By: John Hayward
1/4/2013 10:22 AM
The first paychecks of 2013 are going out this week. Many more will be issued next week. Low-information voters who think the big news from New Years’ Day consisted of President Obama saving them from tax increases are gaping at their diminished paychecks in stunned disbelief.
They’re not as stunned as they should be – Obama has a lot more direct and indirect taxation aimed at them – but the immediate loss of money from their paychecks is a slap of cold water into their data-drained faces. “My paycheck just went down by an amount that I don’t feel comfortable with,” moaned a poster at Democratic Underground. That’s the weak-willed serf’s melancholy rendition of “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
It’s sad to think that for a large group of Americans – enough to form a winning political coalition, as we just saw last November – absolutely nothing matters except the number printed under “net pay” on their weekly checks. All this talk of government dependency, unsustainable debt, and even the comical level of corruption in Obama’s “crony capitalism” is abstract to them, a political football game they occasionally watch on TV. They think declaring “all politicians are crooks!” is the height of world-weary sophistication… but the attitude leads them to the decidedly unsophisticated view of major elections as popularity contests. The incomprehensible size, complexity, and fraudulence of Big Government thus becomes a nutrient for its continued growth, as the public essentially gives up all hope of understanding it, much less controlling it.
What are all you folks with smaller paychecks complaining about, anyway? You’ve just re-elected a President who insisted that some Americans needed to “pay just a little bit more.” You didn’t care that his numbers didn’t add up. You didn’t laugh him off the stage when he told you that a trillion dollars of tax increases over ten years would make a real difference to a government that spends a trillion more than it has, every single year. Well, it turns out that you are among the people who get to “pay just a little bit more.” Something like 80 percent of American households will lose more of their income to the government because of the fiscal cliff bill. Why was that confiscation of wealth only acceptable when you thought Obama was talking about other people?
“But I need the money more than those rich guys do!” you wail. “2 percent of my income means more to me than it does to them!” Says who? The increase of 3.6 percent in the top marginal rate for people earning over $450,000 works out to a lot more money than the $1000 or $15000 that middle class workers are giving up, following the conclusion of a temporary 2 percent Social Security tax cut. The sizable cohort of Americans who don’t pay taxes at all could not care less, because they’re not losing anything… but touch their Food Stamp Nation benefits, and you’ll have a war on your hands. The political class has claimed the power to decide how much of its property each group of Americans “deserves.” It’s all fun and games until they decide someone else “deserves” your property more than you do, isn’t it?
And this will never cease to be a source of political control over the electorate, because there’s no precise mathematical formula for “fairness.” One percent of the population pays nearly 40 percent of income taxes, while earning only 17 percent of the nation’s income – but that still isn’t “fair.” In fact, you middle-class voters have allowed the ruling political party to portray those people as thieves. That process will never end, no matter how far it pushes America into confiscation and ruin. And by focusing upon what it gives and takes, we allow ourselves to be distracted from a proper focus upon what government controls. That’s what really needs to be reduced. Unsustainable budget deficits are a symptom of that problem.
Are you starting to appreciate how envy-based, welfare-dependent, “progressive” class warrior nations really work… especially when they approach the point where they stop working? The signature features of this system are short-sightedness, gullibility, and greed. You indulged the boundless hunger for power by politicians, which none dare call by its proper name of “greed.” They are very happy for you to believe that no dollar matters until it comes out of your pocket. They love it when their subjects feel that way. The blind are much easier to herd.
It is natural for everyone to want the best for themselves and their families. It’s natural for people to feel entitled to their own income and property. But when you assert those ambitions for yourself while denying them to others, you follow the path of greed and envy, rather than the pursuit of liberty. That’s what it means when you spend December shouting that other people should pay more, then burst into tears when your own paycheck gets a bit smaller in January. You shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself serving the interests of those who have mastered the forces of greed and envy for their own profit. It’s their full-time job, and they make a great living at it. You will never be more than an amateur, dabbling in arts they have perfected.
You’re losing that money from your paychecks now because you allowed Washington to control you with two “temporary tax cuts.” One of them originated in the Bush presidency; the other was Obama’s “stimulus” cut to Social Security taxes. The latter is the one that just died in miserable silence, even though at the beginning of the presidential election, Obama portrayed it as the most important thing in the world, saying only people who refused to put “country before party” would fail to extend it. He even encouraged people to bombard Washington with complaints about what losing $40 per paycheck would mean to them. Funny how he doesn’t want to hear about your forty dollars any more, isn’t it? He just blew north of $10 million in taxpayer money on his luxury Hawaiian vacation, counting the extra travel required for his participation in the fiscal cliff drama… which he very much knew was coming when he decided to schedule a vacation in Hawaii. That’s equal to the extra money coming out of about 7,000 middle-class paychecks this year.
You only got to keep your “temporary tax cut” as long as you fell into line behind political masters who whipped you into a frenzy. A “temporary tax cut” is something you must perpetually exhaust yourself fighting to keep, forgetting all other considerations while you struggle. In the end, you lost one of your temporary tax cuts, while barely managing to hang on to the other. The “victorious” Barack Obama immediately vowed to seize even more power: more spending, more taxes, more debt. He didn’t “defeat” the Republicans, my unhappy middle-class reader. He defeated you.