By: R.J. Moeller
You may grow tired of me saying it, but I never tire of blogging it: Dr. Thomas Sowell of The Hoover Institution (on Stanford University's campus) is the wisest conservative commentator/thinker alive today. The depth and breadth of his writing is astounding to a young wanna-be writer like myself. He is an economist by trade, but the man has a firm grasp on nearly any topic touching upon history, politics, culture, and intellectualism.
His column from yesterday does a splendid job of cutting through the jibber-jabber surrounding the battle for an extension of the "Bush" tax-cuts.
Let's face it, politics is largely the art of deception, and political rhetoric is largely the art of misstating issues. A classic example is the current debate over whether to give money to the unemployed by extending how long unemployment benefits will be provided, or instead to give "tax cuts to the rich."
First of all, nobody's taxes-- whether rich or poor-- is going to be cut in this lame duck session of Congress. The only real issue is whether our current tax rates will go up in January, whether for everybody or nobody or somewhere in between.
The most we can hope for is that tax rates will not go up. So the next time you hear some politician or media talking head say "tax cuts for the rich," that will just tell you whether they are serious about facts or just addicted to talking points.
Not only are the so-called "tax cuts" not really tax cuts, most of the people called "rich" are not really rich. Rich means having a lot of wealth. But income taxes don't touch wealth. No wonder some billionaires are saying it's OK to raise income taxes. They would still be billionaires if taxes took 100 percent of their current income.
What those who are arguing against "tax cuts for the rich" are promoting is raising the tax rates on families making $250,000 a year and up. A husband and wife making $125,000 a year each are not rich. If they have a kid going to one of the many colleges charging $30,000 a year (in after-tax money) for tuition alone, they are not likely to feel anywhere close to being rich.
Many people earning an annual income of $125,000 a year do so only after years of earning a lot less than that before eventually working their way up to that level. For politicians to step in at that point and confiscate what they have invested years of working to achieve is a little much.
It also takes a lot of brass to talk about taxing "millionaires and billionaires" when most of the people whose taxes the liberals want to raise are neither. Why is so much deception necessary, if your case is good?
Not convinced yet? Read the full column here, and get back to me with your thoughts.
The sense of entitlement (to your hard-earned money) that all Democrats (and, regrettably, some Republicans) display on a daily basis is shocking. More than that it is saddening. To know that I live in a free and prosperous country, one that has been so good to so many hundreds of millions of people who have come here and worked hard, and that among us are such significant numbers of people who actually think they deserve the fruits of someone else's labor (by legal force, if necessary)...that is a disheartening proposition.
Probably the most single influential written work in my own development as a conservative (outside of The Good Book) is Frederic Bastiat's The Law. In a clear and extremely readable way, the 19th century Frenchman walks you through where rights come from, why we form governments, how those governments are supposed to behave, and what ought to be done when even the government exploits and pollutes the rights of individual citizens. I think this section from The Law below is appropriate to the discussion Dr. Sowell began in his column above.
What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.
Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?
If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.
I know this is a longer blog-post than I usually put up on a daily basis, but please stick with me here. This last excerpt from Bastiat is too important to gloss over.
But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?
The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy.
That about sums it up, no? Stupid greed. False philanthropy. Advocates for re-distribution of wealth and "bigger government" (which by definition necessitates more taxes to pay for it) can only fall under one of these two headings. They are either wildly misinformed or they are wrapping themselves in labels of "compassion" and "justice" while knowingly voting for policies that hurt this nation's economy (and society), all so they can keep their positions of power.
Not all conservatives and Republicans are 'above reproach" moral actors, but if they support lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, entrepreneurship, limited government, adherence by the courts to Constitutional principles, private charity, and school choice they don't have to be saints. They do, however, happen to be right.