I cannot countenance raising taxes in the midst of a severe downturn.
“Feelings come and feelings go. And feelings are not facts.”
These were words I heard in one of the first 12-step meetings I ever went to. It was at noon Monday through Saturday in a disused junior high school in Point Dume, Malibu. The meeting was called “Spiritual Search,” after one of the 12 steps of the program, actually the eleventh step. I went to that first meeting about 23 years ago. They stunned me with their insightfulness then and now.
Those words have saved me from suicide many a time. In that same room I also heard the saying, “What happens to me is not very important. I am one of eight billion or so people on the planet and what happens to me is not terribly important.”
These thoughts and many other great 12-step thoughts are coming in handy today as I contemplate some mean comments made about me on TV. Here is what happened.
As you all know, I have parted from contemporary GOP orthodoxy innumerable times by calling for higher taxes on the genuinely rich, such as persons making more than $5 million per annum. This has gotten me gentle criticism by the supply-siders, but all within the bounds of decency.
However, I cannot countenance raising taxes in the midst of a severe downturn. Yes, we may have reached the trough, but we still have a long way to go to get back to where we were three years ago. So, why raise taxes? The Obama administration is explicitly for large scale deficit spending in good times and bad, so why raise taxes on anyone and counter the Keynesian deficit spending effect, if there is one? The stated reason is that the rich do not spend much of what they earn, but that’s a laugh riot. The rich spend every cent they earn as far as I can tell, except for the very top of the heap. The great Milton Friedman found that the marginal propensity to consume was consistently 100 percent and if he found that, it’s good enough for me.
Anyway, by general consensus, raising taxes in a slowdown is counter-stimulative, and if you don’t mind deficits (à la Mr. Obama ), then why raise taxes even on the rich? Is it just to punish the rich? And if so, what have the rich done wrong to merit this punishment? They tried to be successful. They employ other people. They give to charity. When did that become a crime?
So, I gave a little, good-natured commentary on this subject on the telly. I added that when good times returned — if they do — probably taxes on the well-to-do should be raised.
It made Bill Maher angry, but then he’s a difficult case always. So, I didn’t worry much about that. Anyway, he’s on HBO, which is a network I don’t watch.
But then this morning, a network with which I have an extremely close connection ran a piece about what a lump of dirt I am, how elitist and unpatriotic and greedy, for not wanting my taxes raised in a recession. It was spoken by an angry woman whom I don’t know, but who works for the Syfy Channel.
“Upset” is far too mild a word to describe how I felt. First, as I tell my readers endlessly, I am NOT rich. I make a good living, but I am not rich. Second, I give away to the less fortunate a truly insanely large part of what I do earn, and I am taxed to death on the rest. Third, while there are millions who are more patriotic than I am, a small bit of research would show I was at least above average in patriotism. Besides, I do not equate patriotism with having my taxes jacked up to pay off public employee unions.
Anyway, I was really upset.
But luckily, I got a lot of supportive mail, and that helped me. Plus, I lay in bed with my Brigid, my rapidly aging German short-haired pointer, and that helped. Finally, I went out and got a huge milkshake and wolfed it down, and that helped a lot.
I also heard in those 12-step rooms long ago that “enemies are often our best teachers…” I have no idea of who that woman is or why she took such a personal tack on a public policy issue. But she did ruin my morning without adding one iota to the debate on fiscal policy. From this, I will try to learn that words can wound, and that I should use them more carefully and more diplomatically, even when provoked. We have been given a great lesson in this world:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?