Thursday, December 9, 2010

It had to happen sometime (playing the Nazi card)

I was watching The O'Reilly Factor last night, and one of the early guests in the program was a cheerful woman who is the representative of a progressive/liberal organization that is disappointed with the tax policy framework that is being pushed by lawmakers and the White House.  She voiced her dismay that the Senate had voted not to raise anyone's taxes, not even those who make more than $1 million per year.  She then asked Bill if he knew how many people in the country made more than $1 million per year--the answer she gave was 375,000 people, which is a little more than one-tenth of one percent of the population.  "So you see," she said, "this will only affect a very few people!"

At that point Bill proceeded to start asking questions about what level of taxation she thought was appropriate--to emphasize the arbitrariness of what is "appopriate" I suppose.  But to my mind he missed a much juicier opportunity, and that was to delve into the philosophical issues that her statement raises.  He could have said, "excuse me, do you realize what you have just advocated?  You have just said that it's okay to treat a small group of citizens differently than the rest of the population, simply because there aren't that many of them."

The grand design of the government of the United States has as one of its over-arching goals the prevention of tyrannies of all kinds.  One such tyranny is the tyranny of the majority, which is EXACTLY what this woman was spelling out in a very cheerful, matter-of-fact sort of way.  Now I hate to throw down the Nazi card, since it tends to be WAY overused, and misused, but if you're okay with different treatment for a group of citizens simply because they are a minority and an easy target, well, then it's nothing but smooth, philosophical sailing all the way to Kristallnacht.

Though pretentious pundits like Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann often denigrate the ability of the American people to comprehend anything more complex than a Denny's menu, I think that millions of people are capable of understanding common-sense philosophical discussion, and I wish that more people, on television and off, would indulge in it.

postscript:  This is what I'm talking about.  These class warfare issues should not be addressed functionally, but rather from a moral and philosophical standpoint.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Night Soldiers

A couple of times in the last week or so, I have heard liberal pundits lamenting the "unprecedented transfer of wealth and opportunity from the middle class to the wealthy", all caused, of course, by 30 years of government by conservative principles (Bill Clinton, with his centrist triangulation after the 1994 midterms, gets lumped in with Reagan and the two Bush's).  The way I see it, it's not the limited government philosophy that's the problem, but the fact that the intrusiveness of government (taxation, regulation) has continued to get worse in spite of the philosophy of great constitutional Presidents like Reagan.  Government intervention has decreased the global competitiveness of American industry, and THAT is the poison that is decimating the middle class.  As for the rich getting richer, well, it's always easier to make money when you have money, and that's probably especially true when the rest of the population is struggling.

The solution is to advance policy (lower taxes, fewer regulations) that turns the United States, state by state, back into the land of opportunity that it once was.  With opportunity will come jobs of all kinds, manufacturing jobs, management jobs, jobs in the service industries and the trades, and the ranks of the middle class will swell in numbers, prosperity, and happiness.

The left blames the right for the woes of the middle class, that is no surprise.  But it is the desire of the left to fix things, well-intentioned I guess, with the resulting intrusions, restrictions, taxes, fines, etc. that has been the real killer.  In the book "Night Soldiers", by the great Alan Furst, the hero of the story is Khristo, a young Bulgarian who is recruited by the Soviet secret service (NKVD) to be a spy.  As Khristo matures he realizes he is not a committed communist, and when the insidiousness of the NKVD becomes all too apparent, he eventually runs.  For the rest of the story Khristo searches relentlessly for that place on Earth where he will finally be left alone to live his life as he sees fit.  Would that the lefty/progressive side of the political spectrum would grant the American public that same privilege.

postscript:  I was listening to a discussion of tax policy on a local radio show this morning.  Every Wednesday (today is Wednesday) the radio station hosts a panel of commentators, one conservative, one liberal, one grumpy.  According to Mr. Grumpy, the income tax became law in 1913, and it was designed solely to take from the rich, as the threshold for tax liability was an income of $25,000 per year--substantially more than even doctors were making at the time.  In response, the truly wealthy--Rockefellers, Morgans, etc.--had a law passed which allowed them to transfer their vast holdings into tax-sheltered foundations.  Thus, the tax burden fell not upon the wealthy, but on the successful, and the result was to exacerbate, not narrow the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the population.  Quit fixing things!  Leave us alone.

post-postscript:  Again today I heard a pundit reference the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.  Coincidence?, I think not.  This is obviously a scripted talking point for the left.