Mark my word, you will raise tax rates and you’ll feel good because you went out there and you got those rich people…You campaigned against rich people and you got enough envy whipped up in the country, and you’re going to stick it to those rich people. But guess what? You may not get any more revenue. You may not get any more economic growth. But you can say, “I stuck it to the rich people.” ~ Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

I don’t like emotional appeals. I think emotion deceives and distorts, and I believe the Bible on the folly of letting emotion rule one’s actions: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

In the wake of the recent agreement to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” – a hyperbolic and media-friendly term with little practical value – I am struck by the fact that one of the major components of the agreement, raising the income tax rates on individuals making $400,000 or more a year and couples making $450,000 or more a year, has, when subjected to impassioned scrutiny, more emotional than practical impact.

Anyone who looks at the “tax the rich” scenario with the cold eye of evidentiary analysis would correctly conclude that it will have no impact on the national debt, our unfunded liabilities, or even the annual deficit for one year.

The Congressional Budget Office projects a $620 billion increase in revenue over 10 years as a result of the increased tax rates. That averages out to $62 billion a year, and since the federal government spends $10,460,188,800 a day, this new “revenue” will be exhausted in less than six days, if not sooner given the administration’s desire for increased expenditures, or “investments,” their preferred term. I am certain the administration is aware of this fact.

Incidentally, the use of the word “investments” to describe increased government spending is yet another attempt by the elites to elicit a specific emotional response from the people. After all, who would oppose “investments” since their intent is to bring a positive return to the “shareholders,” namely the American taxpayer?

If this maneuver isn’t going to contribute to debt reduction, then what was its purpose?

If it was because the government wants to spend more, then why not say that? I think you know the answer to that; such an admission would not have been politically prudent in an election year.

Even if they were bold enough to admit that their intent is to spend more, the limited revenue generated by this tax rate increase isn’t nearly enough to cover the $10 trillion in new debt the Congressional Budget Office has projected as an outcome of the administration’s own ten-year budget submission. Even if they had gotten the tax rate increase they desired on individuals making $200,000 or more, or families making $250,000 or more, that would add only an additional $180 billion in revenue over the same ten year period. Once again, I am certain the administration is aware of this.

The point I’m trying to make by walking through this analysis is that the administration and its advocates are not serious about deficit reduction. I also don’t think it matters to them that their “tax the rich” scheme is unlikely to make up for the massive spending increases they seek. This tax rate increase was a political victory for them in that they bagged the trophy they promised to their constituents – they “stuck it to the rich people.”

It’s usually at this point that my liberal friends, clearly stung by the implication that their central tax policy is motivated by nothing more than covetousness and class envy, accuse me and my conservative allies of ignoring the theft and fraud perpetrated on the American people by the financial services industry in the economic meltdown of 2008.

We’ll set aside for the moment the simplistic and inaccurate notion that our economic collapse was due solely to criminal actions, rather than deliberate federal policies, and business decisions carried out with the blessing and encouragement of politicians from both parties. We’ll also not delve into a discussion of how much our own greed played into us making bad personal financial decisions which left us vulnerable when the housing bubble burst.

To the notion that the increased tax rates for upper income taxpayers are effectively a fair exchange after their “theft” of Americans’ wealth, I ask my liberal friends, “Must all upper income Americans pay the price for the alleged malfeasance of the few? Is that your definition of ‘fairness’?”

Here is what I believe. The distribution of others’ income is a core principle of the American left, and taking more from those who have more is essential to the successful execution of their distributive policies.

Note that I didn’t use the term “redistribution” or its derivatives because that is also a term fraught with emotional baggage. As I’ve stated in the past, redistribution presumes that income is arbitrarily disseminated in the first place rather than earned under mutually agreed upon contractual arrangements, and that some benevolent entity must intervene to reallocate income more equitably.

I categorically reject the inference that most people who have done well financially didn’t make their income legally and ethically, as well as the idea that the state has the moral or legal authority to confiscate their earnings solely for the purpose of “fairness,” which is another emotionally-laden word with little effective policy significance. “Fairness” isn’t objective, nor is there a single standard or power that establishes a universally accepted definition of “fairness.”

I can say with absolute confidence that life has never been fair, nor will it ever be. In fact, we have all had experiences where we were the beneficiaries of someone showing us favor over another, and I doubt we would surrender those experiences in the name of “fairness.” Jesus tells us that even God’s creation isn’t “fair,” since “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

Pursuing “fairness’ in economic policy is futile and frustrates the “winners” and the “losers,” the former because there will always be someone who has more, and they will always be discontented as a result, and the latter because they will accrue no benefit from their labors and therefore will lose the incentive to excel, which negatively impacts the proposed beneficiaries of this “fairness” doctrine – and around and around it goes. It’s human nature that has played itself out multiple times throughout history, and the pride of those who choose to ignore nature and history because they think they can do it better astounds me.

It annoys me when the president describes his tax rate hikes as “asking the wealthy to pay a little more.” The state doesn’t “ask” anyone to do anything; the only tool at the state’s disposal to accomplish its objectives is coercion.

Sadly, it’s not as if we weren’t warned about how our love of equality could lead to increased coercion by the state in order to achieve it. Alexis de Tocqueville noted in 1835 in his book, Democracy in America, that Americans’ passion for equality and fairness could have unintended consequences:

But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.

