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The Statist of the Union Lecture and the Myth of Income Equality

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  • Ron Hart
    Ron Hart is a syndicated columnist and humorist.
By Ron Hart, Op-Ed Contributor
January 29, 2014|11:48 am

Tuesday's State of the Union dress-down was another divisive, arrogant and partisan lecture by a failed president. I am glad four of the Supreme Court Justices stopped coming since Obama rudely attacked them.

During the Statist of the Union speech, Joe Biden dutifully sat behind the President and clapped on cue to his liberal laundry list. The highly excitable "Plugs" Biden has not been that happy since he heard Viagra will soon go generic.

Milton Friedman, the best economist of modern times, said, "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." Ironically, Friedman was from the Chicago school of economic thought, whose intellectual heft must battle the class-envy-driven Chicago school of politics practiced by Professor Barack Obama.

Freedom plays to the best of us, and it was the foundation of our country. Envy, forbidden in the Ten Commandments and one of the Seven Deadly Sins, plays to the worst in us. Obama rails against the productive members of society, implying that their success comes at the expense of others. This is divisive and worthy of contempt. Did Google expand its free search engine to the advantage or the detriment of those who didn't? Did Dr. Jonas Salk develop the polio vaccine to the detriment or advantage of someone who did not?

What Obama and the Democrats do not understand about business, since they almost all came up only through the political ranks and not the private sector, is that economics is not a zero-sum game. One person's success multiplies jobs and opportunity for many others. Obama thinks that if Apple succeeds, the company must have screwed someone over to do so. This plays to the worst in us, not the best.

It is easy and cheap politics to divide our country so that the unproductive 51% resent the productive 49 percent -- so you can get elected. Obama does it well. I hope Americans who work hard for a living are tiring of being taken advantage of by those Americans who vote for a living.

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In a recent Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans said the federal government is too big and powerful. Yet Obama wants to unilaterally circumvent the Constitution to make it bigger.

With 69 different government handout programs tied to "means testing" (costing taxpayers about $1 trillion a year), the dependent class has little incentive to work. If they earn some money, it puts them above the income levels where they can rake in all those government goodies from food, housing and health care to Obama-phones. Why work? They can sit at home watching "Judge Judy" and "Dr. Phil," make some nefarious and non-reportable cash on the side, and be better off.

Obama even raised Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the "poverty line," adding 30 million to the dole by 2022 and making his failed ObamaCare look like it insures more people. The incentive not to work has never been stronger.

A school program in D.C. paid kids $6 an hour to work at summer school, but it backfired on the Democrats. Once the kids got their W-2s and realized how much in taxes was taken out, they joined the Young Conservatives Club.

Obama's latest focus group on "income equality" has to be called what it is: the Socialist redistribution of income that grows government to the detriment of the economy.

What Obama does not say is that the top 20 percent of income earners is not a static group of monocled, top hat-clad, Monopoly-guy types. It is an ever-changing group of people. What he should talk about is economic mobility, not equality.

We have just fallen out of the top ten countries in the Index of Economic Freedom for the first time. "Economic equality" is code for redistribution. The real problem is broken families, the poverty they create, and the lack of economic opportunity.

Washington has made it so that Home Depot's Bernie Marcus, Papa John's founder John Schnatter, and just recently Erik Prince, ex-Navy SEAL security entrepreneur, have said they could not have started their businesses today. Mr. Prince, who has moved his business to Hong Kong, said "I would rather deal with the vagaries of investing in Africa than in figuring out what the hell else Washington is going to do to the entrepreneur next."

It is easy to lavish other people's tax money on people in order to stay in power. It's much harder to stand on principle and make the hard decisions that are best for the country in the long-term.

Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator. Email Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com
 

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