Culture and Politics - Obama Nation Building
Written by Douglas Wilson
Friday, April 23, 2010
So let us begin this brief economic primer with these inspirational words from Dave Barry:
The question is: What can we, as citizens, do to reform our tax system? As you know, under our three-branch system of government, the tax laws are created by Satan. But he works through the Congress, so that's where we must focus our efforts.
When it comes to Congress and out of control spending, we don't need an election so much as we need an intervention. And when we get that intervention, we can count on a great deal of bluster and anger from those who occupy the cushy slots of the Republic. They just don't want to be sat down and told to knock it off already with the fiscal insanity.
But because this is about power, not money, they just keep going with the grasping. Milton's Satan would rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven, and the same kind of tiny hearts are performing the same sort of priority calculus now. This kind of character would rather be a dear-leader-commandante in a banana republic than a well-off nobody in a prosperous nation who had to be content with minding his own business.
Bossing around a bunch of miserable serfs is far to be preferred to letting them just go off . . . and do things on their own without permission. Managed misery is better, they stoutly maintain, than unmanaged happiness. And so the graspers are doing their level best to get their fingerprints on everything, regardless of whether it makes any sense or not. Watching the evening news out of Washington night after night leaves the intelligent observer agape. Lily Tomlin put it well. "No matter how cynical you get, you can never keep up."
But after a while, you begin to wonder if it is you. Maybe water does flow uphill. Maybe we can spend ourselves rich, and why didn't mankind discover this sooner?
So let's review some basics. Getting soaked is a disincentive for whatever it was that you were doing that got you soaked. What is the economic difference between a tax and a fine? Make that a tax debt of 10K and a fine of 10K. The fine is a tax for having done something wrong, and the tax is a fine for having done something right, but apart from that, what is economic difference?
When it comes to incentives and disincentives, there isn't one. If you fine somebody 10K for a safety infraction at the factory, it is because you want them to stop it with the safety infractions. If you tax that same factory 10K for making a profit, what is you want them to stop now? And why do all our smart johnnies with fifty pound heads feign surprise and astonishment when that starts to happen?
Ronald Reagan saw it right. Despite the handwaving chutzpah, the governmental mindset remains simplistic -- "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
Given that the elementary economic principles here are something that you should be able to explain to a fifth grader, we also need to remember our biblical basics. Refusal to see these things, and the corresponding refusal to act on them, does not indicate an intelligence problem. It is a spiritual problem. Free markets cannot be owned and operated by slaves. If we have a nation dedicated to the service of false gods, and we do, it is neither possible nor desirable for us to have economic liberty.
Free markets are Holy Spirit markets. They are kind of like CostCo. You can't shop there unless you are a member. If a nation wants to be free of economic lunacy, then it will not be enough to read Hazlitt, Bastiat, or Smith. If a nation doesn't want economic chains, the text to read would be John 3. Ye must be born again.