Day: November 1, 2017

George Washington Taken from the Heights


By Jove, by Jing, by George is the thing!  Can we say it isn’t so?  We thought we knew Washington.  As the proverb says, a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.  It’s taken some time for the truth to be revealed, though no doubt a special counsel searching for less in good names would have taken even longer to find out whether, among other things, the father of the United States was in collusion with the Russians.  But finally he has been unmasked. 

The result of the discovery is that a stone plaque that reads “in memory of George Washington,” presently on the left side of the altar at the Episcopal Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, is being taken down.  Washington helped found the church, attended the church for more than 20 years, and bought a pew in 1773 when the Church opened.  He would have mixed feelings that a similar plaque erected at same time in 1870, placed on the right side of the altar, honoring General Robert E. Lee, will also be removed.  Left and right in the church are said to balance each other and illustrate equal erasing of the history of the two warriors.

General Lee was a regular attendee of the church since infancy, and his daughter left it $10,000 in her will, a significant part of its endowment.  As if in automatic response, the church’s decision came after the violent rally in Charlottesville over the statue of Lee, and the consequent ongoing debate, physical and political, over the symbols of the Confederacy, the legacy of slavery, and the disenfranchisement of people of color.

Poor Robert E. Lee is now the point man, the national target of the pious and the irreverent alike.  Statues of him in a number of Southern cities have him a-moldering in his grave.  A church in Washington has changed its name from R.E. Lee to Greek Episcopal Church, and the Washington National Cathedral has removed a stained glass window with the image of Lee lest it affect the sight and the souls of worshipers.

Obviously, more surprising than the erasing of Lee was the decision to remove all traces of Washington, which, according to the rector of the church, Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, was made by a unanimous vote of the vestry.  The given reason is that the plaques may make some visitors feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and the congregation bravely if incomprehensibly feels there is a strong need for the church to stand clearly on the side of “all are welcome, no exceptions.”  Even with a “strong need,” it requires a strong secular imagination to see how the plaques create a disturbance in the church or pose an obstacle to its identity and reputation as a “welcoming church.”

Everyone knows that Washington did not fight for the Confederacy or for slavery, but he did own slaves.  Indeed, he became a slave-owner at age 11 after his father died and left him ten slaves and the large 280-acre family farm.  During his life, he bought more slaves, housed at Mount Vernon, as well as acquiring some more owned by his wife’s first husband, who had left them to her after he died without a will.  Two hundred fifty years later, the pious in Virginia are disquieted by the memory.

One can only commiserate with the parishioners at Christ Church, who are facing certain problems.  One is their inability to resort to a compromise proposed elsewhere regarding the removal of monuments: that they be replaced with information about the context regarding the actions of the individual being removed.  The church leaders said their place is one of worship, not a museum, and there is no appropriate way to inform visitors about the history of the plaques.  Far more important and immediate is the practical dilemma: will the church accept donations of $1 bills with the face of the unacceptable Washington?

We know that George was not alone in his alleged transgressions.  In all, twelve United States presidents owned slaves, the last being Ulysses S. Grant, who, in fact, freed his only known slave in 1859, though he managed his father-in-law’s large plantation in Missouri.  Can we soon expect the citizens of the Upper West Side of New York City to demand the removal of Grant from Grant’s tomb in Manhattan?

Other presidents are being disowned.  In 2015, State Democratic parties in Iowa, Georgia, Connecticut, and Missouri renamed their annual Jackson and Jefferson fundraising dinners.  In view of the success of the musical Hamilton, it is unlikely that this majestic heroic figure will be dishonored, though his story is ambiguous.  The author, Ron Chernow, on whose biography the Broadway musical is based, believes that Hamilton may have owned two household slaves and negotiated the sale of slaves.  Success on Broadway is more meaningful than rhetorical consistency.  Equally ambiguous is the case of James Madison, who viewed slavery as a dreadful calamity and a “blot on our free country, that should be erased” but owned about 100 slaves.  No doubt the James Madison Program at Princeton University will prevent his elimination.

One president who did not own slaves was Abraham Lincoln, who came from Illinois, which was a “free state” in which residents could not own slaves.  Though Honest Abe early in his career thought colonialization was the solution, so that blacks should be settled in Africa and Central America, he changed his mind and is an honored historical figure with his issuing of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862.  He proclaimed that all slaves in states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Surely, if one president is to remain universally honored, it should be Honest Abe.  But his statue was threatened in 2016 and remains threatened at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by a group of Native American students calling for authorities to “decolonize our campus.”  Identity politics has run riot there as elsewhere, purportedly seeking redress in the present for grievances of the past.  Political and cultural wars continue.

