You’ve heard it millions of times, and you heard it throughout the Democratic National Convention:
There are the “haves” and the “have nots.” Those who have are duty-bound to give to those who do not have, based on the supposedly moral imperative of redistribution. Those who “struggle at the bottom” are entitled to the help (always in the form of government) from those closer to the “top.”
In order to figure out why these arguments never die, let’s start with a psychological theory. Politicians and intellectuals who make this argument engage in psychological projection.
Psychological projection means assuming an emotional reaction in another which really refers to your own emotional reaction or behavior. For example, a husband who’s cheating on his wife may be quick to fear that his own wife is cheating on him, even if she’s only a few minutes late returning from the grocery store. He’s projecting his own motives and behaviors onto his wife.
Leftists, including Obama, are doing the same thing. They’re assuming that, for example, the poor immigrant woman working as a cleaning lady is miserable at her job. Of course, any individual can be miserable at his or her job for a variety of reasons.
Why assume that all people who work in lower level jobs are unhappy, without any evidence to back it up? Because the leftist, Barack Obama or whoever else, can’t imagine doing such work himself. “If I would be unhappy doing it, then this poor woman must be unhappy as well.”
This is the classic psychology behind leftist guilt. Leftist, “redistribute-the-wealth” types are generally guilt-ridden people who feel they don’t deserve (and, therefore, you and I don’t deserve) to live better than others.
What such leftists fail to consider is the fact that, for many people doing lower level jobs, their life status represents a huge step forward. I used to know a restaurant owner, for example, who hired as kitchen help individuals who immigrated from third- and fourth-world countries. Some of these people grew up in African nations, where the dictatorial rulers had murdered their families or otherwise initiated a reign of terror. Needless to say, there was little or no economic development in their home countries. They were delighted to be working as kitchen help in the United States rather than being hunted down in the streets or terrorized at night because they came from a politically incorrect family. Who knows—maybe if the United States stopped providing foreign aid to some of these dictatorial countries, the leaders would fall and capitalism and rationality (the two things which create wealth and stability) might enjoy half a chance.
Leftist, socialistic types learned absolutely nothing from the fall of socialistic Communism. This media and academic culture consists of the people who write the news stories, the editorials, and the television commentaries which in turn influence our legislators, judges and presidents in government. It consists of: MSNBC, CNN, CBS News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, and so forth.
“How can you justify a tax cut for the rich when so many are suffering in low-level jobs and can’t get beyond them?” Of course, people who ask such questions have no remote grasp of how the economy works. The capacity of anyone to move beyond low-level jobs depends on two basic
factors: (1) their own determination and hard work; and (2) a healthy and vibrant enough economy whereby determination and hard work actually matter and you can, therefore, get somewhere.
Leftists, intellectuals and media types, of course, disregard the fact that there is even such a thing as determination and hard work. In an age where the majority are supposed to have clinical depression or so-called attention deficit disorder, and where post-partum emotions are thought to turn normal mothers into vicious, calculated killers (for an hour, anyway), you have to be pretty daring to suggest that maybe—just maybe—one’s level of determination, conscious choice and deliberate effort have anything to do with success. Nevertheless, they do; and better Americans (those outside of the media, political and intellectual establishment) generally understand this fact, though much less so than used to be the case.
As for the economy, the problem is this: we have a mixed economy. We have many socialistic attributes such as high taxation, hyper-regulation, and income transfer programs like Social Security and Medicare (to name the most well known). At the same time, there are many tax loopholes, and there has been some moderate tax relief over the last thirty years: for example, the Reagan tax cut of 1981, the Clinton-Gingrich capital gains tax cut of the mid-1990s, and the Bush tax cuts (soon to expire) from the early 2000s. However, there have also been significant tax increases (Bush, Sr. in 1990; Clinton in 1993; huge, across-the-board tax increases set to go into effect in January 2013).
A mixed trend likewise prevails in other areas of the economy, such as regulation. The fact that our economy is so mixed creates some confusion. We’re on a contradictory path, back and forth between more socialism on the one side and more capitalism on the other. It’s as if we are both capitalistic and socialistic at the same time. It’s hard to know what to blame, and what to praise.
Since Obama, we have been on a decisively socialist path and if uncorrected, we’ll be a socialist state before long. Romney proposes taking us not toward capitalism, but back to the mixed economy.
Consequently, guilty liberals can look at our mixed economy and say, in effect, that it’s not socialistic enough and we, therefore, need more redistribution of wealth. They call it “investment,” but it still boils down to plain old socialism.
What they don’t ask us to consider is how much better the economy might be—including for those at the bottom— if we put more of the “capital” back in capitalism and radically reduced our government controls, taxes, and all the rest.
Think for a moment about the woman scrubbing the floor of your office building. Or the man cleaning up behind you at the local McDonald’s.
They obviously need and want these jobs—otherwise they would not be doing them.
Where would these people be without the individuals in business who risked and invested the capital needed to build the office building? Or to start up the McDonald’s franchise? If these investors and capitalists disappeared tomorrow, the floor scrubbers and sweepers would struggle horribly and likely die.
This is because the scrubbers and sweepers depend upon the choices and opportunities generated by the semi-capitalist system of profit, incentive, and personal responsibility. Also, in a thriving American economy (one where capital is not encumbered by regulation, taxation and
redistribution) there’s every reason to expect that most of these low level workers will rise economically, if they so desire.
