One of the signature themes of the Obama administration is that the American dream is under attack due to "income disparity." The words divide the country into haves and have-nots, suggesting a national condition that needs to be corrected—presumably by "progressive" taxation as a mechanism for income redistribution. The American dream has traditionally been one of individual success that is rewarded and admired. But we are now urged to become a zero-sum society in which those achieving the American dream are envied and even resented.But that isn't how the wealth distributors see the issue. They assume all good comes from the government because it is full of well educated and wise people who know what's good for us. The problem is that view of government is naïve at best and delusional at worst.
In other words: Every dollar that is taxed away from private investment and spent by government produces fewer jobs than the jobs destroyed by the loss of private investment.
Yet the politics of envy, promoted most notably by President Obama himself, continuously stokes the idea that the wealthy are not paying their "fair share." This injured sense of unjust rewards was summed up on a radio show I heard the other day, when a caller said of the rich: "How much more do they need?"
How much more do I need? How many more jobs do you want?
Government is filled by people with the same flaws as everyone else. They are no more virtuous than anyone else. They aren't smarter. They aren't better educated. And they certainly aren't any wiser than the rest of us. In fact, these days it seems government is the last refuge of those who couldn't cut it in the real world, or worse, by people who haven't a clue about how things like businesses and the economy actually work.
That assessment may seem a bit over the top, but it's something I've noticed happening over the past 20 years or so. That's certainly true of the present occupant of the Oval Office as he hasn't run so much as a lemonade stand. But here he is, running the economy of the United States into the ground because for him it's all about some vaguely defined concept of fairness. (I doubt his definition of fair is anything like most folks.)
Reading the comments posted by readers of the linked WSJ opinion piece proves to me that there are far too many people out there who really don't understand the first thing about economics, the tax code, or the incentives and disincentives that drive businesses to do the things they do.
One of the biggest complaints made by some of the less enlightened commentators is that corporations have sent jobs overseas to 'screw the middle class', not understanding that Congress and the lobbyists that influence that once august body passed laws that made it unattractive to expand business here in the US. They also don't understand why American corporations refuse to repatriate profits made overseas. Why would anyone want to do that knowing the government is going to take 35% of that money once it reenters the US? Most of that offshore money was already taxed in the countries where it was made. As far as I can tell, we are the only nation that taxes overseas corporate profits once they are brought back in country. (It doesn't help that we have the highest corporate taxes in the world, bar none.)
I don't know about you, but it seems to me that a trillion dollars in overseas profits being returned to the US would be one hell of a boost to the economy. (Notice I didn't say “to the government”.) That money would be used here. Dividends would be paid, new investments in American businesses would take place, and in general that money would be used here. Instead it sits in banks overseas, is used to expand business overseas, is invested overseas, and makes more profits overseas. None of that money comes back here because the government thinks that 35% of it belongs them. How is it they think that such a draconian tax law would induce any corporation to repatriate profits made overseas. (And I am going to remind you once again that the US is the ONLY country that taxes repatriated profits. All other nations understand that the profits have already been taxed once and double taxation is a disincentive to bring the profits home. Even the more socialist European nations understand this.)
OK, I've gotten a bit off topic, but I think it helped illustrate the problem that we have with some of the folks in government that believe they know better how to spend our money than we do. They also believe that they know when someone has made enough money and that they are entitled to anything above that amount. Too bad for them that they have it exactly wrong.
It's time to show them they are wrong and that it's time to stop stealing from us, and particularly from those who managed to become wealthy through their own efforts.