The reason for the campaign against Lincoln is that in 1862, after a rebellion concerning money that had been promised to them but never delivered, the local Sioux Dakota Indians rebelled and killed more than 400 settlers.  They were defeated, and 300 were sentenced to death for crimes against civilians.  Lincoln, who needed peace in the area while the Civil War raged, pardoned most of them, but 38 were executed. 

One of the great Americans, James Madison, warned that factions are sown into the nature of humans.  It is high time that public officials, educators, and Supreme Court judges help emancipate those factions from the erasing of American history.

By Jove, by Jing, by George is the thing!  Can we say it isn’t so?  We thought we knew Washington.  As the proverb says, a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.  It’s taken some time for the truth to be revealed, though no doubt a special counsel searching for less in good names would have taken even longer to find out whether, among other things, the father of the United States was in collusion with the Russians.  But finally he has been unmasked. 

The result of the discovery is that a stone plaque that reads “in memory of George Washington,” presently on the left side of the altar at the Episcopal Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, is being taken down.  Washington helped found the church, attended the church for more than 20 years, and bought a pew in 1773 when the Church opened.  He would have mixed feelings that a similar plaque erected at same time in 1870, placed on the right side of the altar, honoring General Robert E. Lee, will also be removed.  Left and right in the church are said to balance each other and illustrate equal erasing of the history of the two warriors.

General Lee was a regular attendee of the church since infancy, and his daughter left it $10,000 in her will, a significant part of its endowment.  As if in automatic response, the church’s decision came after the violent rally in Charlottesville over the statue of Lee, and the consequent ongoing debate, physical and political, over the symbols of the Confederacy, the legacy of slavery, and the disenfranchisement of people of color.

Poor Robert E. Lee is now the point man, the national target of the pious and the irreverent alike.  Statues of him in a number of Southern cities have him a-moldering in his grave.  A church in Washington has changed its name from R.E. Lee to Greek Episcopal Church, and the Washington National Cathedral has removed a stained glass window with the image of Lee lest it affect the sight and the souls of worshipers.

Obviously, more surprising than the erasing of Lee was the decision to remove all traces of Washington, which, according to the rector of the church, Rev. Noelle York-Simmons, was made by a unanimous vote of the vestry.  The given reason is that the plaques may make some visitors feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and the congregation bravely if incomprehensibly feels there is a strong need for the church to stand clearly on the side of “all are welcome, no exceptions.”  Even with a “strong need,” it requires a strong secular imagination to see how the plaques create a disturbance in the church or pose an obstacle to its identity and reputation as a “welcoming church.”

Everyone knows that Washington did not fight for the Confederacy or for slavery, but he did own slaves.  Indeed, he became a slave-owner at age 11 after his father died and left him ten slaves and the large 280-acre family farm.  During his life, he bought more slaves, housed at Mount Vernon, as well as acquiring some more owned by his wife’s first husband, who had left them to her after he died without a will.  Two hundred fifty years later, the pious in Virginia are disquieted by the memory.

One can only commiserate with the parishioners at Christ Church, who are facing certain problems.  One is their inability to resort to a compromise proposed elsewhere regarding the removal of monuments: that they be replaced with information about the context regarding the actions of the individual being removed.  The church leaders said their place is one of worship, not a museum, and there is no appropriate way to inform visitors about the history of the plaques.  Far more important and immediate is the practical dilemma: will the church accept donations of $1 bills with the face of the unacceptable Washington?

We know that George was not alone in his alleged transgressions.  In all, twelve United States presidents owned slaves, the last being Ulysses S. Grant, who, in fact, freed his only known slave in 1859, though he managed his father-in-law’s large plantation in Missouri.  Can we soon expect the citizens of the Upper West Side of New York City to demand the removal of Grant from Grant’s tomb in Manhattan?

Other presidents are being disowned.  In 2015, State Democratic parties in Iowa, Georgia, Connecticut, and Missouri renamed their annual Jackson and Jefferson fundraising dinners.  In view of the success of the musical Hamilton, it is unlikely that this majestic heroic figure will be dishonored, though his story is ambiguous.  The author, Ron Chernow, on whose biography the Broadway musical is based, believes that Hamilton may have owned two household slaves and negotiated the sale of slaves.  Success on Broadway is more meaningful than rhetorical consistency.  Equally ambiguous is the case of James Madison, who viewed slavery as a dreadful calamity and a “blot on our free country, that should be erased” but owned about 100 slaves.  No doubt the James Madison Program at Princeton University will prevent his elimination.

