The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘No Poor Man Ever Gave Me a Job’

Posted on | April 14, 2011 | 35 Comments

As an impoverished American — hey, buddy, you wanna try raising six kids on a freelance journalist’s income? — I look on in amusement at the self-described “Patriotic Millionaires” who insist that they should pay more taxes. I agree with Moe Lane: “Raise Your Own Damned Taxes.”

Contrary to all the class-warfare demagoguery pouring forth from Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself), conservatives do not oppose tax increases because we are beholden to the rich. Rather, the question is whether wealth does more good when it is invested in the private sector, to create jobs and economic growth, or surrendered to the federal government as taxes to support the metastatic growth of a pestiferous bureaucracy. Rich liberals have always failed to understand blue-collar conservatism, seeking to explain away working-class support of free enterprise as the consequence of a proto-fascist “Authoritarian Personality” or (more recently), bitter gun-and-Bible clinging.

Permit me to remind you exactly how old this game is:

“If you dismiss a priori the possibility that there are rational grounds for resisting the Liberal view of things, one necessarily looks elsewhere than to reason for explanations,” Buckley wrote in his 1959 classic, Up From Liberalism. Buckley observed that “one needs no advanced degrees in clinical psychology and psychoanalytic theory in order to penetrate the fallacy of The Authoritarian Personality” — the most famous work of Adorno, a leader of what has become known as the Frankfurt School of political theory.
Adorno claimed to have proven scientifically that American conservatism was rooted in psychological maladjustment, fostering a tendency toward authoritarianism, which he asserted was the fundamental source of European fascism.
However, as Buckley explained, Adorno’s argument was a tautology based on the implicit presumption that all opposition to liberalism was illegitimate and therefore irrational. Adorno’s theory was “marvelously convenient” for liberals, Buckley said, and it has been recycled periodically ever since.

In fact, whatever the cultural component of conservatism, the Ordinary American’s resistance to redistributionist Welfare State policies is rooted in a common-sense view once magnificently expressed by Ronald Reagan: “No poor man ever gave me a job.”

Now we see rich liberals trying to drape their appeals in the flag, so that it is “patriotic” to impose higher taxes on them — except, of course, that these soi-dissant patriots don’t actually plan to pay higher taxes. Because in fact all that would be achieved by repealing the Bush tax cuts (one of Obama’s 2008 campaign promises that he neglected to fulfill while Democrats still controlled Congress) would be an increase in tax rates.

This is the Dirty Little Secret of the whole affair: Increasing tax rates does not mean that the rich will actually pay more taxes

The rich can generally arrange their affairs in such a way, with the help of lawyers and accountants, so as to pay taxes at a rate far below the nominal rate. So while the top rate might be raised to 45% — a measure that would be applauded by the “Patriotic Millionaires” — none of them would actually surrender 45% of their income to the federal government. In fact, the taxes actually paid by the ultra-rich often represent a taxation rate well below what is paid by a small businessman who in a good year makes $200,000. (And in the kind of bad years we’ve had lately, many once-prosperous small businessmen have been forced into bankruptcy, a fate that almost never befalls the ultra-rich.)

However, I do not wish to argue for the elimination of the so-called “loopholes” by which the ultra-rich evade paying the top rate, because my opposition to higher taxes has nothing to do with considerations of economic class. Rather, I oppose higher taxes because higher taxes tend only to feed the remorseless expansion of what Albert Jay Nock called Our Enemy, The State. Perhaps this would be a good place to quote a section title from P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores:

“Our Government: What the Fuck Do They Do All Day,
and Why Does It Cost So Goddamned Much Money?”

True patriotism, in the American tradition, requires a deep distrust of government power, because there is nothing more inimicable to liberty than a faraway bureaucracy that claims the authority to boss around citizens in their own interests. The federal Department of Education, for example, is a vicious menace to American liberty and whatever its annual budget is, it’s too much. Zero out their budget, fire all those damned useless overpaid bureaucrats, end all federal aid to education except benefits for military veterans and, while I would stop short of advocating that Arne Duncan be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, I would gladly contribute $20 to the legal defense fund of anyone accused of conspiring toward such ends.

But I digress . . .

Being neither a lawyer nor an accountant nor a bureaucrat — neither am I employed by any entity dependent on federal largesse — I have no stake in expanding the vast Leviathan on the Potomac by permitting it to gobble up a larger share of America’s wealth through increased taxation. My own interests are wholly on the side of promoting the economic health of the private sector, and I would argue that this policy is in the best interests of even the most conniving shiftless welfare mooch.

Government does not create wealth, and its operations can only be funded by siphoning away wealth created by the private sector. While a certain amount of government is necessary to the preservation of public order, America today has way more government than is necessary.

Our modern Welfare State was created — under the aegis of LBJ’s “Great Society” — in the 1960s, at a time when America was the world’s most prosperous nation and at the very zenith of its economic advantage over all rivals. The rapid expansion of the Welfare State between 1964 and 1981 undermined that advantage to such an extent that America has since struggled to keep pace with competitors which were barely even a blip on the global economic radar in 1964. Liberals who nowadays whine about “outsourcing” of jobs should keep in mind that it was Welfare State liberalism which destroyed America’s erstwhile economic hegemony.

Those bien-pensant liberals who view the federal government primarily as an engine of “compassion,” existing to redistribute wealth to the poor and downtrodden in the form of entitlement payments and other benefits, should consider that it is only the health of the private-sector economy which permits that sort of “compassion.”

All this is to say that even lazy welfare parasites have a stake in the prosperity of America’s free enterprise system, a prosperity which higher taxes on the rich would hinder.

As for you “Patriotic Millionaires” — you damned self-righteous hypocritical latter-day Pharisees — if you really wish to do something to help the downtrodden poor, how about you hit my freaking tip jar?

It’s for the children!

UPDATE: Linked by The Lonely Conservative and Ironic Surrealism — thanks! — and welcome, Instapundit readers!


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