The Washington Post ran a column a few days ago, in which a Mr. Joel Berg applauds the Obama Administration for reducing the amount of charitable deduction that The Rich are allowed to take when they write a check to charity.
Mr. Berg – who runs a charitable foundation that feeds the poor — explains things for us thusly:
“…It is wrong to give them [the very rich] unilateral power to decide whether their taxpayer-subsidized donations should go to, say, well-heeled operas or lavish care of pets rather than to organizations that meet more pressing communal needs.”
Mr. Berg lists two specific ways in which The Rich have been Letting Down the Team – again.
“First,” he writes, “such tax deductions are a highly inefficient way to fund social programs.” Got that? He continues: “Second, voluntary private charity is a less equitable way to solve community problems.”
See the problem here? “When the wealthiest Americans donate to charities,” writes Berg, “they are most likely to give to universities, hospitals and cultural institutions from which they and their families may benefit.”
The filthy swine!
The answer is simple. Don’t let The Rich have a big deduction on charitable giving, since they will donate to stupid things like the Arts or medical centers, instead of those charities doing important things – like Mr. Berg’s.
No sir! The answer is clear: simply tax them more.
“Combined with other progressive Obama tax proposals, that change would not only start to redress the inequality gap that has engulfed America in recent decades but would also help to pay for many effective domestic programs…”
…Which Mr. Berg then helpfully goes on to list.
Well, I read this article in the Washington Post, and I thought: there you have it. The top ten percent, that pays sixty percent of the total income tax and which allows the bottom half – HALF! – to pay nothing… Those horrible, greedy bastards are not using their free-will generosity as “efficiently” as the government can, so let’s just take more of their money and call it square.
So let me now send a personal message to The Rich in America…
As an American and a patriot, I implore you – I go to my knees and beg you – LEAVE NOW.
Leave. Just go away. Retire to the Cayman Islands or Bermuda or wherever, but do it now, please, while you still have some love for this country. Close your companies, fire your employees, shutter your factories and offices, sell your property, and take all of that somewhere else… better yet: somewhere scenic but poverty-stricken. Somewhere that could use some wealth creation. Somewhere that people simply are grateful to have a job in the first place. Somewhere where you will be appreciated.
You are not welcome in America any more. Take your wealth and prosperity and inventiveness and hard work and vision and insight and bold risk-taking and joy in seeing growth and wealth creation and just go away – right now, before it’s too late. Because if you stay, Joel Berg and Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd will continue to come after you for more and more and more and they will not ever stop – not ever – until you are forced to flee. And when that day comes, you will go with not with fond remembrances and a desire to return home, but rather a black heart and hard and bitter memories.
So on behalf of those few of us who still believe in the Land of Opportunity, I beg you and implore you, in the name of our common patriot ancestors who worked so hard and sacrificed so much so that we could become so spoiled and ungrateful: take your 60% of the total income taxes and just go away.
Because if you do, then there will no longer be an Enemy for the Left to stick it to. Then, perhaps, the half of the country that pays no income tax might have to put some skin in the game. Then, perhaps, with most of the wealth generation gone we will turn to our community organizers to provide the wealth creation, and the tax dollars, and the innovation. When you have gone the President of the United States, supported by an army of little acorns like Joel Berg, will have to start calling for the rest of us to be taxed more to address the inequality gap.
That’s what I want.
You see, I’ve actually been there. I have experienced this pathology from the inside.
There was a time, in my twenties, when I was very poor. I have sat silent in an apartment, shades drawn, silently waiting for the loud knocking of the landlord to go away. I have borrowed enough money to have to decide whether or not to restore the electricity, or the telephone. (And by the way, that decision is a no-brainer.) I have been that broke long enough to realize something about myself.
I was living off of the charity of friends. The charity of friends – do I make myself clear? I never applied for welfare or food stamps because – silly me – I thought that was for people who really needed it.
After a year or two being constantly bailed out by my friends – “Wheel-less Whittle” they called me, far more kindly than I deserved – after several years of their largesse, and because my delicate artistic nature prevented me from getting any number of the actual paying jobs I could have landed in a half-hour – I began to get angry with them, especially my best friend, Fritz. Yes, he bought me lunch and dinner and drove me everywhere. Yes, he helped cover my electric bills and rent. But he was making out like a bandit: he was a successful commercial actor in Miami, making over a hundred grand a year.
And so I stopped looking at what he did for me, and started looking at what he could do, but didn’t. I went to him with a plan for him to pay my entire rent and expenses. He refused, the miserable selfish bastard. Not because he couldn’t afford it, mind you, but because he was getting really worried about me and thought it would – get this, Mr. Berg! – do me harm.
