The Big Lie: Common Sense or Class Warfare?

The lies keep on coming. Someone once said that in “the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall [as] victims to the big lie than the small lie.”

Richard Belzer, who played John Munch on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, defines The Big Lie, in his book UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Have To Be Crazy To Believe, this way: “If you tell a lie that’s big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap.”

Here’s one of President Obama’s Big Lies:

“Now I hear folks running around calling this class warfare. This is not class warfare, let me tell you something. Asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as a secretary, that is just common sense. That is common sense.”

As I pointed out in a previous article, Warren Buffett and his secretary pay the same tax rate. If she made as much money as her boss, she would pay the same amount of tax as he does.

Now to the “common sense” argument. Any good student of history knows that low tax rates result in personal freedom and economic prosperity for everyone. Consider the following:

When the collapse of the Roman Empire “released the tax-paying millions . . .  from a paralyzing oppression,” many new technologies began to appear and were rapidly and widely adopted with the result that ordinary people were able to live far better, and, after centuries of decline under Rome, the population began to grow again. No longer were the productive classes bled to sustain the astonishing excesses of the Roman elite, or to erect massive monuments to imperial egos, or to support vast armies to hold Rome’s many colonies in thrall. Instead, human effort and ingenuity turned to better ways to farm, to sail, to transport goods, to conduct business, to build churches, to make war, to educate, and even to play music.1

Of course, economic freedom leads to a less powerful State, and that’s why tyrants want to keep taxes high, especially on the most productive because they are the most free and can be a political threat. Also, the most productive can be used as targets to build up an envious base. James Macdonald writes the following in A Free Nation Deep in Debt: “The ancients were not fooled: they saw taxation as a sure badge of subservience” 273).

  1. Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2011), 239–240. []