Even as it stands now, with our government-generated boom-bust cycles every few years (exclusively bust in recent times), most of these working poor still manage to rise over time. Consider that black Americans—a race of people brought to this country forcibly, first as slaves and then irrationally discriminated against for decades—have continued to make their way into the middle class over the last thirty years. Because of government programs? No way. Because of the remnants of capitalism still with us (those remnants now under relentless attack by Obama and others.) Leftists insist that wages are too low for working people. They’d like to continually raise the minimum wage, which is tantamount to outlawing jobs for the poorest people in the country. Some help! No doubt you have heard this line: “America deserves a raise.” Why don’t we simply raise the minimum wage to $50,000 a year? There’s no reason in principle to avoid this if leftist logic were applied consistently.
But seriously: If wages are “too low,” then (according to the law of supply and demand), it must mean that there are too few jobs for too many workers. When there’s a shortage of jobs relative to the supply of workers, wages fall; when there’s a surplus of jobs and a shortage of workers, wages rise.
If leftists really cared about the “working poor,” they’d demand more capitalism so more jobs can be created. Instead, they act with indifference and defensiveness to the fact that under Obama’s policies, the economy has essentially stopped growing at all.
Anti-immigrant types, of course, respond to this fact by insisting that we should allow fewer immigrants into the country—even if they want to work and take care of themselves. Leftists, on the other side, insist that instead we tax the rich even more and have more government programs for low-income people. In other words, let’s have the government do for the rest of the American economy what Social Security did to retirement pensions (bankrupted them); what Medicare did to health care (bankrupted hospitals and led to socialized medicine for all, i.e. Obamacare); and what The Great Society did for the poor (create a permanent, dependent underclass of poor, mostly black people in inner cities).
Quite an impressive track record, that government!
Yet this is all modern-day leftists (and even some conservatives) have to offer us. It’s no wonder leftists substitute savage and unfounded personal attacks for reason and facts, because there are no reason and facts to uphold socialism.
As more capital is taken away from the private sector, the number of jobs and other wealth/income-creating opportunities for low-wage workers are correspondingly reduced. Why? Because most rich people (contrary to the vicious stereotypes of business-hating leftists) invest their money into the economy, voluntarily and for selfish reasons.
As a result, the economy as a whole benefits: jobs are created, start-up capital exists for more new companies, and so forth. If we take this money away from the richest and the most productive, there will be that much less left to invest. And, let’s face it, politicians don’t know how to invest it. The results of Communism, socialism and even welfare state programs in our own countries (e.g., Social Security and Medicare always going bankrupt) speak for themselves.
If your heart bleeds for the poor, you should immediately rush out and support the capitalists, investors, stock brokers, CEOs and others who make the jobs for these poor people possible.
If these hated capitalists did not exist, then the woman scrubbing the floor would be out in the street—perhaps (if she’s an immigrant) even returned to her awful country of origin.
Who creates jobs after all? Where does wealth come from? Government? Of course not. Government can create largely make-work jobs in government agencies, but only to the extent that there’s a thriving private sector to tax. The weaker the private sector becomes, the less loot the government has to redistribute (and borrowing cannot go on indefinitely.)
Not that the redistribution is morally right in the first place. It isn’t. This was supposed to be a free country, whereby individuals were totally free from government control—beyond the requirement to not rob, steal, kill, rape or cheat.
There never was supposed to be socialism in this country, nor the semi-socialism we see from the partial redistribution of wealth. There’s nothing in the Constitution which obliges American citizens to give up a third or half of their income to people like Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Nancy Pelosi to redistribute as they feel like.
As the bumper sticker says: “OK, the joke is over…bring back our Constitution!” Leftists simply whine that things are not perfect in a free country. They define “perfect” as perfectly equal.
But it’s utterly impossible for all people to be at the same economic level at any one point in time. It never has been this way and it never will be this way. If a society is free, rational, and productive, then everyone who works will, on the whole, be progressing all the time. The rich will be continually getting richer, and the poor will be continually getting richer.
Because of this ongoing prosperity, new people will join the society, at the bottom, but happily so because for them it represents a step up, and because they have every reason to believe that they (or at least their
children) can and will significantly advance in such a society.
Guilt-ridden leftists like Obama’s fervent supporters freeze a moment in time, and point to the fact that inequalities exist as proof that the society is a vicious and heartless one. They completely ignore that it’s only a moment in time, and that most of these poor people will go up the economic ladder in their lifetimes—at least 1) if they want to, and 2) if the capitalistic economy remains free (definitely not the case as of 2012).
Leftists completely ignore the fact that these poor would not even be as well off as they are if not for the efforts and risk-taking of capitalists in business and technology—people who flourish only under a system of individual freedom, and without whom there would be no jobs to complain about in the first place!
In a family context, an abuser evades basic facts so as to encourage vulnerable others (generally children) to feel guilty, low, and terrible about themselves. Usually, the motive is to make oneself feel superior.
This is what animates many of the leftists who seek to impose ever-more socialism on their victims.
Leftist guilt is toxic and dangerous to a society, just as abusiveness is to a relationship or family. It’s ironic that Obama may be saved in his reelection effort, despite obviously failed policies, by his “personal popularity.” People like him, polls suggest.
If true, leftist guilt has done its job. America has created its own destroyers, and those who ask for it—sadly, not the rest of us—will deserve whatever is coming.