One president who did not own slaves was Abraham Lincoln, who came from Illinois, which was a “free state” in which residents could not own slaves.  Though Honest Abe early in his career thought colonialization was the solution, so that blacks should be settled in Africa and Central America, he changed his mind and is an honored historical figure with his issuing of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862.  He proclaimed that all slaves in states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Surely, if one president is to remain universally honored, it should be Honest Abe.  But his statue was threatened in 2016 and remains threatened at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by a group of Native American students calling for authorities to “decolonize our campus.”  Identity politics has run riot there as elsewhere, purportedly seeking redress in the present for grievances of the past.  Political and cultural wars continue.

The reason for the campaign against Lincoln is that in 1862, after a rebellion concerning money that had been promised to them but never delivered, the local Sioux Dakota Indians rebelled and killed more than 400 settlers.  They were defeated, and 300 were sentenced to death for crimes against civilians.  Lincoln, who needed peace in the area while the Civil War raged, pardoned most of them, but 38 were executed. 

One of the great Americans, James Madison, warned that factions are sown into the nature of humans.  It is high time that public officials, educators, and Supreme Court judges help emancipate those factions from the erasing of American history.



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Replacing the Ideological Spectrum


Most of the problems conservatives and other normal people have in understanding the language of modern politics comes from the idea that political beliefs can be defined by an ideological spectrum, a geometrical model that requires all conservatives as somehow clumped together in a narrow region of a flat two-dimensional line.

This means that the atheistic followers of Ayn Rand and devout Baptists hold the same opinions and that Hassidic Jews and religiously serious Catholics have the same catechism and that libertarians and pro-life folks have the same values.  Such analysis is totalitarian because it ignores the reality that anti-totalitarians, conservatives, are all one, just as totalitarians are all one.

Anti-totalitarians do not crowd together along some notional section of an imaginary ideological spectrum.  Rather, they live largely apolitical lives.  Any attempt to confine these people into some place along the dull and meaningless “ideological spectrum” is surreal nonsense, except for those persuaded into accepting this geometrical farce.

We find the same thing in the language used to describe politics – language invented by totalitarians as enemies of liberty.  So “liberal,” meaning freedom, is used by those who oppose liberty, and “progressive” is used by those wedded to the status quo, and “radical” is used by those who are, in fact, reactionary.  Words like “capitalism,” created by Marxists, mean nothing at all. 

The farcical “ideological spectrum” is more dangerous than those Orwellian mutilations of language because this linear description of politics has actually been adopted as real by so many anti-totalitarians.  As a consequence, many of these foes of Marxists, Nazis, and other flavors of totalitarianism lack the cognitive tools to resist the rhetoric of the enemies of decency, honesty, freedom, and hope. 

In fact, there is no reason at all to believe that ideology can be confined to a narrow line or can be defined by geometrical models.  The “ideological spectrum” is the malignant invention of totalitarians.  Go back to the early days of the American Republic, and this “ideological spectrum” means something only if one accepts the silly arguments of Marxists, and once one accepts Marxist ways of thinking, the power to resist them is dramatically reduced. 

But if someone must have geometry to describe ideology, then there is a superior way to do it.  Totalitarians are crowded together by infinite compression into a black hole, a place from which there is no hope of escape.  In that black hole are Marxists, Nazis, and all the other allies against individuality and morality who have so easily changed colors over the years.  This explains why Marxists in and out of Germany so eagerly supported Nazism in the eight years from 1933 to 1941 and why Nazis were so genuinely welcomed into prominent roles in the Warsaw Pact nations after 1945.  It also explains why feminists are so reluctant to condemn radical Islam, another incarnation of totalitarianism, and why these same feminists are so vehement in their condemnation of Christianity, the best ally of women in human history.

I have called all these totalitarians simply “Sinisterists,” all members of 1984‘s Inner Party and all hopelessly addicted to the incoherent prattling of whatever that Inner Party proposes as “history” and “truth” on any particular morning.  These Sinisterists have no life except as cogs in that Inner Party and no values except what that Inner Party commands.

What about normal people who care about truth, decency, and morality?  Consider these people as points scattered in all directions outside the event horizon of the black hole.  They are connected only in their opposition to totalitarianism.  Some belief in the God of Jews and Christians, and some are atheists.  Some value the acquisition of wealth, and some treasure the beauty of nature.  Some love to live in large cities, and some want to live on farms or in small towns.  Some devote their lives to study, and some live largely to play.  There is no description that fits these people at all except that they oppose the horror of Sinisterism. 