To those who think the current trophy mounted on the state’s wall as a result of the “fiscal cliff” agreement is enough, I challenge you to consider Tocqueville’s warning. The state’s pursuit of economic “fairness” will result in an expanding definition of “haves” from whom more will be “asked” to effect “redistributive justice,” as then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama phrased it in 2001. The hunt is just beginning.

Originally posted at Ron's Reflections

About The Author

Ron Miller

Ron Miller of Lynchburg, Virginia is an associate dean and assistant professor of government at Liberty University, a conservative activist and commentator, and author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom's Porch. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for several online sites and print publications, and his own website, RonOnTheRight.com. Join him on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter. Title and affiliation are provided for identification purposes only. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Liberty University.

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Comment by Barry Gabrielson on January 7, 2013 at 6:14pm

I forgot one for regressives:

Bad Behavior > Judgement/Ethics

Comment by Barry Gabrielson on January 7, 2013 at 6:03pm

Someone should have a tee shirt with the progressive mantra:


Me > You =  You are a Victim/Oppression.

Subjective Feelings > truth/facts/evidence= Progressiveism

Subjective Feelings > Personal Responsibility

Social Justice > Equal Justice

Socialism > Capitalism

Winning < Truth


Comment by Catherine on January 7, 2013 at 3:55pm

Doesn't that depend on what the definition of "think" is????? LOL!

Comment by Doug Nicholson on January 7, 2013 at 2:50pm

Yes, Catherine, but conservatives hear that baloney from Oprah, then "think" about it! LOL!

Comment by Catherine on January 6, 2013 at 7:32pm

Totally agree, Doug.  But, that disease does not know "party lines."  I believe too many people today have been taught that their "feelings" mean everything - isn't that what Oprah and her ilk taught? 

Comment by Doug Nicholson on January 6, 2013 at 7:20pm
Talk show host Michael Savage has it right when he says (the title of his book), "Liberalism is a mental disorder." Liberals don't think; they "feel". Listen carefully to liberals and you'll hear them frequently saying, "How do you feel about such-and-such?" or, "I feel that assault weapons, etc. should be banned." Rarely will the word "think" escape their lips because they don't think so much as "feel" and as Ron quotes from the Bible, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Comment by Barry Gabrielson on January 6, 2013 at 2:32pm

It is all psychological warfare, a war on words and meaning.  Progressives are great at this, at the deception, the fabrication, to falsely try to explain the narrative.  Look at history for this deception.  It has and will always be the "blame game".  Look at the 1000's of years of history of war.  The best way to manipulate a crowd is through hate, envy, jealousy, etc.  Placing blame by the elite on your neighbor has always worked.  Explain to the ignorant masses that their proverty is being caused by their neighbor who has more wealth, has a better life then theirs.  The elite remove their responsibility to take care of their own by passing the blame on a neighbor country, a different religion, different color, etc.  It's their fault for your proverty so lets take it from them to equal things out.  Why should they have everything while others suffer?  Things must be equal and fair, those who have must share this wealth, since they stole this wealth from us.

Does this story sound familiar?  Throughout our history, governments/Kingdoms have made these same immoral statements, falsely blaming other for all their cultures ills.  The Jews were falsely blamed throughout history.  They have always been societies scapegoat for 1000's of years.  Times have not changed.  Look at the comflict in the middle east.  Arab nations are wealthy with oil.  Yet Jews are blamed for these nations proverty?  The wealthy live in palaces, have major wealth while many people starve.  Who do they blame, yes its all Israels fault.  This is happening throughout the Arab World.  Jews are blamed for their own proverty, a scape goat for their governments oppression.  Look at here in America.  Who is being blamed for proverty, yes the wealthy.  Its their fault that people live in poverty, not the government, successful business people.  Not successful people in DC, The President, Congress, all who live like Royalty.  Its not their fault, its big business fault (Banks, Wallstreet), while the elite in government spend millions on free vacations, bribes for votes, free perks on the backs of the productive.  Times have not change for 1000's of years.  The blame game is in every culture, where the people in power pass blame (Their own blame) to others, while they sit drinking expense Champaign, eating expensive caviar on their yachts.  They gain their wealth and prosperity from others hard work, then blame to people who treat them as Royalty.  Look at John Kerry or the Kennedys.  Royalty who blames others for oppression while they live like Royalty.  These progressive hypocrites live like Kings, blaming others for the countries proverty.  Things never change with ignorant masses who get motivated by evil people who tell them to blame others for their own affliction.  When will people become smart and blame the right people, the people who falsely blame others.

Comment by David Wooldridge on January 6, 2013 at 2:04pm

Coservatives will NEVER own the narrative as long as we have neutered representation in the form of McConnell, and Boehner, the Laurel and Hardy of Politics.

Comment by Richard Curtis on January 6, 2013 at 1:16pm

Quit calling it the RICH and start calling it the SUCCESSFUL, isn't that what it is??

Comment by Richard Curtis on January 6, 2013 at 1:14pm

Not only have the Dems bought enough of the electorate to keep Obama in office, they have bought enough to keep a Democrat in office for as long as I live. Now, they want to change the Constitution so he can be the last President of the US, until we actually DECLARE bankruptcy.

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