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One of the legacies of the Clinton-Gore administration will be its
success in perfecting the political art of divide and conquer. No
political organization in the history of our republic has done a more
masterful job of fueling the flames of old feuds and kindling new ones.
Americans are actively at each other’s throats, women against men, the
secular against the religious, the young against the old, and minorities
against everybody, including themselves.
Clinton and Gore must be credited with inventing new ways of
disconnecting Americans from each other. They have discovered a new
class of Americans: “real Americans,” as distinguished, we suppose, from
“unreal Americans.” No matter. Whoever they are, Gore and Clinton will
soon have them fighting in the streets, while, above the fray, these two
demagogues pontificate about “unity” and “the healing process.”
They have even rolled out the old Marxian tactic of inciting class
warfare between the rich and the poor, and between workers and those who
Class warfare in America is promoted by government opportunists for a
reason. It casts government as the instrument of “fairness,” taking from
the greedy rich and giving to the deserving poor. America is on a
dangerous path when good people who would not even think of forcing
someone else to give them money happily and self-righteously allow the
government to do it for them.
The failures of socialist and communist societies should have taught
us that altruism is a poor engine for driving an economy; it soon runs
out of gas. People will work 12 hours and more a day in their own
self-interest. They will not, on a sustained basis, do this in someone
else’s interest. The socialist state requires greater and greater
degrees of force to make it function.
If resources and wealth are allocated on the basis of need rather
than production, people will compete to be more needy rather than more
productive. Inevitably and predictably, the size of the economic pie
decreases, and clamoring groups of “gimmies” fight over what is left, as
government strives for an equal distribution of misery.
At the heart of class warfare is the pernicious belief that the size
of the economic pie is fixed; that when one person gets rich, it is
necessarily at the expense of someone else. Lost in the passion of greed
and envy is the understanding that the size of the pie may be increased
through investment and growth. When a new company forms around a new
product, the entrepreneur who increases the size of the pie is lucky if
he retains 1 percent of the new wealth he creates. The rest of it goes
to employee wages and benefits, taxes, insurance companies, suppliers of
raw materials and parts, and other expenses.
Even though taxes are at the highest level since World War II, there
is not much of a clamor to cut them. The reason is that the constituency
for more and higher taxes grows with each passing day as the burden of
taxes is shifted to others.
According to data provided by the Internal Revenue Service, the share
of total income taxes paid by the top 1 percent of taxpayers rose from
19.05 percent in 1980 to 33.17 percent in 1997. The share of income
taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers is now down to 5
percent. According to the Congressional Budget office, the bottom 20
percent of taxpayers currently have an effective tax rate of minus 6.8
percent, which means they not only don’t pay taxes, they receive money
paid by others.
The perilous rupture in American society is between those who are
burdened by high taxes and those who benefit from them. The number of
Americans whose self-interests are served by high and higher taxes is
dramatically increasing, and includes the following: government
employees and their union bosses whose jobs, pensions and pay increases
depend on taxes; socialists who understand that taxes fuel bigger and
more controlling government; organizations such as the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American
Association of Retired Persons and Planned Parenthood, which are
parasitically attached to the public treasury; guilt-ridden social
advocates who are trying to win spiritual points by giving away someone
else’s money; politicians who need a big bankroll with which to buy
votes and reward friends; and finally, the overlords of the welfare
state and the recipients of handouts who have come to love them.
Linda Bowles has just published a book, “The Remnant,” a prophetic
fable illustrated by Johnny Hart, the creator of the comic strips B.C.
and The Wizard of Id.