We can defeat totalitarianism only when we begin to reject the terms and the models created by totalitarians.  If these folks tomorrow began to loudly protest the legitimacy of the ideological spectrum, political arguments would change forever.  If anti-totalitarians continue to use the language and models created by their enemies, then the long descent we have witnessed over the last century into the Hell of totalitarianism will inevitably continue.

Most of the problems conservatives and other normal people have in understanding the language of modern politics comes from the idea that political beliefs can be defined by an ideological spectrum, a geometrical model that requires all conservatives as somehow clumped together in a narrow region of a flat two-dimensional line.

This means that the atheistic followers of Ayn Rand and devout Baptists hold the same opinions and that Hassidic Jews and religiously serious Catholics have the same catechism and that libertarians and pro-life folks have the same values.  Such analysis is totalitarian because it ignores the reality that anti-totalitarians, conservatives, are all one, just as totalitarians are all one.

Anti-totalitarians do not crowd together along some notional section of an imaginary ideological spectrum.  Rather, they live largely apolitical lives.  Any attempt to confine these people into some place along the dull and meaningless “ideological spectrum” is surreal nonsense, except for those persuaded into accepting this geometrical farce.

We find the same thing in the language used to describe politics – language invented by totalitarians as enemies of liberty.  So “liberal,” meaning freedom, is used by those who oppose liberty, and “progressive” is used by those wedded to the status quo, and “radical” is used by those who are, in fact, reactionary.  Words like “capitalism,” created by Marxists, mean nothing at all. 

The farcical “ideological spectrum” is more dangerous than those Orwellian mutilations of language because this linear description of politics has actually been adopted as real by so many anti-totalitarians.  As a consequence, many of these foes of Marxists, Nazis, and other flavors of totalitarianism lack the cognitive tools to resist the rhetoric of the enemies of decency, honesty, freedom, and hope. 

In fact, there is no reason at all to believe that ideology can be confined to a narrow line or can be defined by geometrical models.  The “ideological spectrum” is the malignant invention of totalitarians.  Go back to the early days of the American Republic, and this “ideological spectrum” means something only if one accepts the silly arguments of Marxists, and once one accepts Marxist ways of thinking, the power to resist them is dramatically reduced. 

But if someone must have geometry to describe ideology, then there is a superior way to do it.  Totalitarians are crowded together by infinite compression into a black hole, a place from which there is no hope of escape.  In that black hole are Marxists, Nazis, and all the other allies against individuality and morality who have so easily changed colors over the years.  This explains why Marxists in and out of Germany so eagerly supported Nazism in the eight years from 1933 to 1941 and why Nazis were so genuinely welcomed into prominent roles in the Warsaw Pact nations after 1945.  It also explains why feminists are so reluctant to condemn radical Islam, another incarnation of totalitarianism, and why these same feminists are so vehement in their condemnation of Christianity, the best ally of women in human history.

I have called all these totalitarians simply “Sinisterists,” all members of 1984‘s Inner Party and all hopelessly addicted to the incoherent prattling of whatever that Inner Party proposes as “history” and “truth” on any particular morning.  These Sinisterists have no life except as cogs in that Inner Party and no values except what that Inner Party commands.

What about normal people who care about truth, decency, and morality?  Consider these people as points scattered in all directions outside the event horizon of the black hole.  They are connected only in their opposition to totalitarianism.  Some belief in the God of Jews and Christians, and some are atheists.  Some value the acquisition of wealth, and some treasure the beauty of nature.  Some love to live in large cities, and some want to live on farms or in small towns.  Some devote their lives to study, and some live largely to play.  There is no description that fits these people at all except that they oppose the horror of Sinisterism. 

We can defeat totalitarianism only when we begin to reject the terms and the models created by totalitarians.  If these folks tomorrow began to loudly protest the legitimacy of the ideological spectrum, political arguments would change forever.  If anti-totalitarians continue to use the language and models created by their enemies, then the long descent we have witnessed over the last century into the Hell of totalitarianism will inevitably continue.



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To Soak the Rich, Cut Their Taxes


Like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, the establishment appears to be wimping out with rumors of a 5-year phase-in of corporate tax cuts and an extra tax bracket for those making a million or more. There are demands that the trillions parked overseas be “invested” back in the economy, whatever that means, rather than, say, be used to buy back stock. Some RINOs like Sen. Collins, want to keep the death tax.

