To follow up on my previous column, a basic theme of contemporary American liberalism is that wealth is evil, even obscene, and that it should not be allowed. Wealth, however, should be judged not by its amount but by how it is acquired, what it is used for, and what it means to its owner. Limiting wealth is a remedy worse than the disease. Moreover, just exactly what is “obscene” wealth anyway? Who is to make that determination? Will it have an annual COLA?
Consider what the wealthy do with their money. Do they, like Ebenezer Scrooge, spend their days counting it? Not likely. They invest it and they spend it, and in both ways they advance the prosperity of others. A $10 million home may seem both ridiculous and obscene to some but it will generate many jobs and tax dollars.
In addition, they give a lot of it away. An article in the Jan. 9, 2020 issue of the Wall Street Journal (Karl Zinsmeister, “The War on Philanthropy”) says that in 2019 100 million Americans gave away about $430 billion (average household gave $3000) to a variety of causes. They could not have done this without the freedom to earn the money and the liberty to decide how to use it. The difference between charity and taxes is that charity allows choice. Zinsmeister says “Private giving achieves what government can’t – which is why authoritarians hate it.”
Another characteristic of contemporary liberalism is that truth and civility are less important than destroying people you hate. Witness the Steele dossier, Russian collusion and impeachment narratives. Dr. Wolf says, “We could end political and verbal hostility aimed at non-whites” but why limit it to non-whites? Nicholas Sandmann, for example, dared wear a MAGA cap in front of the Lincoln Memorial and smile while being taunted by a group of black youths and an elderly Native American.
Sandmann was a student at a Catholic high school. We know the Catholic Church’s position on abortion, so they all, including Sandmann, must be bigots. No need to bother with getting the truth; just savage them on national media with lies.
A third characteristic of liberalism is that anyone should be able to vote whenever or wherever they want. It matters not if that person is not a citizen, is not a resident of that jurisdiction, or is not the person he claims to be. If he walks into the voting place, he should be allowed to vote, and anyone who favors photo identification is a racist by definition. Neither does it matter that photo id’s are required to obtain a driver’s license, to check out a book at a library, to work out at a gym, to buy alcohol or tobacco, to join the military, or to enter a collegiate dormitory, to say nothing about electoral integrity.
Another principle of liberalism is that making the rich pay “their fair share” is badly needed. We don’t know what “their fair share” is but it sounds good on the stump. But, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation (www.taxfoundation.org),
• In 2016, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97 percent of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 3 percent.
• In 2016, the top 10 percent of all taxpayers paid 69.4 percent of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid the remaining 30.5 percent.
• The top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (37.3 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (30.5 percent).
• The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 26.9 percent individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.7 percent).
If this isn’t fair, it is unfair to the wealthy. Remember, people do not have to stand idly by while government strips them of their wealth. They can leave and take their wealth with them. That’s exactly what many people are doing.
A fifth principle of contemporary American liberalism pertains to foreign policy: every world problem is caused by the United States; hence everything the United States does is wrong. It is either too much or too little, too fast or too slow or too hard or too soft. Thus liberals are outraged about Soleimani’s death rather than thankful he is dead. Go figure.
Winfield H. Rose taught political science at Murray State University for 39 years and is now retired. He is active in the Calloway County GOP, but speaks here as an individual and not as a representative of either of these organizations.