The Madness of a Twisted Faith

Katrina vanden Heuvel reminds us of the Left's sad economic illiteracy.

Those of us who let our subscription to The Nation lapse 20 years ago would do well to read that magazine’s editor Katrina vanden Heuvel’s article ‘An Undeserved Win for the GOP’, published in the Wall Street Journal, Friday, November 5. It’s a refreshing reminder of all of the economic illiteracy that the Left is capable of.

No one on the right believes that the November 2010 election represented a triumph for the establishment country-club Republican Party (which Ronald Reagan himself defeated in 1980).  It was a revolt by independents, Tea Partiers and other citizens who are outraged at the out-of-control spending, mounting public debt and chronically high unemployment.

We can concede vanden Heuvel’s assertion that “The election was fundamentally about one thing—the rotten economy.” But the awakened voters perceived the Democrats – dominating both houses of Congress and the White House – as responsible for prolonging and amplifying the problems, and of being hostages to the socialist Left. Not being resigned to achieving only third-party irrelevancy, these voters put the Republicans on notice that they would get a second chance, provided they return to the principles they had slothfully abandoned when the perks of power became too comfortable to bear.

Given the limits of space, it will be impossible to do justice to the dissection of this dead frog in a single article. So let’s consider just one gem for now:

“For 30 years, these Americans have seen their incomes stagnate as the top 1% accrued a staggering percentage of the nation's wealth.”

This kind of platitude would have impressed some of us into indignation when we were 17, but an adult may fairly ask: what does that even mean?

‘For 30 years’ is a period during which the parties in power in the executive and legislative branches of our constitutionally divided government were exchanged several times and government spending as a percentage of GDP grew from 34% to 44% (7 of those points in the last 2 years alone – who’s responsible for that?).

As to income stagnation, here are a couple of facts:

  • Real hourly compensation in America, including non-wage benefits, increased 41% on average from 1973 to 2007, and 23% from 1991 to 2007.
  • Over the past 40 years or so, median US household income has increased 20%, from about $40,000 per year to about $50,000. The average size of a household was 3.2 people in 1967; 2.6 people today.

Ms. vanden Heuvel waxes indignant about the ‘top 1%’.  The top 1% of income earners pay 40% of the taxes. Does she take offense at that? Does she acknowledge that the actual human beings who earn any level of income in any given year are different people each year, NOT permanent hereditary classes of the same people?

How did the top 1% ‘accrue’ all that wealth? Could it possibly be that they earned it – created and produced it?  And what do those filthy capitalists do with their ill-gotten gains? Why, they save it, spend it and invest it, presumably without regard for human needs or social responsibility. But somehow, human needs get met better under capitalism than under any other system, because there is no way, under a free-market regime, without privilege or prejudice, to earn profits consistently over the long term without meeting human needs; the needs of workers for jobs, the need of customers for the most valuable products and services at the lowest price, and the need of investors (such as workers with 401Ks and consumers looking for something better to do with their money than consume it) for opportunities to increase their wealth and retirement income.

Still, it’s not fair, right? The rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer, as the Left tells us today, as they told us 30 years ago and 60 years before that.  With such a compound effect over such a long period of time, the United States should be the world’s most oppressive place to live for anyone other than George Soros by now. So why in the world does everyone in the world – especially the poor – seem to want to come here? What is the immigration controversy about?

The Left, in their bone marrow, cannot admit that capitalism and the United States have lifted more people out of poverty both in percentages and absolute numbers than any other system or nation ever in the history of the world.