Those damn rich people
By Frank Salvato
Throughout the debate over the extension of the tax rates, aka the Bush tax cuts, we have witnessed a concerted effort by Democrats and Progressives to demonize the wealthy. This demonization has crossed over into the on-going argument over the Estate Tax, aka the Death Tax. At every turn we are made to feel that the wealthy have no right to "monopolize" all of their riches when government could use a goodly portion of that wealth to "help" the down-trodden, the disenfranchised and the less fortunate. Truth be told, the government can't do anything equal to what the wealthy in the private sector do to "help" those individuals.
Before we get into the issue of the rich and their wealth, let's dispense with the myth that government can create jobs. Oh sure, the government can create employment through expanding the reach of government; by expanding government as an entity, but those jobs require an increase in taxation on the rank-and-file citizenry in order to cover the paychecks issued to those government workers. Government – aside from the blood-money interest produced by TARP and the ill-gotten gains of government through the hostile takeover of General Motors – cannot create wealth, ergo; it does not have the ability to amass wealth in order to expand; in order to create jobs. Simply put, when government creates a job, that employee is paid by the taxpayer, not the government; that employee is paid by the private sector.
Which brings me back to the wealthy and their riches.
If we are to believe Progressive activists like Congressman Anthony Weiner (P-NY), who say, "...Does it make sense that people who get, who make a million or a billion dollars in income should get tax cuts and Social Security recipients shouldn't get a cost of living adjustment," then we would have to believe that an individual's earnings – not just the wealthy, but anyone – are subject to an arbitrary and ever-changing threshold that determines who is wealthy and who is a common man. This threshold, consequently, is set by politicians who today do a damn fine job of using taxpayer dollars to grease the handles in the voting booths, if you get my drift.
With all due respect to Congressman Weiner – and he is due very little – the problem is not a matter of lost tax revenue, the problem is out-of-control government spending. The reason Social Security recipients aren't getting a cost of living increase is because: a) politicians have unethically borrowed against the total of the Social Security funds surrendered by Americans throughout the existence of the Social Security program, and b) politicians thought it a wise use of taxpayer dollars – via the first stimulus debacle – to construct highway tunnels for sea turtles and sanctuaries for the San Francisco salt marsh mouse, among other things not covered under the "General Welfare" provision of the US Constitution. So, American seniors, when you have to eat ramen noodles instead of vermicelli be sure to thank each and every spendthrift politician who just had to gorge at the taxpayer funded special interest feed trough. They are the ones who screwed you out of a Social Security COLA, not the wealthy.
Which leads me to a critical point; just what do Progressives and Democrats think that the wealthy people do with their money once they make it? Do they believe that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Peter Lewis and George Soros, convert their money into gold coins and wallow in the massive piles of sparkling decadence? Well, they probably do – or at least they would like you to believe they do.
In reality, the wealthy always – always – deposit their earnings, their wealth, their riches, in a bank. They might take a portion of their earnings and buy stocks or bonds. The point is this; the money that the wealthy earn is literally reinvested into the private sector through their deposits and investments. Banks take the deposits and turn them into loans for the private sector, both for individuals and entrepreneurs. The money that the wealthy invest in stocks and bonds go to finance small and large businesses and corporations alike, and sometimes those corporations, especially the small businesses, use that capital to expand. And what does the expansion of small business mean? Jobs.
Conversely, when the government confiscates wealth from the wealthy it is not spent on the needs of those on Social Security (no COLA this year, again) or those on Medicare (cuts are already taking place), those funds go to establish behemoth, destined to fail programs like Obamacare or to extend, yet again, unemployment benefits and misappropriated benefits for illegal immigrants who shouldn't have a seat at the US taxpayer's teat.
"But Frank, how can you say such things about the unemployed?"
To those who ask that question I say this; which is better, to give a man a fish so that he can eat today, or to teach a man to fish so he will never go hungry again? Of course, to the thinking men and women of America, learning to fish is the only correct answer.
To put it another way, which is better, having a person cultivate a dependency on a government hand-out, or creating an environment where that same person would otherwise be employed? Creating a dependent does not pay into the tax base, in fact, it creates a societal burden for all the taxpayers. But creating an environment where the private sector – not the government, but the private sector – can create jobs so that there are employment opportunities, those jobs, those new workers do pay into the tax base. Theoretically, the more people contributing to the tax base the more funding for the purpose of government. I say theoretically for the simple fact that politicians would find a way to turn Midas into a government dependent given the chance.
And what of the greedy wealthy people with hearts of stone and their contemptuous manners? That's the picture that people like Congressman Weiner want people to paint of the wealthy, isn't it? The rich, the wealthy, the privileged are people unwilling to "pay their fair share"; people who always look down on those "less fortunate." Isn't that the class warfare rhetoric that we continuously hear from the Progressives and the Liberal Left?
True story. I know a couple that most people would consider rather well off; wealthy, in fact. They have more than one home and both are quite nice. They are able to travel when they like and they enjoy the finer things in life. The man worked very hard to make a success of a family business and has reached a plateau that few realize in life. Bottom line, he worked very hard for his success and that hard work came complete with the sacrifices that one has to make in order to achieve that success: issues that affected family, issues that found him working long hours and even hours that encroached on special occasions and holidays. But with that hard work and sacrifice and over a lifetime, they arrived at their station, and deservedly so.
Now, Congressman Weiner would have you believe that not only should my friends pay more in taxes than everyone else, seeing as they surpass Mr. Weiner's threshold for being wealthy, but, and this is by Mr. Weiner's own admission, they should pay more even after they die. When asked recently by FOX News' Megan Kelly whether the Death Tax – the Estate Tax – was fair, whether it was immoral to tax a person's wealth twice, Mr. Weiner callously exclaimed, "You aren't paying anything in that case because you'll be dead." Wow!
Far from being the coldhearted cretins Congressman Weiner would have you believe rich people are, those who have achieved wealth – the American dream, by the way – are the ones who engage in philanthropy; they give to charities, to religious institutions, to private sector programs and sometimes, out of the goodness of their hearts, to other individuals, just because they see someone in need.
To continue the story about my friends...
Every now and again – and it is more often than one would suspect – this husband and wife, this wealthy couple, these "coldhearted" millionaires, go to the bank and take out a sizeable amount of cash (at least to you and me) in $20 bills. They then go down to the USO at the international airport in their city and hand out all of the money to the soldiers who are in transit so that they can get themselves a meal, use the local Internet café, call their loved ones while they are on layover, etc., each time thanking each and every soldier for their service, their sacrifice and the sacrifices made by their families.
In addition, they help to fund organizations that provide medical care for sick children and organizations that quest to educate the public on Americanism and the threats to our country.
These are who the "wealthy" people in America are; patriots, job creators, philanthropists, Mothers and Fathers; excellent human beings who want what is best, not only for their children but for everyone's children; honest hard-working people who would rather help someone by providing them the wherewithal to make a living than to see them sucked into the government abyss of cyclical dependency.
So, the next time you hear a Progressive like Anthony Weiner pompously spouting off about how the wealthy are evil and how the only savior for the down-trodden is government, ask yourself this question: who took money that could have created a private sector job for someone who is unemployed and, instead, spent it on sea turtle tunnels and salt marsh mouse sanctuaries?
Then think about how our soldiers feel when complete strangers come up to them in airports – perhaps during the Christmas season when they are far from their loved ones – and say, "Thank you for your service and your sacrifices...please, have lunch on me."
Who, I ask you, uses the money more appropriately?
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Phoenix Broadcasting Network and on NetTalkWorld Global Talk Radio catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.