And I was furious. Furious. For two weeks I hated him with a white-hot rage.
That is the pathology – that is the sickness – that dependency breeds: resentment and hostility to those that help you the most.
And I will add one thing to this story, if only to cover the shame of me dredging it up for you to see: I fought this dependency cycle for most of my middle life. I lived in his garage for a while. And then, finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I went out and found a job. Actually, his wife got it for me. But I took it. By some unknown action of grace or luck my new employer advanced me $300 and I bought a used bike and rented a dirty room in a cheap motel. I rode the bike to work at 5:00 am and put in several hours on a second project, and then would stay late after work and put in three or four more. This actually isn’t too hard, when you have nothing to go home to.
I was six weeks in that motel, paying by the week. I had saved enough for an apartment. The first two places I went to turned me down flat. I do not remember what my credit score was, but So Help Me God I do know it was below 350.
Finally I found a place that accepted me based on my pay stubs and the shame written on my face. When the second project finally paid, a few months later, I was able to buy a used car. A year later I used that car to drive 45 miles a day to get a job that paid almost twice as much. I would be so tired, driving home after 11:00 pm, that I remember praying that the car ahead of me was going to my apartment because I was too tired to do anything other than follow him down the 405.
That job led to a better job. That better job led to a better one, and then a better one, then a great job, and that is where I am now. And all my life, from the time I was five, I had always had a single dream: to own my own airplane. I’d like to be able to say I worked hard to achieve that dream for as long as I held it, but that’s just not true. It was just a dream, not a goal. Then, two and a half years ago, another friend rode to my aid. Dana and I both had a dream of owning a small airplane in which we could give free rides to anyone who wanted one — just to share the experience that has so moved us with those that might not otherwise get the chance. And then — through her hard work and discipline over the many years I had been adrift — we were able to buy one, and I have been paying for my half slowly through the hard work and discipline I have come to acquire.
From this transformational experience I learned something new and re-learned something old: first, a dream becomes a goal once you make a viable plan and stick to it, and second, the single most important thing you do in life is choose your friends.
Needless to say, I’m not one of The Rich that all of this vitriol is aimed at, but the thought occurs to me that if I keep this new attitude up I might become one some day… at which point I can look forward to paying enough to cover the half of the country that pays nothing, and have my charitable efficiency rated by Mr. Berg.
I don’t carry that vitriol myself. I know a few of The Rich. The one I know best I met forty years ago over a breakfast of generic brand breakfast cereal and grey powdered milk. I watched him come up with an idea, shop it around, face failure and go back at it again. I worked for him in the early days. He was there when I arrived and remained after I left, every single day. He owns three houses now, and has made all of his employees rich too. When I visit him in these magnificent places, I think back to the two-bedroom house that housed his family of six, and I am curiously enough not filled with rage that someone lives in such a palace. I am, in fact, uplifted and motivated to live in such a place myself. Perhaps I shall, someday.
Until then, you’ll be happy to know I’m not angry at my friend Fritz any more. I paid back every dime I borrowed, and his money is no good when I am in his company. I am determined that he never pays for another lunch or dinner for the rest of my life or his, whichever comes first.
And I say all of this – all of it – simply because I wake up to discover that in this country today, this better, harder-working, more productive, kinder and happier man I have become is now in thrall to the bitter, angry, ungrateful and despicable adolescent I once was. Well, that bitterness and envy was powered only by the fact that a better man than I was allowed me to become that way through his kindness, and then forced me to break out of that addiction out of real love for me and fear about what I had become.
So to The Vilified Rich, I beg you now: do for the rest of the country what my friend did for me… do for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves. Break us of this addiction to the generosity of others. Just go away for a while, voluntarily, and leave the rest of us to look around and wonder where all the money and the jobs went. It will be painful, and it will be bitter, and our rage will be a terrible thing to see. But then, either we will get better, or we won’t. All will depend on whether or not we still feel the shame, and find the courage, to recover for ourselves the mastery over our own lives that once existed for all Americans, before you few despicable rich people came and started paying for more than half of everything. Which, as is obvious now, was not nearly enough.
If we can break this fever, then you can come back with your jobs and your capital and your vision and your wealth, which was generated by producing something large numbers of people found worth paying for. But go now, while you still love America enough to want to come back some day. Because if you don’t shut this thing down, and soon, the Bergs and Obamas will take and take and take from you until you never want to see this Godforsaken land again.