Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On Takers and Makers

The Founders recognized that there would always be separate economic interests in society. The many who are poor would, because it is in their economic interest, desire a government that is responsive to the needs of the poor. The few who are wealthy, because it is in their economic interest, desire a government that does not tax them on their long-term capital gains. Thus, to be clear, the Founders saw moral equivalence between these economic interests. Both the wealthy and the poor are seeking their own advantage, when, ideally, they would put aside their separate interests and think about what is good for the country as a whole. 

From the Founders' perspective, there are no "takers" other than those whose fortunes depend on unproductive wealth. That is, the kind of wealth that neither stimulates nor results from the production of necessary things that improve the country and the welfare of its citizens. 

I mention this because of the lingering nausea created by Mr. Romney's speech about the 47% who churlishly feel entitled to food and a means of enjoying a basic subsistence. Since then, Rush Limbaugh derided Obama supporters as children seeking gifts from Santa Claus. John Sununu has sneered at the "dependent" segments of society. Stuart Stevens, after describing Obama's coalition of the poor and ethnic minorities, found pride in Mr. Romney's defeat, saying, "Yes, the Republican party has problems, but as we go forward, let's remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right." 

But for all that, it is true that the democrats are just as guilty of "class warfare." Their winning coalition did, in fact, consist of Americans who are motivated by their separate economic interests. One could imagine a scenario in which, if they had no Republican opposition whatever to keep them in check, rank-and-file democrats would advocate for an expansion of the "welfare state," and in their fervor, perhaps they would indulge in a binge of taxing and spending. Now, I am not taking a position on the merits of the "welfare state." There are things that this country ought to be doing for its most disadvantaged members. Instead, I am suggesting that there is a desperate need for a party that is willing to advocate for the public interest. 

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