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Fairness ≠ Envy and Jealousy

Fairness ≠ Envy and Jealousy

The age of Obama is the age of envy and jealousy couched as fairness. 

As I have documented many times, Obama’s political strategy during and after the 2008 campaign has been to appeal to envy and jealousy directed towards the Top 2% or 5%, depending upon the speech.  Just recently, Obama mocked the wealthy as sitting around “counting their money.”

In Obama’s world, “rich” really means nothing more than independence from the government, an ability to fund your life, education and retirement without relying on other people’s money redistributed by the goverment.  A “tax cut” just means keeping more of what you already earned, it does not mean receiving anything from the government for what you did not earn.

Obama’s politics of envy and jealousy worked in 2008, but were not the central theme of the campaign.  “Hope and change” was the theme, which amounted to nothing more than the delusional belief that a trained agitator from Chicago would be something other than an agitator as president.

As we approach the 2012 campaign, Obama has gone into full throttle envy and jealousy agitation mode.  The Obama campaign has made the decision that turning those who receive against those who pay is good politics.

But there is true hope, based on a poll of how Brits view “fairness” as described in this column at The Telegraph, that people will reject the politics of envy and jealousy (emphasis mine):

 As we report today, Policy Exchange – supposedly the Prime Minister’s favourite ideas outlet – has done a brave and unusual thing. Rather than polling the public just on policy and voting intention, it has put a far more abstract moral issue before them. It instructed the pollsters at YouGov to find out precisely what the public thought the most powerful term of approbation in the political lexicon – “fair” – actually amounted to.

The quite unequivocal reply that was received (with breathtakingly enormous majorities in some forms) came as no surprise to this column. To most voters, fairness does not mean an equal distribution of resources and wealth, or even a redistribution of these things according to need. It means, as the report’s title – “Just Deserts” – implies, that people get what they deserve. And what is deserved, the respondents made clear, refers to that which is achieved by effort, talent or dedication to duty: in other words, earned on merit. 

Imagine that. After all these years of being morally blackmailed by the poverty lobby, harried by socialist ideologues and shouted at by self-serving public sector axe-grinders, the people are not cowed. Even after being bludgeoned by the BBC thought monitors and browbeaten by Left-liberal media academics with the soft Marxist view of a “fair” society – from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs – they have not bought it.

Let’s only hope that the American people will have the wisdom of the British on the meaning of “fairness.”  That would be a welcome change.

Update:  Left Coast Rebel asks, “Britons are waking up and get it, will we before it’s too late?”

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Comments

Mr. Jacobson:
May I suggest a column by Arthur Brooks in Apr-22 WashPost about fairness and merit. Sort of speaks to the same thing.

To me, fair means equality in OPPORTUNITY, not in the end result.

Best holiday wishes to you and your readers —

That's the way people in banana republics think, you know, those 25-30 million illegals "living in the shadows" among us waiting for their Moses to welcome them to the promised land. Kennedy, Bush, McCain, Obama, and just about everyone with power and influence wants to be that Moses.

Once that amnesty is granted, it's all over. No melting pot to Americanize these people, this time it will be the other way around. The republic will be over and 3rd world "democracy" built on class warfare will be the law of the land.

Let's hope that Congress doesn't do something stupid before 2012 or that Obama doesn't issue and executive order "liberating" these people just before the election so they won't need the help of the public employee unions to vote this time.

It wouldn't be quite as bad if liberals would refrain from punishing the productive. Even though they foment hatred towards the rich, they always propose raising the income tax instead of creating a wealth tax.

And yet, these people continue to elect socialists.

I'm not impressed by these British "stalwarts".

"A "tax cut" just means keeping more of what you already earned, it does not mean receiving anything from the government for what you did not earn."

earned is a rather loaded term when talking about the rich. Nobody earns a multimillion dollar a year salary and benefits package, there's simply no way an individual can make such a contribution as to warrant that kind of reward. Furthermore in general the wealthy are not actually wealthy due to income on labor (the kind of money you can reasonably refer to as "earned) but off of investments where their labor is essentially zero but the payoff can be enormous.

Which leads to the most important point, the wealthy pay a disproportionately small amount of taxes. I know, I know you hear people in a tizzy all the time saying "the richest 10% have to pay 70% of the taxes!" (example: http://www.ntu.org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html). The problem is those stats are a prime example of lying with numbers. The richest 10% in america own 80% of the wealth. if they 80% and only pay 70% of the taxes that means they are SEVERELY undertaxed, not overtaxed. We, the 90% left with only 20% of the pie, have to pay 30% of the taxes.

