Roger’s Rules

Another stupid idea from the AFL-CIO

“Puritanism,” said H.L. Mencken, is “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

The censorious folks at the AFL-CIO feel similiarly about wealth. They are haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere may be getting rich.

Their latest plan to put a stop to the orgy of American prosperity comes to us with the aid of the AFL-CIO’s natural collaborators in wealth destruction, the Democratic Party. Remember Chief Justice Marshall’s observation that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy”? The AFL-CIO hasn’t forgotten, and neither have the Democrats.

Their latest wheeze is to tax each and every stock trade. “The nation’s largest labor union and some allied Democrats are pushing a new tax,” The Hill reports, “that would hit big investment firms such as Goldman Sachs reaping billions of dollars in profits while the rest of the economy sputters.”

Right: the bloodhounds of the Left have assiduously nosed around the U.S. economy and discovered a bit that is still profitable. Wham! We can’t have that, can we? Making money while Government Motors is in receivership.

According to Thea Lee, policy director at the AFL-CIO,

“It would have two benefits, raise a lot of revenue and discourage speculative financial activity. The big disadvantage of most taxes is that they discourage some really productive activity,” she said. “This would discourage numerous financial transactions. People flip their assets several times in an hour or a day. They make money but does it really add to the productive base of the United States?”

Got that? The labor union, with the connivance of the Democrats, their “allies,” wants to put its hand into your pocket — just a little way, though. This won’t hurt at all. Trust me.

Of course, if you’re Goldman Sachs, there might be some unpleasantness. Unlike an individual, a large investment entity might make thousands and thousands of trades. That eensy-weensy little soupçon of a tax begins to add up. Bottom line: the AFL-CIO-Democratic conglomerate has hit upon yet another way 1) to extract money from taxpayers while 2) punishing success and discouraging entrepreneurship and business innovation.

And note this: Ms. Lee asks “They make money but does it really add to the productive base of the United States?” She believes that is a rhetorical question, what the Latinists among you will recall is denominated a “num” question: a question, that is, expecting the answer “no.” But she is wrong about that. The truth is, because entities like Goldman Sachs make a lot of money they therefore “add to the productive base of the United States”–“really,” to employ Ms. Lee’s snarky adverb.

I feel embarrassed pointing out the obvious, but perhaps it is necessary–really necessary–to remind the policy director of the AFL-CIO and her Democratic allies that there is a direct causal link between the production of wealth–that’s what “making money” is, really, you know–and adding to the productive base of a country. Jobs: they depend on companies being able to afford to employ people. Your local haberdashery or grocery store or hardware emporium or automotive showroom: they depend on people having money to spend, too. Ditto the housing industry and everything else that comes with a price tag.

Wealth produces wealth. Taxes reduce wealth. Got it?