Posted on | November 14, 2010 | 17 Comments
Frank Rich, I mean. Three weeks ago, I spent an hour or so debunking his claim that Obama cut your taxes. Being quite proud of the result, I immediately e-mailed it to Instapundit and . . . no linky-love.
So after about four or five hours, I e-mailed him again: “I don’t get it. Here we have Frank Rich using his New York Times column to push a bogus Democratic Party talking-point a week before the election, and I’ve expended the time and effort to dismantle it, and no linky-love? What gives?”
The answer came in the subsequent link:
Well, the election is over and Americans evidently weren’t swayed by that idiotic Obama-cut-your-taxes propaganda, so I suppose Professor Reynolds is right: Frank Rich can be ignored as harmless.
It is nevertheless enjoyable practice to dismantle the endless idiocy of the Worst Columnist in America the World All Human History.
Today, for example, Rich denounces those “wealthy Americans . . . who take far more from America than they give back.”
Rich’s editors permit him to go on in this vein for 1,538 words in a column that involves no original reporting. He interviewed no one. He didn’t pick up the phone and call any sources, nor did this column require him to set foot outside his apartment. He watches “60 Minutes,” reads Think Progress and throws in some “empirical evidence” from a “deservedly lauded new book” by two political science professors.
What is the journalistic purpose of such an effort? Where is the value to the New York Times?
One possible answer: Rich articulates the inner rationale by which the newspaper’s liberal readership justify their political prejudices. He lends his Harvard-educated eloquence to these prejudices, providing his readers with reassurance that they’re absolutely right and that anyone who disagrees with them is hopelessly ignorant.
“Obviously, these Republican voters are so stupid they don’t even read the New York Times!”
To spare you the effort of actually reading Frank Rich’s column, permit me to extract the most important words in it:
“very wealthy Americans . . . rich people . . . The wealthy Americans . . . those individuals at the apex of the economic pyramid — the superrich . . . The top 1 percent of American earners . . . the very top earners . . . the wealthiest . . . the wealthiest Americans . . . plutocracy . . . the top 1 percent of Americans . . . the very rich . . . the superrich . . . the top earners . . . Those in the higher reaches . . . the wealthiest Americans . . . the superrich”
The liberals whose prejudices Frank Rich intends to flatter are evidently obsessed with “the wealthiest Americans” and fervently believe that the biggest problem facing the nation is that these “superrich” don’t pay enough taxes.
Also, blame Bush!
The entire point of Rich’s 1,538-word opus, you see, is that the “Bush tax cuts” should be allowed to expire, at least on some category of “the very top earners” who — as he says — “take more from America than they give back.”
Clever reader, did you spot the bait-and-switch there?
Leave aside the question of whether it is fair to say that “those individuals at the apex of the economic pyramid” are engaged in taking from America. To whom does Frank Rich propose that they “give back” this allegedly ill-gotten wealth?
To the U.S. government!
This is one of those Stupid Liberal Tricks that the rest of us aren’t supposed to be smart enough to notice. Liberals do this stuff all the time. They love to use terms like “society” or “the American people” when in fact they mean “the federal government,” and they evidently don’t understand why this verbal prestidigitation is misleading.
Saying that “society must take action” to solve some problem — homelessness, pollution, childhood obesity, etc. — is a very different thing than saying, “Hey, let’s pass a federal law empowering a bunch of bureaucrats to go poking their noses into your personal business at taxpayer expense.”
This is an argument about ends and means.
Take childhood obesity, for example. You probably agree that it’s a bad thing for kids to be fat and you may take alarm at studies showing that American kids are turning into Generation Blubberbutt.
The real argument over childhood obesity, however, is about what government policy (if any) should be employed to discourage it. Perhaps we could mandate that elementary schools adopt a mandatory anti-obesity curriculum that includes a new textbook: Hey, Lardass: Stop Sitting on the Sofa Playing Video Games and Eating Junk Food All Day (and Don’t Try to Tell Me It’s Hereditary, Unless You Want Me to Start Cracking Fat Jokes About Your Mama).
Ditto the problem of the “supperrich.”
It may well be, as Frank Rich says, that there is something harmful in the accumulation of multibillion-dollar fortunes by Warren Buffett or Bill Gates or whoever else he deems “the wealthiest Americans.” You may wholeheartedly share Rich’s apparent loathing of “plutocracy” and yet disagree with his assertion that the way to deal “the systemic damage being done by the ever-growing income inequality” is to increase marginal tax rates on greedy scoundrels.
Simple question: What is the purpose of taxation?
Simple answer: To provide revenue to the government.
Difficult question: How much more revenue would be provided to the federal government if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire for the “superrich”?
Difficult answer: We don’t know.
Economists might be able to estimate the additional revenue to be gained by some hypothetical change in the tax code, but they cannot predict those gains.
People may (and demonstrably do) change their economic behavior in reaction to changes in the tax code, and one of the most predictable behavioral changes is this: Rich people will get their accountants and tax lawyers to find some way to avoid paying extra taxes, no matter what policy you enact.
The tax-avoidance industry would therefore be the one guaranteed winner if Frank Rich’s argument prevails.
Do I hate accountants and lawyers? Is my support for extending the Bush tax cuts merely the product of a pervese desire to punish these people? Not at all.
Rather, it is my belief that the “superrich” can spend or invest or give away their own money a lot more wisely and productively than can the federal government.
Of all the problems in the world that we should be worried about — including lardass kids and their fat mamas — the very last problem we should be worried about is whether the federal government is collecting enough tax revenue.
The federal government collects way too much money already, and anything that keeps another nickel out of the hands of those vultures at the IRS is fine with me. If Ted Turner cashed in his entire fortune, converted it all to Krugerrands and smuggled it to the hills of Cambodia where he would then live out his twilight years protected by a private army of hired goons, I’d applaud his act of criminal madness, insofar as it would deprive the federal government of revenue.
And it would sure as hell be better than Ted giving his money to the United Nations.
How the hell did I get off on that sidetrack? I started off arguing the simple premise that Frank Rich is an idiot and next thing I knew, I was envisioning Ted Turner hiding out in the Cambodian hills . . .
Well, it was enjoyable practice, anyway, and a helluva lot more fun than whatever else I might have done with that time.
Instapundit probably won’t link this, of course. But that’s not the point. And you’re probably saying to yourself, “The point? You mean there’s actually a point to this lunatic gibberish?”
Yes, there is.
Otherwise, I’ll start cracking fat jokes about your mama, lardass.