Some conservatives believe that other conservatives, on talk radio and Fox News Channel, are damaging the cause of conservatism by dishonestly overstating their case against President Obama to increase their ratings and profits.
More reasonable Republican politicians, they argue, would like to cooperate with Obama on bipartisan solutions but don't have the power to resist these extremists with the megaphones and so have buckled in lock step to their demands and become the party of "no" and the purveyors of gridlock.
The problem is that the presuppositions underlying those allegations are wrong. There may be some exceptions, but the large majority of leading conservative voices are doing their very best to save this nation from Obama's policies, which they believe are leading to the nation's financial, cultural and national security ruin. Obama is a leftist, very extreme by historical standards. To compromise with his positions would not be in the best interest of the nation but would advance the cause of leftism, so any pressure conservatives can bring to bear on Republican politicians to strongly oppose his agenda is laudable.
I can't conceive of too many situations in which splitting the difference with Obama has advanced or would advance the cause of conservatism or constitutional liberty. We wouldn't reduce our debt, for example, by agreeing to reduce the levels of increases in spending. We couldn't improve the quality, cost and availability of health care by agreeing to more government intervention when we believe in free market solutions. We couldn't prudently agree to a half-measure stimulus package when we believe stimulus spending not only doesn't stimulate the economy but does further increase the debt. We couldn't agree to some compromise reductions in our nuclear and conventional forces if we believe that even these lesser cuts would jeopardize our national security. We couldn't agree to meet Obama halfway on energy policy by signing on to policies that punish conventional energy only half as much and waste just half as many billions on quixotic green energy debacles.
We can get mired in a semantic argument over whether Obama is a card-carrying communist, a European socialist, an admirer of Hugo Chavez's and Daniel Ortega's or, as he says, a fierce advocate of the free market, but such quibbling is more misleading than the labels themselves.
Perhaps Obama doesn't technically favor ushering in Karl Marx's "dictatorship of the proletariat" en route to the "withering away of the state" and the promised utopia. But the issue isn't whether Obama subscribes to this or that brand of socialism -- Marxism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Leninism, democratic socialism or whatever. The point is that he's a radical leftist who subscribes to the radical leftist worldview, and many of us believe that if left unchecked, he would go much further than he's gone to undermine our Constitution and our freedom tradition. Considering the degree to which he has thwarted and circumvented the Constitution and the rule of law -- and otherwise abused his executive authority during his first term -- despite facing re-election in 2012, there is no telling how radical he might become with four more years in lame duck status.
I do think a strong case can be made that he has Marxist leanings and thus believe the term is warranted as a general descriptor. For 20 years, he belonged to a church that emphasized race and materialism more than it did Christian theology. He appointed radical czars, some of whom self-identify as Marxists, and others support Chavez's track record in oppressing media freedom. He constantly demonizes the "wealthy," business and "excess profits." He obsesses over redistributing wealth. He seems to subscribe to the Marxist theory of surplus value, believing labor never receives its fair share and often abusing his executive authority to remedy that perceived injustice. He is in favor of ever-increasing government control of business and industry -- not just health care -- and has a manifest distrust of the market.
Call him what you want, but don't tell me he isn't an extreme leftist by American standards. He might be a moderate in Europe, but not here.
If not for strong conservative voices opposing his radical agenda, he would have gone much further: larger and more stimuli, much greater deficits and debt, even higher percentages of people on the welfare rolls and not paying income taxes, an even more lawless Justice Department, a single-payer health care system, the consummation of the war on conventional energy and further wasteful green energy experiments, a more progressive income tax code, a possible value-added tax, more liberal activist judges, greater unilateral disarmament, further relaxation of border control, more government control over business -- and more.
Thank God for conservative talkers and other voices on the right who aren't deterred from doing what is right for fear of being called extremists themselves.
Myths About Inequality
Because they do not seem to have any real solutions to real problems, the leftwing in this country has become fixated on a non-problem: inequality. In the process, people who harp on this idea often get their facts wrong. The following is my attempt to set the record straight.
