Ever since Elizabeth Warren’s pro-government screed heard ’round the world, liberals have become a bit more up front in their love of big government, and in using pro-government arguments to try and shame the successful into supporting ever larger government. Businessman and Fox commentator Charles Payne isn’t buying what the liberals are selling.
Payne’s argument boils down to, I took the risks, I had the idea, I’m the one who gets up at four in the morning and works incredibly hard, so I am earning my success. Sally Kohn and Russell Simmons, representing the liberals and the occupiers, make the Elizabeth Warren argument — that Payne only succeeded because there were roads and hospitals and an infrastructure that allowed him to succeed. Therefore, he owes it to everyone else to pay more.
The liberals obviously find this argument very persuasive, since they keep repeating it over and over since Warren said it a few weeks back. It’s at once far less powerful, and far more damning to themselves, than they realize.
It’s less powerful than they think, because across most Americans in the political mainstream have reached a consensus on the basic and legitimate things that a functioning government should do or at least be involved in. Those include basic infrastructure, especially law enforcement (which Kohn brings up, in the name of protecting patents) and building and maintaining roads. You won’t get a conservative to argue that laws shouldn’t be enforce; the arguments arise over which laws should be passed in the first place, and how we can balance individual liberty with the rule of law. True, you’ll encounter a more libertarian view on items like roadbuilding here and there, but by and large most Americans don’t have a problem with paying some taxes to have the government build roads or police the streets or put out fires. Those things and defense fall under the generally accepted and agreed legitimate duties of government. It’s not as though the liberals won this argument, though: These have been the generally accepted duties of government for centuries. We argue now over whether government should force citizens to buy insurance at the point of a gun, because that has never been a legitimate power of government in the past. America’s founders rebelled against their king over far less intrusive actions.
Where the liberals go wrong is in using this shared agreement to then push for ever more intrusive government and to demand that successful people like Payne should pay more. The so-called 99 percenters call themselves such because they want to focus on the 1% who are among the most wealthy. The liberals’ accuse them of not paying their fair share, and blame the moribund economy on the wealthy and corporations for not hiring more workers. As always, such a simple minded argument fails to get within a dozen miles of the truth. And the 99 percenters math is bogus across the board. They can actually turn out less than one percent to protest in the streets. And according to the National Taxpayers Union, the richest 1% actually pay nearly 40% of the total federal tax bill. Expand that out to the top 5% and you get nearly 60% of the federal revenue intake. Factor in the fact that the bottom 50% of Americans by income end up paying no federal income tax at all, and it’s true that someone isn’t paying their fair. But it’s not the rich who aren’t paying.
The liberals’ argument truly backfires on them when you look at the one true thing they say and how it applies to the here and now. They say that government created the environment for people like Charles Payne to succeed. Fair enough. It’s hard to argue that America’s open economic system of the past helped usher in our global economic dominance. Our dynamic free economy was key to our defeat of the Soviet Union. But how many Americans are succeeding under the most liberal administration this nation has ever seen? Not nearly enough. Unemployment stands at 9.1%, and real unemployment is probably closer to 20%. Liberal policies on subprime mortgages led directly to the housing collapse, which has put the US housing market into depression and robbed millions of Americans of what was their most stable vehicle for savings and generating wealth — their home. The most liberal administration in American history has presided over the first ever credit downgrade in American history. The most liberal administration in American history must be deemed to be an abject failure. If it’s true that government can create the environment for success, it’s also true that government can create the environment for failure. And the most liberal administration in American history has done just that.
Government has gotten too big, and too dominant in the economy. Corporations aren’t hiring not because they’re stingy gits, but because the government through ObamaCare and the regulatory state has priced some labor out of the market. Businesses that don’t know what their employer liability will be, or that see their employer liability going up while taxes take more and more of their profits, are less likely to hire. Our corporate tax rates are among the highest in the world. Government, under an administration powered by the very same ideas that liberals who are out protesting and occupying agree with, has wrecked the environment for success, and there are going to be fewer Charles Paynes in the world as a result.
So, to the extent that the liberals’ argument is true, it blows up in their faces. Or at least, it would if we had an economically literate citizenry and an honest media.