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Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2002 / 9 Shevat, 5762

Linda Bowles

Linda Bowles
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Consumer Reports

(Recession) Games that people (must) play


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- A RECENT "Quote of the Week" in Human Events featured a pithy remark by former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp. In one loaded sentence, Kemp defined the major difference between Democrats and Republicans. Kemp said this: "It's difficult to argue you are for working men and women when your policies prevent them from working by destroying the businesses that would employ them."

Kemp was, of course, describing Democrat efforts to create jobs and prosperity by squeezing money from private businesses in the middle of a recession. On Jan. 4, Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle gave a major speech in which he asserted with a sly smile that the Bush tax cuts were responsible for the current economic recession. He was also concerned that the tax cuts would cause budget deficits.

Daschle's economic philosophy, and that of most liberals, is simple. Raising taxes and increasing government spending is the best way to deal with a recession, create jobs, stimulate the economy and balance the budget.

On Jan. 17, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., proposed a rollback of $350 billion of the $1.5 trillion 10-year tax cut approved last May. Reviving a worn-out class warfare argument, he wants to take away that portion of the future tax cuts "that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest tax payers." He does not want to save this money to balance the budget, he wants to spend it on other programs. He also proposed the permanent cancellation of all reductions in the "death tax."

Perhaps what we have in view is not altogether a malicious intent to hang a recession around President Bush's neck. Perhaps the game being played has larger and more insidious purposes than that. Perhaps, we are witness to another ugly chapter of one of the greatest scams in history.

The basic format of the scam is to take money from people who have earned it and give it to others in exchange for votes, contributions and power -- and look like heroes in the process. Actually, being able to pull this off is not easy. It requires manipulation that is gargantuan in size and Machiavellian in deceitfulness.

For the scam to work, successful people, wealthy people, businesspeople and big corporations must be characterized as selfish and greedy. They have succeeded at the expense of others. Every dirty dollar they have was taken from some poor person. In effect, they have taken an unfair share of the pie, leaving less for others.

On the other hand, poor people are victims. They are not responsible for their condition. Their lot would be much better had they not been stepped on and robbed of their livelihood by the heartlessness of the greedy rich. The success of others is responsible for their lack of success. They are "owed." Justice requires these social wrongs be corrected by a transfer of wealth. Thus, the achievers are made to feel guilty for their success and hence less inclined to protest when their pockets are picked by liberal politicians. And the "noble poor" accept the hand-outs with a sense of self righteousness, having been convinced they have a "right" to the fruit off someone else's tree.

The truth is this that the amount of wealth available in our society is not finite. The size of the economic pie is not fixed. The size of the pie may be increased through investment and growth. That means when one person gets rich, it is not necessarily at the expense of someone else.

When a new company forms around a new product, the entrepreneur who makes it happen by taking great personal risks winds up with an infinitesimal piece of the pie he creates. If the company is successful, he is lucky if he retains one percent of the wealth created. The rest of it goes to employee wages and benefits, local and federal taxes, insurance companies, suppliers of raw materials and parts, etc.

If the company fails, he may lose everything he owns. If he is successful, he gets rich and enlarges the size of the pie available to others. Such men and women are the true heroes of our society. They create wealth and jobs. They raise our standard of living. They pay the bills. They are not the enemy.

The tragedy-in-process that moves our country toward socialism is based on the success of liberalism in teaching people to look to big government rather than to themselves for the satisfaction of their needs -- and to man's law, rather than to God's commandments, for moral direction.

The ultimate tragedy will consist of a massive redistribution of wealth and power -- not as is commonly believed from one citizen to another, but from all citizens to the government.



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© 2002, Creators Syndicate