Saturday, December 10, 2011

It’s Easier to Fan Envy than Formulate Policies That Work

Obama takes the destructive path

The article on wealth by age and similar articles cited in “The 99%ers: Part 7” illustrate why limousine liberals can’t get me to buy into their class warfare rhetoric. They all illustrate the problem. Once taking things in order to give them to the “little guy” is set loose, there’s no telling who will become the “big guy.” Yeh, the older generation is wealthier than youth. So what?

Another article entitled “Public School Teachers Aren't Underpaid” also illustrates the problem. Andrew G. Biggs and Jason Richwine conclude: “Our research suggests that on average—counting salaries, benefits and job security—teachers receive about 52% more than they could in private business.”

While most people, maybe 99%, may be in one of the target groups of the so called 99%ers, Teachers are in the crosshairs in this article. It isn’t surprising that people with pensions look like a privileged class to the majority of Americans who don’t have pensions. Many public employees have seen the same thing regarding public sector employer-paid health insurance. It’s so disappointing to see such jealousy. Yeh, teachers benefited from being in the teacher’s union. So what?

None of the articles are surprising, but it’s disappointing when a political party makes it the central theme of their election efforts. What doesn’t seem to change is politicians’ belief that people are stupid. How else can one explain Obama’s quote: “This is not class warfare. It is math.” He’s talking about a tax of undefined size, applying it to the wealthy that is defined differently depending on the audience, and a tax that is so vague there isn’t a revenue estimate attached. That may not be class warfare, but it sure isn’t math.

Maybe he says that because he doesn’t have anyone around to do the math for him, but it’s more likely he doesn’t do the math because his math doesn’t work. Even more important than the fact that his math doesn’t work is his firm belief that the public is so stupid it can’t figure out that multiple trillions of dollars aren’t going to come from taxing millionaires (even if he fudges the definition of millionaire to include people with a $250k or $200k income). There just aren’t enough millionaires by any of his definitions.

That said, whether one favors smaller differences in incomes or rejoices in the diversity of incomes is a normative decision (i.e., a value judgment) that we are all entitled to make. What is disappointing is that one political party has so little faith in American’s sense of fair play and equity, their intelligence, and their generosity. Rather than appealing to what is noble in human nature, they believe their success requires appealing to baser motives, distortions and lying, demagoguery, and cultivating dependence.

It will be tragic if it works for Obama, because he’ll reap the whirlwind. The math won’t go away. There is darn good reason “thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ …” is one of the Ten Commandments. I just can’t understand why more people can’t rejoice in other peoples’ good fortune.

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