Our economic heart needs a jolt. It needs a defibrillator set to maximum when the timid are suggesting a cup of caffeine. As the saying goes, go big or go home. Those concerned with ballooning the deficit were largely silent as President Obama doubled the national debt. If you are conserved about ballooning the deficit, then cut some spending, geniuses. And if any of the rich feel they are undertaxed, well, they can write a check to the Treasury any time they feel like it.

We forget the lesson of the luxury tax. Designed to make the rich pay their “fair share,”, it aimed at the rich and hit the working class right between the eyes. The luxury tax was a 10% tax imposed in 1991 on cars valued above $30,000, boats above $100,000, jewelry and furs above $10,000 and private planes above $250,000.

Diehard class warriors like Ted Kennedy and then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell crowed publicly about how the rich would finally be paying their “fair share.” But it wasn’t the rich, but Joe Sixpack that suffered.

Boat building, a key industry in Messrs. Mitchell and Kennedy’s home states of Maine and Massachusetts, was particularly hard hit. Yacht retailers reported a 77% drop in sales that year, while boat builders estimated layoffs at 25,000.

When you tax something, you get less of it, particularly when you’re talking about economic activity. Corporations in fact do not pay taxes, but pass on money to the government that comes from higher prices for their goods and services, lower wages, and benefits for fewer workers, and lower dividends to their stockholder and investors.

Even if corporations used repatriated money to just buy back their stock, the money still changes hands and that is called economic activity which, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing. Those selling the stock will put the money to good taxpaying uses even if it is just to buy those luxury boats and cars. There is no such thing as the unproductive use of money in the private sector. Government picked Solyndra. The private sector picked the iPhone.

President John F. Kennedy was right when he said in 1962: “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”

President Kennedy knew that punishing employers really punishes employees. As the late former vice-presidential candidate and congressman Jack Kemp observed, “It’s difficult to argue you are for working men and women when your policies prevent them from working by destroying the businesses that would employ them.” As Kemp wrote in the New York Times in 1996, the historical record shows that tax cuts always increase revenues and growth:

Three times in this century the United States has significantly reduced the top marginal income tax rates. In the 1920’s the top rate was lowered from 73 percent to 25 percent. Between 1921 to 1928, tax revenues rose from $719 million to $1.16 billion, an increase of over 60 percent. President Kennedy’s tax cuts between 1963 and 1965 lowered the top rate from 91 percent to 70 percent. Over that period, revenues increased more than 16 percent.


In the 1980’s, taxes were lowered from a top marginal rate of 70 percent to 28 percent. By the end of the decade, America’s real gross domestic product surged by 32 percent and revenues grew by nearly 40 percent. True, nominal budget deficits were higher at the end of the Reagan era. But as a percentage of the gross domestic product, the deficit actually diminished during the 1980’s.

Critics of Reagan’s tax cuts forget that much of the higher deficit was due to rebuilding a military decimated by Jimmy Carter and defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Considering that and the liberation of Eastern Europe, it was a bargain.

As for the estate or death tax, it is less a revenue source than the final act of class warfare. Nobody, it is said, should be forced to visit the undertaker and tax collector on the same day. The death tax is double taxation and just because you can’t take it with you doesn’t mean the government should take it from you or your heirs.

It takes capital out of the cold, dead hands of entrepreneurs and puts it into the unproductive hands of government. Heritage Foundation economists once estimated that the federal estate tax alone is responsible for the loss of between 170,000 and 250,000 potential jobs each year. These numbers do not appear in employment statistics because the investments that would have created these jobs are never made.

People should not be punished because they work hard, become successful, and want to pass on the fruits of their labor, or even their ancestors’ labor, to their children We doubt that those who said give us liberty or give us death meant death to be a taxable event.   

It was John F. Kennedy who famously said that a rising tide raises all boats and, yes, those boats include yachts that “rich” people own. I prefer the word “successful” over “rich” and it is remembering even those yachts are built by workers who have homes and families and mortgages. Don’t punish the rich or corporations. No one ever got a job from a poor person. As Jack Kemp wrote in a TownHall.com column:

If you want to soak the rich, cut tax rates. As secretary of Housing and Urban Development, I spent a lot of time talking to people who lived in public housing. I never heard one person say they want to make the rich poor; they only want the opportunity to get ahead and get out of poverty. High tax rates don’t hurt the rich, who can shelter their income; high tax rates just keep the poor in poverty.

You can’t get rich on wages. The only way to get rich is to earn, save and invest.

A British wag once asked how we Americans enjoyed taxation with representation. This country was born with a revolt against unjust taxation. It can be reborn the same way.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.        

