Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Your Money as Viewed from the Left

Jonah Goldberg in today's NRO quotes Gene Sperling, Hillary Clinton's chief economic adviser, as saying "The question is, should we be giving an extra $120 billion to the top 1%?"

Sperling's reference is to tax cuts. His perspective is instructive. Apparently everything we earn belongs to the government. The only question, in his view, is how much of it the government will let us keep.

It is difficult to quantify how far removed from basic American principles this view pushes the left. Sentiments like this dredge up images of Soviet Commissars concocting five year plans that were the laughing stock of the world while dooming millions to lives of desperation and never ending queing up for food.

What sort of egotism results in the view that a bureaucrat should take from a producer as much as he sees fit in order to spend it differently than would the producer of all this wealth? If I am so smart, lucky, rapacious or energetic as to place myself within the top 1% of all earners in the biggest, wealthiest economy in all of human history it is quite possible that I would spend it well. In fact, it is arguable that whatever I choose to spend it on would be spending it well and spending it more effectively than government would.

I took an economics course long ago about which I remember very little except the color of the text book cover, blue, and one nugget of information. The nugget is that spending by the private sector creates more wealth than spending by government. I don't remember the explanation for that bit of information. I do know that I have seen it repeated in real life twice. The tax cuts of the 80's produced a huge boom and dramatically increased tax revenues. The tax cuts of the 2000's produced a huge boom and dramatically increased tax revenues.

That the Congress, state, county and local governments have chosen to use most if not all of it to fund new programs and produce budget problems doesn't change the facts: Less taxation = more economic activity = more tax revenue.

The fruits of my labor do not belong to the government. They belong to me. I am willing to contribute a portion of what I earn to the government for the common good. I think that is the sentiment this country was founded on.

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