Furthermore as above this is talking about income taxes, and income is not where the wealthy make their money. When you look at all taxes the proportion paid by the rich compared to the middle and lower class is much smaller. Again, I know, I know you've been told the poor pay nothing in taxes. That's nothing in INCOME TAXES when you look at total taxes the poor pay a MUCH larger proportion of their wealth than the wealthy, as in by orders of magnitude.

So yeah tax cuts for the wealthy are totally uncalled. I would point that so long as income inequality continues to grow (to say nothing of wealth inequality) that the high end taxes are way too low. At a minimum our tax code should prevent the very grotesque income distortions you now see where executives earn hundreds and even thousands of times more than the skilled workers they manage.

This meme has been the focal strategy of the Dems ever since FDR. "We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect." (Harry Hopkins)It works and is not going to change.

sort of runic rhyme | April 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

"Atlas Shrugged" the movie says much the same thing about the politics of resentment and takings, but your post is more eloquent than the script (and maybe the book, as its prose is as unsentimental as its protags)

Still, it's a fun watch and blessedly timely. The rhetoric re Fairness could have been lifted from Obama's teleprompter and Pelosi's panderings, and the illicit motivations behind the common good posturing of the corrupt political class intent on favoring friends and enriching themselves while punishing the uncooperative sounded like news accounts of our current Wall St.-GE corporatist administration.

The comment above arguing for higher income taxes without making the case on whom and why to spend the presumptive windfall comes off as a deep-seated zero-sum hostility toward "the rich." Anyway, personal issues and projections aside, the fact is these days fewer of us see the great spending needs that Democrats do. We're an affluent society awash in opportunity: Education is available through books everywhere, on the net, choices in institutions (just not so much in our compulsory public schools or unconscionably expensive unis.) We've got entry level jobs and vocational ladders; we've got bonanza fortune in Hollywood, music, and on the courts, if you've talent or at least a face and voice. We've got the entrepreneurial ethos (just too much regulation.) And we have a charitable character as individuals, congregants, neighbors and Americans that enjoys giving and choosing causes, but not being levied, drafted, bullied and coerced. Regular folk donate to Salvation Army and food banks and rich people do philanthropy.

At any rate, were "fairness" Progs to have their confiscatory way and tax more to fund market-unworthy projects, reward special interests that lend partisan support and pay voting constituents, the real money will move away. It can afford to and can't afford not to. If Progs had their way, we'd all be poorer, except for them. That must be the idea.

One of the Ten Commandments is "Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor's House…..Nor Anything That is Your Neighbor's." There is also the Commandment "Thou Shall Not Steal."

By stirring up of envy and jealousy, Obama (who claims to be Christian) and liberals encourage the breaking of these two laws. By envying our neighbors, it follows that we will then feel entitled to whatever they have, even if we must steal it. This is a violation of God's laws and only leads to misery, hatred, and societal discord.

I think Tlaloc missed the point of the post. Those who are wealthy have not squandered what they have been given… whether it be family money, family company, intelligence, courage, whatever. If they invent a product they are entitled to the income. You are not entitled to it. You did not invent it nor do anything to bring it to market. Employed by that person? Be thankful. Jealous? Get off your butt, invent something people are willing to pay for, and bring it to market. Then work hard. Make hard choices, and take the risks. Hire employees. Expand. Accrue wealth along the way. Your choice. Put up or shut up.

"Nobody earns a multimillion dollar a year salary and benefits package, there's simply no way an individual can make such a contribution as to warrant that kind of reward."

So you would argue that someone like Bill Gates, who leads a company that has been one of the major drivers behind the information revolution- thereby directly and indirectly creating probably tens of millions of jobs, adding productivity to just about every existing industry, and improving the standard of living of most of the planet- hasn't 'earned' a multimillion/year compensation?

"the wealthy are not actually wealthy due to income on labor but off of investments where their labor is essentially zero but the payoff can be enormous."

Aside from the economic arguments about compensation for risk (investment), I find it laughable that you object to 'the rich' earning income from "essentially zero" labor, but you're OK with redistributing their income to 'the poor' who then get a payoff from absolutely zero labor. You can't make this stuff up.

"The richest 10% in america own 80% of the wealth. if they 80% and only pay 70% of the taxes that means they are SEVERELY undertaxed"

No, it means the government demands too much of the nation's wealth.