Like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, the establishment appears to be wimping out with rumors of a 5-year phase-in of corporate tax cuts and an extra tax bracket for those making a million or more. There are demands that the trillions parked overseas be “invested” back in the economy, whatever that means, rather than, say, be used to buy back stock. Some RINOs like Sen. Collins, want to keep the death tax.

Our economic heart needs a jolt. It needs a defibrillator set to maximum when the timid are suggesting a cup of caffeine. As the saying goes, go big or go home. Those concerned with ballooning the deficit were largely silent as President Obama doubled the national debt. If you are conserved about ballooning the deficit, then cut some spending, geniuses. And if any of the rich feel they are undertaxed, well, they can write a check to the Treasury any time they feel like it.

We forget the lesson of the luxury tax. Designed to make the rich pay their “fair share,”, it aimed at the rich and hit the working class right between the eyes. The luxury tax was a 10% tax imposed in 1991 on cars valued above $30,000, boats above $100,000, jewelry and furs above $10,000 and private planes above $250,000.

Diehard class warriors like Ted Kennedy and then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell crowed publicly about how the rich would finally be paying their “fair share.” But it wasn’t the rich, but Joe Sixpack that suffered.

Boat building, a key industry in Messrs. Mitchell and Kennedy’s home states of Maine and Massachusetts, was particularly hard hit. Yacht retailers reported a 77% drop in sales that year, while boat builders estimated layoffs at 25,000.

When you tax something, you get less of it, particularly when you’re talking about economic activity. Corporations in fact do not pay taxes, but pass on money to the government that comes from higher prices for their goods and services, lower wages, and benefits for fewer workers, and lower dividends to their stockholder and investors.

Even if corporations used repatriated money to just buy back their stock, the money still changes hands and that is called economic activity which, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing. Those selling the stock will put the money to good taxpaying uses even if it is just to buy those luxury boats and cars. There is no such thing as the unproductive use of money in the private sector. Government picked Solyndra. The private sector picked the iPhone.

President John F. Kennedy was right when he said in 1962: “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”

President Kennedy knew that punishing employers really punishes employees. As the late former vice-presidential candidate and congressman Jack Kemp observed, “It’s difficult to argue you are for working men and women when your policies prevent them from working by destroying the businesses that would employ them.” As Kemp wrote in the New York Times in 1996, the historical record shows that tax cuts always increase revenues and growth:

Three times in this century the United States has significantly reduced the top marginal income tax rates. In the 1920’s the top rate was lowered from 73 percent to 25 percent. Between 1921 to 1928, tax revenues rose from $719 million to $1.16 billion, an increase of over 60 percent. President Kennedy’s tax cuts between 1963 and 1965 lowered the top rate from 91 percent to 70 percent. Over that period, revenues increased more than 16 percent.


In the 1980’s, taxes were lowered from a top marginal rate of 70 percent to 28 percent. By the end of the decade, America’s real gross domestic product surged by 32 percent and revenues grew by nearly 40 percent. True, nominal budget deficits were higher at the end of the Reagan era. But as a percentage of the gross domestic product, the deficit actually diminished during the 1980’s.

Critics of Reagan’s tax cuts forget that much of the higher deficit was due to rebuilding a military decimated by Jimmy Carter and defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Considering that and the liberation of Eastern Europe, it was a bargain.

As for the estate or death tax, it is less a revenue source than the final act of class warfare. Nobody, it is said, should be forced to visit the undertaker and tax collector on the same day. The death tax is double taxation and just because you can’t take it with you doesn’t mean the government should take it from you or your heirs.

It takes capital out of the cold, dead hands of entrepreneurs and puts it into the unproductive hands of government. Heritage Foundation economists once estimated that the federal estate tax alone is responsible for the loss of between 170,000 and 250,000 potential jobs each year. These numbers do not appear in employment statistics because the investments that would have created these jobs are never made.

People should not be punished because they work hard, become successful, and want to pass on the fruits of their labor, or even their ancestors’ labor, to their children We doubt that those who said give us liberty or give us death meant death to be a taxable event.   

It was John F. Kennedy who famously said that a rising tide raises all boats and, yes, those boats include yachts that “rich” people own. I prefer the word “successful” over “rich” and it is remembering even those yachts are built by workers who have homes and families and mortgages. Don’t punish the rich or corporations. No one ever got a job from a poor person. As Jack Kemp wrote in a TownHall.com column:

If you want to soak the rich, cut tax rates. As secretary of Housing and Urban Development, I spent a lot of time talking to people who lived in public housing. I never heard one person say they want to make the rich poor; they only want the opportunity to get ahead and get out of poverty. High tax rates don’t hurt the rich, who can shelter their income; high tax rates just keep the poor in poverty.