Myth: Those at the bottom are worse off because the rich are better off.
"The rich are sucking up all the income," said Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs on Morning Joe. Surveying the past two decades, Brian Wesbury gives this answer:
Yes the top 1% saw its share of that income rise from 8.5% to 16.9%. And, yes, the bottom 50% saw its share fall from 17.7% to 13.5%, but that smaller share in 2009 was $1.05 trillion, a 265% increase… In other words, it is true that incomes at the top have risen faster than average incomes, but it is not true that any group has been made worse off. Incomes and living standards for all Americans, including those in lower-income brackets, are up. At the same time, tax burdens for those in lower-income groups have fallen substantially.
Myth: The rich are not paying their fair share of taxes.
In fact, higher income taxpayers pay a considerably larger share of the tax burden than their share of personal income (see the chart here):
* The top 1% of the income distribution earns 18% of personal income, but pays 27% of total federal tax liabilities.
* The top 10% earns 31% of the income, but pays 44% of the taxes.
* By contrast, the bottom 60% of the population receives 25% of the income, but pays only 14% of the taxes.
Myth: The income of the rich has been rising relative to everyone else.
In fact, a large part of the apparent growth in income inequality is simply the result of differences in the way Americans pay taxes. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Phil Gramm and Steve McMillan explain it this way:
In 1986, before the top marginal tax rate was reduced to 28% from 50%, half of all businesses in America were organized as C-Corps and taxed as corporations. By 2007, only 21% of businesses in America were taxed as corporations and 79% were organized as pass-through entities, with four million S-Corps and three million partnerships filing taxes as individuals.
Because of those changes, over the past 20 years the share of income of the top 1% of taxpayers coming from S-corporations tripled. Similarly, lowering the rate on capital gains encouraged taxpayers to realize gains and pay taxes on them. The lower rates on dividend income encouraged companies to pay dividends to individuals instead of keeping the funds as corporate retained earnings. Overall:
If the share of income coming from businesses, capital gains and dividends had remained at the levels before the tax rate changes of 1986, 1997 and 2003 respectively, the income of top 1% filers would have been 31% lower in 2007.
Myth: The U.S. tax system is less progressive than the tax systems of other countries.
In fact, the United States has the most progressive tax system of all developed countries. According to the most recent report from the OECD, the United States "collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population." As Gramm and McMillin explain:
When the U.S. collects 16.1% of GDP in income taxes, the top 10% of taxpayers pay 7.3% and the other 90% pick up 8.9%.
In France, however, they collect 24.3% of GDP in income taxes with the top 10% paying 6.8% and the rest paying a whopping 17.5% of GDP. Sweden collects its 28.5% of GDP through income taxes by tapping the top 10% for 7.6%, but the other 90% get hit for a back-breaking 20.9% of GDP.
If the U.S. spent and taxed like France and Sweden, it would hardly affect the top 10%, who would pay about what they pay now, but the bottom 90% would see their taxes double.
Myth: Income is the best measure of well-being.
Many wealthy people live modest lives. And many low-income families take advantage of anti-poverty programs that furnish them with housing, Food Stamps and medical care. Surely the best measure of well-being is not what people earn, but what they consume. As it turns out, there has been very little change in inequality of consumption over the past 25 years. As Diana Furthgott-Roth explains:
Government data on individual spending patterns show that the ratio of spending between the top and bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, measured on a per person basis, was essentially unchanged between 1985 and 2010. In 1985 people in the top quintile had spending that was 2.5 times that of people in the bottom quintile. By 2010, this ratio was 2.4.
Why are All the Leftist Politicians Who Hate the Rich…So Filthy Rich?
Have you ever noticed how almost all the leftist politicians who hate and want to punish the rich with draconian tax increases…are filthy rich themselves? Confusing, isn’t it?
Actually, once you know the truth it's really quite easy to understand.
