American Elephants


How to Think Clearly About the Issue of Taxes. by The Elephant's Child

Keith Hennessey made an important point about taxes last week. “The government doesn’t give tax cuts, it takes more or less taxes.” The president spoke to a number of college crowds in favor of raising taxes on the rich to subsidize low interest rates on student loans. The President said:

How can we want to maintain tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them? I don’t need one. I needed help back when I was your age.  I don’t need help now. (Applause) I don’t need an extra thousand dollars or a few thousand dollars.  You do.

“Let’s assume,” Hennessey says “that you agree with the President — that a college student has a greater need for an extra thousand dollars than a rich person. By itself that judgment does not mean that raising taxes on the rich to further subsidize student loans is good policy.  To make a balanced decision you also need to incorporate the harm done by taking money from someone, a factor the President’s quote ignores because it treats tax cuts as given rather than taxes as taken.” (emphasis added)

The language the President uses assumes that it is the government’s money in the first place and the government can decide whether to give it to college graduates to pay for their student loans or to give it to rich people. If we agree with this logic, then because the new graduates have greater need, government should give them the money.  In this assumption, the money belongs to the government, so the government should distribute those funds  according to need — then the government gives tax cuts to people only when government officials decide that these people need them.

What is ignored here is that the government only gets their government money by taking it from someone. And taking has consequences. It harms the person from whom the government took the money, and it weakens incentives to work and invest. The President’s vocabulary is full on “giving tax cuts” or “give tax cuts”.” Hennessey queried whitehouse.gov for that terminology and turned up 248 hits.

The President’s language puts us on a slippery slope. If we treat all tax revenues as if they originate within the government, then we create a moral parity between giving tax cuts and increasing government spending. That means we trust government officials to reallocate society’s resources to those whom they decide have the most need while ignoring the harm done by the taking. By ignoring the harm done by taking we set no limiting principle on the government’s ability to take that which we earn and own and give it to others. We make the rich pay more because they have greater ability to pay and less need. Sound familiar?

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
(Karl Marx (Critique of the Gotha Program 1875)

 A mark of successful and efficient government is not how much they spend, but how little they take of their citizens’ money. It isn’t the government’s money.

The government has not been successful nor efficient. The government caused an enormous loss of the wealth of their citizens. Instead of creating a  business climate that made it easier for businesses to invest and hire, they did a lot more taking. And they invested their takings in brand new programs that the people didn’t want.



Terrorists! Monsters! Zombies! Vampires! Aliens! by The Elephant's Child

Liberals are consumed with fury. Here’s another example from Maureen Dowd who compares the Tea Party to the monsters in horror movies:

They were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion. They were like zombies, relentlessly and mindlessly coming back again and again to assault their unnerved victims, Boehner and President Obama. They were like the metallic beasts in “Alien” flashing mouths of teeth inside other mouths of teeth, bursting out of Boehner’s stomach every time he came to a bouquet of microphones.

Victor Davis Hanson points out Obama’s own three-step habit that turns off—everybody.

1. There is the initial call for civility, working across the aisle, and bipartisanship.  2. This is followed by an unleashing of a Chicago-style assault on his opponents”hostage-takers,” “bring a gun to a knife fight,” “kick ass,” “get in their faces,” “fat-cats” and “millionaires and billionaires.” 3. Then he votes present and hits the links.

Stanley Kurtz, Obama scholar, explains the community organizer who is trying to adapt Alinsky’s teaching to the presidency:

Here’s my take on the puzzle of Obama’s leadership style. Obama is still every inch the Alinskyite organizer. He talks about uniting, even as he deliberately polarizes. He moves incrementally toward radical left goals, but never owns up to his ideology. Instead, he tries to work indirectly, by way of the constituencies he seeks to manipulate.

“Leading from behind” is classic Alinskyite strategy. The idea is for the organizer to find out what the people he’s organizing want, give them enough of that to gain authority and control, then slowly and quietly push the group in his ideological direction, all the while making it seem as though the plan is what the people themselves have asked for. Obama used to literally lead from behind, by stage-managing his group’s protests from the back of the room, while the ostensible leaders took charge on stage. That is what Alinskyite organizers do.

Alinskyite organizers are tough when facing down the “enemy” (their word), but subtle, stealthy, and incremental when dealing with the members of their own group. Above all, they are never openly ideological. Everything is portrayed as pragmatism.

The trouble with Obama’s Alinskyite leadership style is that he’s trying to adapt it to the presidency, a role it was never designed for.

The thing you need to remember about all this fulminating and frothing at the mouth is that those “terrorists” in the Tea Party, if they take over completely, want you to keep more of your own money, and to be reasonably free of government regulation.  Vicious!

The Liberals object because they think it’s their money.




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