“You’re all worse than the Fascists. At least Hitler gave us bread.”1 Alexandra Dubevich 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.
The radical element in the Democrat Party is using similar arguments to push an agenda of wealth confiscation and redistribution. They start at the top with the richest people. “They can afford it,” people like Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tell the masses. And the people shout, “Yes, make them pay their fair share!”
And when confiscation of their money isn’t enough, the next group of rich people has their wealth confiscated. The process continues until they come for your money and my money. The 1913 income tax amendment (16th Amendment) was sold to the people as a way of taxing the super-rich.
The first tax collection day under the new law took place on March 1, 1914. Since the average worker earned only about $800 a year, few people actually had to pay any federal income tax. Less than 4 percent of American families made an annual income of $3,000 or more. Deductions and exemptions further shrank the pool of taxpayers. (Constitutional Rights Foundation)
It didn’t take long before the income tax came after the people who voted for it because it was sold to them as “a tax on the rich.”
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. Let’s not forget devaluing the currency through inflation, thus, pushing people into higher tax brackets.
Radical Democrats are 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 voluntary transactions. But when the government is used to equalize perceived inequities, we are no different from past regimes that we now describe as tyrannies.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has criticized a “billionaire NFL owner [who] just paid $100M for a ‘superyacht’ with its own iMax theater.” She went on to write, “I’m pretty sure he can pay my new #UltraMillionaireTax to help the millions of yacht-less Americans struggling with student loan debt.”
And the people cheered.
Yes, tax the bastard! No one needs a “superyacht.” In fact, no one needs a yacht. Actually, no one needs a boat when people can’t afford healthcare.
Where does Sen. Warren think that $100,000,000 went? It paid the people who worked on the superyacht, including half of their Social Security and Medicare contributions and in many cases their healthcare coverage. It paid the companies that made the parts that went into its construction, the facility where it was housed during construction, the rent on the building, the utilities, the transportation companies that delivered the materials, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, designers, etc. The NFL owner who paid $100,000,000 for the superyacht was involved in voluntary wealth redistribution.
The people who had a hand in building the superyacht saved, spent, and invested the money they received for working on it. The bought all kinds of things, paid their utility bills, their mortgages, went on vacations, fixed their cars, remodeled their homes, sent to see a movie.
One poster wrote, “A lot of people had to build that boat. Tax the rich and those people lose their jobs.” Exactly!
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 taxpayer and pay down the debt (which never happens). But it didn’t work the way Congress had hoped. (It never does.) 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. It’s the sin of envy.
The welfare statists want to strip today’s rich of their wealth. They are driven by envy. Their policies will only change the faces at the top. But they hate the faces now at the top. They want to expand the state’s confiscatory powers in order to “get even with the fat cats.” This will only fatten other cats, who will replace today’s fat cats.
Envy is a destructive sin. It cannot be placated.
Warren’s policies will only enrich other people. Castro empoverished Cuba but enriched himself and his family. The same thing is happening in Venezuela.
- Newsweek (April 22, 1991), 19. [↩]
- Agis Salpukas, “Tax Plan Lifts the Yacht Business,” The New York Times (February 7, 1992), C1. [↩]