives to work, innovate, and create wealth, which benefits everyone: If the private property of the so called "wealthy" is contingent and temporary, subject to expropriation by relentless politicians, than the assets of the middle class are also at risk.

Class warfare and confiscatory taxation of the rich are political and economic dead ends.  Unfortunately for liberals, most Americans do not share their hatred of the rich.  Nor do they see them as villains and outlaws.  Indeed, many hope to join their ranks someday; that is the American way.




  • Ron Himsel

    January 22, 2011

    Doc, Keep up the good work and keep us posted. Let us see how our newly elected tea party officials govern. Let us hope that they did not forget the message from the AMERICAN voters.We can not last for another term of Obama. He MUST be defeated!!!

  • Elisha Sterling

    January 22, 2011

    Doc, I really enjoyed reading this and all your articles. They are so well written and on point. I always learn so much. Thanks!

  • anon

    January 23, 2011


    you are a genius!

  • Phillipe

    January 24, 2011

    I think everyone is disappointed by the failures of the current administration!

    I think everyone wants to see new ideas!

    And, I think everyone agrees it's time that this country was run by someone who is five!

  • Oscar Hoffman

    February 2, 2011

    Very well written Dr, Moss. To the point, and accurate as always. Thanks.

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