Liberal straw men, misrepresentations, and lies
Over on the Denver Post's "Gang of Four" blog where I contribute, I regularly receive comments that range from the absurd to the ignorant to the insulting (not that I care) from liberal commenters. Following is a blog posting I wrote in response to two particular comments which represented some of the "big lies" being espoused by the American left today. One of my favorite aspects of contributing to these pages is the frothy exclamations by liberal commenters regarding everything from my understanding of economics (or lack thereof), my writing skills (or lack thereof) and, of course, their excellent understanding of political economy (backed, no doubt, by a degree in comparative literature or cell biology.) While I have substantially cut back on the time and energy I spend reading and responding to those comments (I find them to have as little value as they claim to find in my writing, not surprisingly), every once in a while a comment shows up that demands response. There are two such comments in my immediately preceeding article about Barack Obama's "overt socialism" which I find worth not only responding to, but responding to in a full posting. So here goes... In response to "NearDenver" (who liked his/her comment so much it was posted twice), who postulates that in order to be consistent I should consider Ronald Reagan a socialist: NearDenver, It is something between a straw man and an outright lie to argue that "paying the same tax rate as under Reagan" is what Obama wants to cause to happen and is something that those of us who admire Reagan should support. Yes, the maximum rate under Reagan was higher than the current maximum rate during much of his presidency. But it was MUCH higher before Reagan, and it ended at 28%. According to the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Analysis, "The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 was the biggest tax cut (and biggest tax bill) of the 1968-2006 period." Under Reagan, the top tax rate dropped from 70% to 50% (in 1981) to 38.5% (in 1987) to 28% in 1988 at the end of Reagan's term. So yes, there was a rate higher than the current rate during Reagan's term, but Reagan spent 8 years cutting taxes and left us with the lowest top marginal tax rate since 1931. Reagan couldn't wave a wand and magically cut taxes from 70% to 28% all at once. He had a Congress to deal with. But the idea that he (or those of us who think Reagan was a pretty good president) would support raising rates to some rate that happened to exist at some point before the end of his presidency is ludicrous. This is not to say that Reagan's presidency was perfect by any stretch. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 certainly had its faults, for example. But again, the claim that Obama just wants to raise tax cuts to Reagan-era rates is somewhere between intentionally misleading and an outright lie. And second, in response to mkap, who (along with others) argues that I don't know what "socialist" means: mkap, You are correct that dictionary definitions of socialism don't tend to mention a highly "progressive" (i.e. punative of success) tax system. But instead of going to a dictionary, let's go to the man behind the curtain, the man whose views so many American liberals unknowingly put forward because they have no understanding of the history of political economy. And that man is Karl Marx. Marx saw socialism as an intermediate stage between capitalism and communism. As part of that transition plan, as written in the Communist Manifesto, is "A heavy progressive or graduated income tax." So, if you want to tell me that I'm wrong for calling Obama's "Spread the Wealth" policy socialist, I'll agree as long as you'll agree to call it communist. -- ------- In 2006, the Cato Institute awarded The Milton Friedman Prize for advancing Liberty to Mart Laar, the former president of Estonia. His acceptance speech is truly remarkable, though you have to listen through a fairly heavy accent. (Note: the video requires RealPlayer.) There are a couple of great lines in the speech: "Ronald Reagan was once asked what is the difference between a Marxist and an anti-marxist. (He answered) a Marxist is who have read the books of Karl Marx and an anti-marxist is who has understood them." "I'm so sorry looking on the western world to see this Marxist thinking so developed, still. Because progressive taxation is the grand idea of Karl Marx. My friendly and not-so-friendly liberal commenters spend a lot of time assailing me and even assailing the Denver Post for having the temerity to allow a capitalist write on these pages. But at the end of the day, they never refute my arguments with facts, only with erroneous sound bites they must gather from MSNBC and The Nation. Sadly, these commenters prove that Bryan Caplan is right: "democracies work well in giving voters what they want but unfortunately, what voters want isn't particularly wise, especially when it comes to economic policy."
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