Take France’s new Socialist President Francois Holland. He never stops talking about his dislike and disgust for the rich. He is almost more obsessed with hate for the rich than Obama is. Yet it turns out Holland is…drumroll please…filthy rich himself.
That’s right. Socialist Holland owns not one, not two, but three homes in Cannes on the French Riviera. Unbelievable.
In America let’s think of the biggest haters of the rich. Obama is now filthy rich. He has been since selling his autobiography after getting elected to the U.S. Senate, and buying a $2,000,000 Chicago home (with help from a convicted felon). Once Obama leaves the White House (hopefully soon), he’ll spend the rest of his life getting paid millions for books and $200,000 a pop for speeches to the business groups he hates so much.
Bill and Hillary Clinton hate the rich. They left the White House broke and owing millions in legal fees. After quickly capitalizing with books, speeches and foundations they turned zero into an $80,000,000 fortune in a few short years. I’ve never heard of a job like that. I’m not referring to being President. I’m referring to hating the rich. It seems to magically make you…filthy rich.
Al Gore is far richer than his old boss Bill Clinton. Gore the bore is worth about one billion dollars from his TV network, documentaries and stock options. All of that wealth is based on disliking the rich, and trying to tax them to death in order to save the world from global warming. But Gore uses more energy on one trip in his private jet than all of us do in a decade of driving. And Al’s 20,000 square foot mansion uses more electricity in a year than most of us pay for rent in a decade. And, don’t forget Gore started out the privileged son of a U.S. Senator.
Or take New York’s disgraced ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer. The great anti-business, anti-Wall Street crusader never bothered to disclose that his daddy owns half the buildings on Manhattan’s Fifth Ave. I’ve never owned one building in my life, yet I fight for capitalism every day. I am a capitalist evangelist. Yet someone whose daddy practically owns the world’s most exclusive avenue takes great pleasure in putting self-made rich men in prison. Do you see the irony there? Do you see the pattern?
These people are hypocrites of the highest order. They are angry and guilty for having never earned a dime of their own fortunes. By dumb luck they were dropped down the right chimney, lucky sperm club members who had everything handed to them.
So, they hate self-made rich people. Self-made men and women remind them of what they are not. They remind them of the wealth they never earned. Remind them of the deep-seated guilt they feel every day of their lives. Remind them, but for the grace of God, they could (and probably would) be riding a bus in the Bronx, headed to a blue collar job.
That’s why leftist politicians (and lawyers, media and the Hollywood elite) hate the self-made rich so much. Because they never earned their own money- and they know it.
I figured it out 30 years ago in college. I was Obama’s classmate at Columbia University, Class of ’83, a blue-collar, middle class, S.O.B. (son of a butcher) surrounded by filthy-rich, spoiled brats. Almost all my classmates were sons and daughters of privilege. They went to the fanciest prep schools, vacationed in Europe, lived in mansions on leafy streets in legendary towns from Great Neck to Sutton Place to Beverly Hills. Yet they all hated the rich. They wanted to bring down capitalism.
“Woe is me.” They were pitiful and pathetic in their white guilt. Their act to make believe they weren’t the luckiest, most spoiled, and privileged bunch in the world made me ill.
Nothing has changed in 30 years. The rich kids I met at Columbia hated the rich because they were embarrassed by the tens or hundreds of millions they had without deserving or earning it. Today they are the mainstream media, the leftist D.C politicians, and the donors that support them.
They still hate the rich. They just never disclose to anyone how rich they were on the day they were born, how every door has been opened, how everything has been handed to them their entire lives, and how every failure has been papered over with mommy and daddy’s money.
That’s the secret. Show me a self-made man or woman and I’ll show you a fiscal conservative. I'll show you someone that is proud of their success and feels they deserve to keep more of their own money.
But show me a leftist politician who hates the rich, and 95% of the time I'll show you spoiled brats who inherited their wealth, power and connections.
And the other 5% of leftists (like the Obama's and Clintons) got filthy rich by attacking the rich. That turns out to be a very lucrative business.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)