The Bible says, Thou shall not steal.
Yet stealingin the sense of robbing Peter to give to Paulis what every government in the world does, on a daily basis. They have been doing it for a very long time.
H. L. Mencken once said that elections are an advance auction on the sale of stolen goods. Watching the tax-and-spend circus on Capitol Hill right now brings Mencken to mind.
Have you ever seen a good argument for stealing? I dont mean taking property that isnt yours to save a life in an emergency. Im talking about ordinary, garden-variety theft.
If you havent seen a good argument thats because government theft is so fully ingrained in our way of life that no one thinks a justification is needed.
One consistent advocate for theft on a grand scale is Paul Krugman, editorial writer for the New York Times. Krugman, for example, thinks the government should take as much as 90 percent of the income of LeBron James.
And thats only because he judges the revenue-maximizing tax rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent. If he could be confident that Lebron would keep on playing basketball regardless, it appears Krugman would like to see the government take every penny he earns.
Slaves on southern plantations in the rural south got to consume a much greater portion of their product than Krugman would leave for James. So, what did James do to deserve this fate? Hes good at what he does. Thats it? Thats it.
Krugman cites Teddy Roosevelt approvingly for the view that it is good in principle to tax the wealthy, even if nothing useful is done with the money.
Like a stereotypical villain in an Ayn Rand novel, Krugman seems to hate achievement as such. The successful should be punished precisely because they are successful. The productive should be penalized because they are productive. The good should be made to suffer precisely because they are good.
Krugman claims his view of progressive taxation is as American as apple pie. He couldnt be more wrong.
The Declaration of Independence declares that we each have an unalienable right to pursue our own happiness. There is no ambiguity in that statement. Making Peter less happy so that Paul can be more happy is a violation of fundamental rights per se.
The founding fathers were not against taxation, even progressive taxation. But as the Constitution makes clear, the governments role is to promote the general welfare. So, taxes to pay for a road, a bridge, or a dam would be legit if the project benefited people generally. Revenue measures that took more from the rich than the poor would make sense if the rich expected more benefits from the project.
But none of the founders thought it was permissible to rob Peter for the benefit of Paul for no other reason than the fact that Paul has more votes.
In his latest apology for government theft, Krugman says we should Tax the Rich [to] Help Americas Children. Since this line is likely to be repeated often on the left, lets pause to focus on two things the catchphrase overlooks: (1) the tendency for taxes on the rich to trickle down to others, and (2) the tendency for programs designed for children (who dont vote) to morph into job programs for adults (who do vote).
When the federal income tax was first created, its target was the top 1 percent. Yet in no time at all, ordinary citizens were swept up in its web. The tax on Social Security benefits initially applied only to high-income seniors. But since the parameters were not indexed, that tax is moving down the income ladderyear by yearto reach every retiree eventually. Joe Bidens proposed payroll tax would initially apply only to couples earning $400,000 or more. But lack of indexing means the tax will eventually apply to everyone, regardless of income.
These are not oversights of the tax-writing committees in Congress. The left really believes in trickle-down taxation.
What it doesnt believe in is empowering parents with children. Economics teaches that family utility is maximized when the family controls the money spent on its behalf; and common sense tells us that parents care more about their children than strangers who dont even know them.
But the congressional Democrats are unmoved by economics or common sense. Concerning their plan for child care, John Cochran writes:
It stipulates that childcare workers must be paid at least as much as elementary school teachers ($63,930), rather than the current average ($25,510). Providers must be licensed. Families pay a fixed and rising fraction of family income. If families earn more money, benefits are reduced. If a couple marries, they pay a higher rate, based on combined income.
In other words, the proposal is anti-marriage and anti-work, in addition to being wasteful. And considering what a poor job the public schools do with low-income children in Democratic-run cities, its probably anti-child as well.
I might be inclined to cut Krugman some slack if there was the slightest evidence that he really cares about children. There isnt.
In the news section of the Times, there have been many articles through the years on the plight of poor children in New York Citytrapped in bad schools with bad teachers and given no hope of escape by politicians who do the bidding of the teachers unions. Yet these facts are routinely ignored on the editorial page.
You would be hard-pressed to find a single Krugman column that expresses any sympathy at all for these kids.
Krugman is not a lover. He is a hater. And that is true for a great many others on the left.