You can’t get rich on wages. The only way to get rich is to earn, save and invest.

A British wag once asked how we Americans enjoyed taxation with representation. This country was born with a revolt against unjust taxation. It can be reborn the same way.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.        



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Is Trump's Tax Reform Trickle-Down Economics Part Two?


Trump’s latest suggested tax reforms would provide massive benefits to the ultra-wealthy and major business owners of the country, while providing modest benefits to middle-class and lower-class taxpayers. The philosophy behind the plan is a variation of “trickle-down” economics, which predicts that benefits for major businesses would increase hiring and economic growth, but is this a real variation of the original trickle-down economics plan that was the hallmark of Reagan’s presidency? And either way, can this work to bring economic growth to the nation?

Trump’s New Tax Reform

Trump’s new tax plan isn’t yet a complete piece of legislation, but the basics are already outlined. The most noticeable part of the plan is an intention to radically slash corporate taxes in several different forms, including a complete exemption of income earned overseas. Additionally, the plan would shrink the complexities of current individual tax rates to three to four major brackets (there are currently seven), and would expand both the standard tax deduction and child tax credits for all individuals in the United States.

The plan bears much similarity to the “Better Way” tax proposal, which was introduced in 2016 by House Republicans. Though its stated intention was to increase spending power of the middle class, the benefits of families making between $50,000 and $75,000 would amount to an increase of about 0.5 percent, or $270 per year. Plus, by 2025, about 99.6 percent of the plan’s benefits would be distributed to the top 1 percent of earners, with the intended effect being a “trickle down” of benefits, with more job opportunities, entrepreneurship opportunities, and economic growth for everyone.

There’s still much to be debated and decided. House Republicans are currently drafting a piece of tax legislation that draws on both the Better Way proposal and Trump’s recommended tax changes. The current draft of the legislation outlines tax brackets of 12, 25, and 35 percent, with a standard deduction nearly doubling to $24,000. The corporate tax rate would also be lowered from 35 percent to 20 percent, and the alternative minimum tax, which increases taxes for some upper-class individuals, would also be repealed.

Chances of Getting Passed

So will this new tax legislation be passed? It’s hard to say, since so many things still need to be decided. Individual tax bracket thresholds still need to be worked out, and it’s uncertain how much interest deductibility will be limited or whether there will be a fourth bracket for people making more than $410,000 a year. With the majority of Republicans trying to make the plan feasible and back it, there’s a good chance it could be passed, but almost all Democrats will likely attempt to obstruct the bill from becoming law.

The Merits of Trickle-Down Economics

There are some merits to trickle-down economics. To provide more opportunities to individuals struggling with debts and limited income, direct benefits aren’t always the best solution. Short-term fixes, like declaring bankruptcy or providing government handouts can temporarily relieve the problem, but it doesn’t necessarily create more jobs.

The original variation of trickle-down economics came from the Reagan administration back in the 1980s. The top tax rate was slashed significantly, from 70 percent to 28 percent, and the plan allowed for far more business deductions. During Reagan’s two terms as president, 16 million jobs were created, and most of the years of his presidency were marked with economic growth, including a whopping 7.3 percent increase in 1984.

However, it’s not clear that these tax cuts were directly responsible for job creation and economic growth; some argue that Reagan’s increased defense spending may have contributed, and by the end of his presidency, the national debt had skyrocketed. Conversely, Clinton’s presidency came with an increase in corporate taxes, and ended up creating even more jobs.

Still, there’s some limited evidence that trickle-down economics can work, if it’s coupled with a reasonable government spending plan, and a mechanism to control inflation.

Why Trump’s Plan Falls Short

Assume, for a moment, that trickle-down economics is the best way to grow the economy. Trump’s plan still falls short of that goal for a few main reasons:

  • The middle class is almost totally neglected. Trickle-down economics should favor business owners and job creators, but it also needs to give some support to the middle class. Trump’s plan almost completely neglects these American taxpayers.
  • Shareholders aren’t necessarily job creators. Corporate shareholders tend to benefit tremendously from this increased profitability, but shareholders tend to be ultra-wealthy, and aren’t necessarily job creators.
  • There’s no supplementary plan. Trump’s policy isn’t accompanied by a radical decrease in government spending, nor is there a supplementary plan to deal with inflation and unrestricted economic growth.