Tlaloc-
You might want to look at the numbers some more. The URL you gave provides a chart taken from IRS data for 2008 (the most recent year released), but it only gives an income threshold that puts taxpayers in the top 10%, 1%, etc. It doesn't talk much about those people's income as a share of national income. Go to the IRS Tax Data site (http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=133521,00.html). Their numbers don't match yours.

The top 10% pays 69.94% of total income taxes, but has only 45.77% of total AGI. The top 1% pays 38.02%, but has only 20% of total AGI.

Shorter Tlaloc: as long as I'm an overseer, back to work on the Copperhead collective. Democrat = slavery since 1860.

"I think Tlaloc missed the point of the post. Those who are wealthy have not squandered what they have been given… whether it be family money, family company, intelligence, courage, whatever."

I don't see how this addresses anything I said.

"If they invent a product they are entitled to the income. You are not entitled to it. You did not invent it nor do anything to bring it to market."

Me personally, maybe not, but the government? Absolutely. Because they invented their product in an environment the government made possible. The government provided the education, the transportation, the communication, the financial networks, and on and on.

"Employed by that person? Be thankful. Jealous? Get off your butt, invent something people are willing to pay for, and bring it to market. Then work hard. Make hard choices, and take the risks. Hire employees. Expand. Accrue wealth along the way. Your choice. Put up or shut up."

Or we could get those people to pay their fair way given the enormous benefits they've been given and continue to accrue as privileged members of this society. Why should I have to pay more to support them?

"So you would argue that someone like Bill Gates, who leads a company that has been one of the major drivers behind the information revolution- thereby directly and indirectly creating probably tens of millions of jobs, adding productivity to just about every existing industry, and improving the standard of living of most of the planet- hasn't 'earned' a multimillion/year compensation?"

Good example- no bill gates doesn't deserve anything but a massive kick in the crotch. Rather than being a major driver of the information revolution he's personally responsible for retarding human progress in that endeavor. Microsoft has been one of the biggest obstacles to the information revolution of all time. They are thugs, and I say this as someone who spent a decade working for Intel. Everyone I worked with at Intel absolutely hated microsoft because of the way they managed to completely screw up everything they touched. They are absolutely terrible engineers but excellent mobsters. They can't write code worth a damn but they can sure as hell strong arm your company into using their god awful products.

So yeah, no Bill gates doesn't deserve it. Even if he'd done what you said, he still doesn't deserve that kind of compensation. No one does. No one is worth thousands of their fellow man.

"Aside from the economic arguments about compensation for risk (investment), I find it laughable that you object to 'the rich' earning income from "essentially zero" labor, but you're OK with redistributing their income to 'the poor' who then get a payoff from absolutely zero labor. You can't make this stuff up. "

Yeah I mean why should people get adequate food and shelter, it's not like they need them. Oh wait. You seriously want to compare the rich giving up a small slice of disposable income with the poor getting help surviving? I wasn't going to paint you as absolutely soulless but if you insist on doing it to yourself I guess I can't stop you.

You still haven't addressed the substance of my criticism- that the poor get a payoff from zero labor. You didn't even hint that they should have to work for it, which leaves me to assume that you think it should be a pure handout. Zero labor. If expecting people to work the bare minimum to keep a roof over their heads and feed themselves means I'm absolutely soulless, then I'm guilty as charged.

So you didn't like my Bill Gates example. There are plenty of other entrepreneurs, successful managers, etc out there who are responsible for creating thousands of jobs. All those "thousands of their fellow men" wouldn't have their jobs if not for that one man, so I think you can make a pretty good argument that they are worth that, at least in terms of salary.

"You still haven't addressed the substance of my criticism- that the poor get a payoff from zero labor."

They get the benefit because they need it. I'm not sure why that's hard for you to get. Welfare is not about rewarding industry but about protecting the most vulnerable and hopefully giving them a chance to recover from bad circumstances (yes, even including self inflicted circumstances).

"There are plenty of other entrepreneurs, successful managers, etc out there who are responsible for creating thousands of jobs."

No there aren't. That's pure fantasy. No one person creates thousands of jobs. They create a few jobs which create a few more.

Welfare is not about rewarding industry but about using the confiscated money of a relative few to buy the votes of the lazy and indigent many, and creating an incentive for them to remain lazy and indigent so that they will be dependent on welfare indefinitely, thereby securing their votes and the resultant political power forever.

Fixed that for you.

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