The recent cries of inequality, led by President Obama and the newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, should alarm all Americans. Why? Because those cries come from Pied Pipers who either misunderstand or reject the philosophical and economic ideas that birthed America and moved her forward.
My guess is that the president, de Blasio, and other progressives who are pounding the inequality drum understand perfectly America’s economic system and cultural values. Their problem is they don’t prefer them and are working hard to make sure they are altered.
Americans are either too busy or too dismissive of politics to see that so many of our liberties are sliding away (privacy concerns, Obamacare, excessive regulations), all because of the transformers.
I admire people who stay busy making a living, but citizens must start paying attention to our laws and to the people who make them. Dismissing events of the day as just “politics” that we’re not interested in means we don’t care who runs the show. From the tortoise to the elephant, there are no creatures in the wild that aren’t constantly aware of the dangers lurking around them. Would that this were true of free peoples. More than ever we need to heed Jefferson’s warning that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Those who would transform America cannot accept that inequality is the natural result of individual liberty. Certainly it is the inevitable end of economic free enterprise. More fundamentally, it is man’s natural, social state.
Not to trivialize the matter with so personal an example, but the inequality between my wife and me is astounding. She is both an effective organizer and a kind administrator. She could run the world, but I, the reluctant leader, can still do more push-ups than she can, and can describe historical battles she never heard of (though there’s very little money in that). We are gloriously unequal, or as freedom lover George Orwell might put it, she is more equal than I am.
How did we ever so mightily corrupt the Jeffersonian ideal of equality? Rather than advance it, the transformers would turn it on its head, stripping it of its glory and reducing it to a pabulum-like sameness or conformity.
Yes, “all men are created equal.” So were my four children, but how delightfully unequal they are in so many ways: talents, personality, stature, and giftedness.
The president’s solution for our inequality, of course, is redistribution. But you can’t redistribute talent, character, interests, skills or motivation. Wealth you can indeed redistribute, and many a tyrannical government has done so.
But what has been the result of redistribution? It has and always will be the chilling of the entrepreneurial spirit, the stymieing of achievement, and the death of individual initiative. If the goose is laying golden eggs, you don’t hinder the goose because other geese can’t do the same thing. Neither do you kill the goose’s desire to lay the eggs. Geese aren’t equal either.
Yet America’s New Socialists are revving up their plans to make us equal. Why Republican members of Congress are not pre-emptively bellowing forth like a Patrick Henry is beyond me.
Specifically, the president’s mission is to attack income inequality. He will solve it by requiring the rich to give to the poor. Emboldened by Mayor de Blasio, the president wants to spread the wealth, but no amount of wealth-shifting will fix the major cause of poverty, which is the breakdown of the family.
In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed article, Ari Fleischer, former President George W. Bush’s press secretary, argued breakdown of the family should be the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t. Fleischer points out in 2012 among families headed by two married parents, just 7.5 percent lived in poverty. Among families headed by a single mother, the poverty level jumped to 33.9 percent. Fleischer concludes that the $21 trillion spent on welfare programs since the 1964 War on Poverty began has not checked poverty. Social behavior has intensified it.
Economics is often called “the dismal science,” meaning it can be boring. Boring it can be, but complex it really isn’t. What’s complex is why our president is taking the Robin Hood approach, given its past record.
Fleischer’s solution for income equality is simple and reasonable: stay in school, get married, and have children — in that order.
If only we could hear these words again from both pulpits and politicians.
Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.