Trump’s plan isn’t the worst tax model that’s ever been considered, but it isn’t the powerful job creator or economic driver that it’s heralded to be. It may serve as a first draft for something better, but for now, Trump’s trickle-down economic policies are too unpredictable and too undefined to stand on their own. 

Trump’s latest suggested tax reforms would provide massive benefits to the ultra-wealthy and major business owners of the country, while providing modest benefits to middle-class and lower-class taxpayers. The philosophy behind the plan is a variation of “trickle-down” economics, which predicts that benefits for major businesses would increase hiring and economic growth, but is this a real variation of the original trickle-down economics plan that was the hallmark of Reagan’s presidency? And either way, can this work to bring economic growth to the nation?

Trump’s New Tax Reform

Trump’s new tax plan isn’t yet a complete piece of legislation, but the basics are already outlined. The most noticeable part of the plan is an intention to radically slash corporate taxes in several different forms, including a complete exemption of income earned overseas. Additionally, the plan would shrink the complexities of current individual tax rates to three to four major brackets (there are currently seven), and would expand both the standard tax deduction and child tax credits for all individuals in the United States.

The plan bears much similarity to the “Better Way” tax proposal, which was introduced in 2016 by House Republicans. Though its stated intention was to increase spending power of the middle class, the benefits of families making between $50,000 and $75,000 would amount to an increase of about 0.5 percent, or $270 per year. Plus, by 2025, about 99.6 percent of the plan’s benefits would be distributed to the top 1 percent of earners, with the intended effect being a “trickle down” of benefits, with more job opportunities, entrepreneurship opportunities, and economic growth for everyone.

There’s still much to be debated and decided. House Republicans are currently drafting a piece of tax legislation that draws on both the Better Way proposal and Trump’s recommended tax changes. The current draft of the legislation outlines tax brackets of 12, 25, and 35 percent, with a standard deduction nearly doubling to $24,000. The corporate tax rate would also be lowered from 35 percent to 20 percent, and the alternative minimum tax, which increases taxes for some upper-class individuals, would also be repealed.

Chances of Getting Passed

So will this new tax legislation be passed? It’s hard to say, since so many things still need to be decided. Individual tax bracket thresholds still need to be worked out, and it’s uncertain how much interest deductibility will be limited or whether there will be a fourth bracket for people making more than $410,000 a year. With the majority of Republicans trying to make the plan feasible and back it, there’s a good chance it could be passed, but almost all Democrats will likely attempt to obstruct the bill from becoming law.

The Merits of Trickle-Down Economics

There are some merits to trickle-down economics. To provide more opportunities to individuals struggling with debts and limited income, direct benefits aren’t always the best solution. Short-term fixes, like declaring bankruptcy or providing government handouts can temporarily relieve the problem, but it doesn’t necessarily create more jobs.

The original variation of trickle-down economics came from the Reagan administration back in the 1980s. The top tax rate was slashed significantly, from 70 percent to 28 percent, and the plan allowed for far more business deductions. During Reagan’s two terms as president, 16 million jobs were created, and most of the years of his presidency were marked with economic growth, including a whopping 7.3 percent increase in 1984.

However, it’s not clear that these tax cuts were directly responsible for job creation and economic growth; some argue that Reagan’s increased defense spending may have contributed, and by the end of his presidency, the national debt had skyrocketed. Conversely, Clinton’s presidency came with an increase in corporate taxes, and ended up creating even more jobs.

Still, there’s some limited evidence that trickle-down economics can work, if it’s coupled with a reasonable government spending plan, and a mechanism to control inflation.

Why Trump’s Plan Falls Short

Assume, for a moment, that trickle-down economics is the best way to grow the economy. Trump’s plan still falls short of that goal for a few main reasons:

  • The middle class is almost totally neglected. Trickle-down economics should favor business owners and job creators, but it also needs to give some support to the middle class. Trump’s plan almost completely neglects these American taxpayers.
  • Shareholders aren’t necessarily job creators. Corporate shareholders tend to benefit tremendously from this increased profitability, but shareholders tend to be ultra-wealthy, and aren’t necessarily job creators.
  • There’s no supplementary plan. Trump’s policy isn’t accompanied by a radical decrease in government spending, nor is there a supplementary plan to deal with inflation and unrestricted economic growth.

Trump’s plan isn’t the worst tax model that’s ever been considered, but it isn’t the powerful job creator or economic driver that it’s heralded to be. It may serve as a first draft for something better, but for now, Trump’s trickle-down economic policies are too unpredictable and too undefined to stand on their own. 



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