“You’re all worse than the Fascists. At least Hitler gave us bread.”1 Alexandra Dubevich, an elderly woman demonstrating against communist rule in Minsk, shouted these words to a senior Belorussian official because of the social eruptions that came on the heels of failed communist policies. “‘Freedom and Bread,’ was the slogan used by Hitler to great effect during the Nazi campaign against tired old President Hindenburg.” It’s still being used.
Why do seemingly rational people often choose tyranny over freedom? How does a Lenin, Stalin, or a Hitler come to power? They promised economic security by promising to fix the system through the manipulation of the law, markets, industry, and production.
Don’t think America is exempt from this type of foolishness. Why is there a rush by millions of Americans to turn to one man — on the Left and the Right — in the belief that he is the right man, with the right message to save America from itself? The stubborn belief persists that fundamental changes come by reconstructing the top by giving power to political technocrats. It’s no different today.
The Obama administration is advocating a series of failed economic policies that nearly 50 percent of the voting public embraces. Self-interest is a good thing when that interest involves one-to-one transactions. But when the government is used as a way to equalize perceived inequities, we are no different from past regimes that we now describe as tyrannies.
It wasn’t too long ago that Congress believed it could painlessly raise taxes and help the middle class by applying a 10 percent luxury tax on yachts priced at more than $100,000 and on private planes that cost more than $250,000. The 10 percent tax applied to the amount of the cost above $100,000, so that a boat selling for $300,000 carried a $20,000 luxury tax in addition to any state or local sales tax. Keep in mind that these luxury items were purchased with after tax income. Even rich people will say no to a purchase when the cost exceeds a certain price threshold, a threshold that cannot be determined by bureaucrats and congressmen.
Congress believed that rich people who can afford the 10 percent tax would be helping the average tax payer and pay down the debt (which never happens). But it didn’t work the way Congress had hoped. The boating business was hit hard with numerous layoffs and bankruptcies. The people who could afford to purchase high-ticket items kept their money, bought something else, or invested it while “Overall employment in the industry, including the makers of smaller, less-expensive boats, . . . dropped to 400,000, from 600,000 in 1988.”2 In their rush to fix something, Congress created innumerable other problems.
We now have a near majority of Americans who have no regard for how an economy works. Their only desire is to be fed and sheltered. They’re willing to be slaves to the State at the expense of others. They’re like the Israelites who wanted to return to the slavery of Egypt. At least in Egypt they were fed by the State.
“The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” (Ex. 16:2–3)
This is the argument of economic liberals. If conservative – free market – economic policies prevail, people will starve. With this falsehood in mind, the people would rather return to the fleshpots of Egypt where they were “secure,” that is, where they were slaves. Going through the wilderness is hard, but it is necessary. I pray that a majority of voters will understand this come November. If not, then it’s back to Egypt.
- Newsweek (April 22, 1991), 19. [↩]
- Agis Salpukas, “Tax Plan Lifts the Yacht Business,” The New York Times (February 7, 1992), C1. [↩]