Peter Wehner looks at two recent statements of leftist economic principles from Michael Moore and Robert Reich that are remarkably honest and revealing.
First from Michael Moore:
“They’re sitting on the money, they’re using it for their own — they’re putting it someplace else with no interest in helping you with your life, with that money. We’ve allowed them to take that. That’s not theirs, that’s a national resource, that’s ours. We all have this — we all benefit from this or we all suffer as a result of not having it,” Michael Moore told Laura Flanders of GRITtv.
“I think we need to go back to taxing these people at the proper rates. They need to — we need to see these jobs as something we some, that we collectively own as Americans and you can’t just steal our jobs and take them someplace else,” Moore concluded.
And from Robert Reich:
…so many middle-class people, lower middle-class people, working-class people, are frustrated. They are anxious, they worry about paying their bills. They see people at the very top getting away with, well, the equivalent of murder: look at what happened on Wall Street. There’s not a single Wall Streeter that’s actually been indicted or brought to justice after that huge implosion on Wall Street. And people get cynical and they get angry.
And then they see, uh, Republicans are very good at channeling that anger toward what? Government, immigrants, public employees. Well, an angry population and an angry populace could just as easily turn their anger toward the very rich. Again, it is in the interest of the people at the top to actually call for a more equitable distribution of the gains of economic growth and a better tax system: a tax system that is fair.
Wehner analyzes these statements well:
If you listen to both men, you’ll gain a fairly good insight into the modern liberal worldview.
It consists of several elements. The first, as articulated by Moore, is that money you earn is not really yours; it’s a “natural resource” that belongs to others. That is the basic starting point for those like Moore. Second, the collectivist impulse among the left is extremely powerful. Third, higher taxes have almost talisman-like powers. Regardless of our economic circumstances — whether we’re experiencing strong growth or a nasty recession — higher taxes are always called for. Fourth, liberals view higher taxes first and foremost as a matter of “fairness” rather than growth. One cannot help but conclude that many liberals would accept lower growth rates and fewer jobs in favor of more redistribution of income. And fifth, America is a nation seething with class resentments. “An angry population and an angry populace could just as easily turn their anger toward the very rich,” according to Reich. “Again, it is in the interest of the people at the top to actually call for a more equitable distribution of the gains of economic growth and a better tax system: a tax system that is fair.”
I would add that Moore justifies theft, whereas Reich justifies paying protection money to keep the thieving mob from attacking. Moore is the more consistent and radical leftist: he wants the state to take wealth from the rich. Reich seems to want to maintain some facade of decency by having the rich sacrifice their wealth instead of outright appropriation by a state acting to soothe the anger of the masses.
There is an emotion at work in the statements of both Moore and Reich, the ugly emotion of envy. Moore’s statement drips with outright hatred of the wealthy. Reich wants the wealthy to buy protection from the envious mob.
Why is it that sophisticates and moderates are shocked when we call these leftists the socialists that they are? Democrats are socialists, but it’s considered bad form to say so. To say the truth in America today is to risk being smeared as an “extremist.”
Wehner goes on to compare their statements with an excellent passage from Lincoln that I’m surprised I had never before read. (Read the whole thing.) But then, considering that the left has written the history books for the last century, I shouldn’t be surprised.
As Wehner notes, the contrast between these leftists and Lincoln is that of the equality of outcome vs. equality of opportunity. Equality of outcome — egalitarianism — is the lever by which the left is moving the world. Wehner thinks more Americans would agree with Lincoln; I’m not so sure at this point. But I do believe that if egalitarianism can be discredited by the new intellectuals, then restoring limited government will follow with ease.