Like Karl Marx, Barack Obama is wedded to the concept of redistributing wealth, which when stripped of the rhetorical subterfuge means taking money from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not earned it. At some point the concept of merit has gotten lost in the debates over the redistribution of wealth. Instead, the argument now hinges on the dubious concept of “fairness.” Refuting the president’s philosophy of redistributing wealth irrespective of merit is an easy task that is supported by history, facts, logic, and common sense. This is why the left quickly resorts to character assassination and name calling when trying to defend Obama’s illogical Marxist principle. What else can they do?
In a recent article, Thomas Sowell said: “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago, and a racist today.” And so those of us who believe in a merit-based economy and personal responsibility find ourselves labeled “racists” irrespective of our individual races.
Unfortunately for President Obama and his comrades on the left, many of the so-called “racists” who oppose his Marxist policies are outspoken, articulate conservatives who also happen to be successful black Americans. Prominent among these outspoken conservatives are Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Allen West, and an individual who is emerging as one of the most articulate spokesmen extant for traditional American values: Dr. Ben Carson, the world-renowned neurosurgeon.
In his latest book, AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great, Dr. Carson—a man who had to overcome both debilitating racism and grinding poverty to become an internationally known healer—takes on some of the most cherished principles of the left. In responding to President Obama’s wrong-headed views on the redistribution of wealth, Dr. Carson writes: “Many like-minded capitalists make enormous contributions to the well-being of our society…In the process they create jobs for other people. In fact, small businesses create 80 percent of the private sector jobs in this country…those with a better understanding of how capitalism works felt…that it would be a huge mistake to impose higher taxes on the very people who create the majority of private sector jobs. If you continually punish those who are economically successful through higher and higher taxes, at some point you extinguish the desire to work hard, since they will be working harder for a smaller return and their profits will increasingly go to the government.”
Carson continues: “The Constitution is quite clear that the government has the right to tax in order to support its programs, but there is nothing in the Constitution to support redistribution of wealth. As a society we need to be mature enough to recognize that the wealthy in this nation provide many opportunities for those who are not rich by creating jobs and paying taxes.” Carson goes on to explain that the top 50 percent of wage earners in America pay 97 percent of the taxes.
It is going to be difficult for Barack Obama’s supporters on the left to label Dr. Carson a “racist” for espousing views that run counter theirs. Before attempting this unworthy strategy, they should read his book, particularly the chapter where he explains that one of the lessons he learned as a youngster was that no race holds a monopoly on racism.
Americans know how to use the moving van to escape high taxes. By Laffer and Moore
With states facing nearly $100 billion in combined budget deficits this year, we're seeing more governors than ever proposing the Barack Obama solution to balancing the budget: Soak the rich. Lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon want to raise income tax rates on the top 1% or 2% or 5% of their citizens. New Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn wants a 50% increase in the income tax rate on the wealthy because this is the "fair" way to close his state's gaping deficit.
Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.
Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies -- old and new -- have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses.
More recently, Barry W. Poulson of the University of Colorado last year examined many factors that explain why some states grew richer than others from 1964 to 2004 and found "a significant negative impact of higher marginal tax rates on state economic growth." In other words, soaking the rich doesn't work. To the contrary, middle-class workers end up taking the hit.
Finally, there is the issue of whether high-income people move away from states that have high income-tax rates. Examining IRS tax return data by state, E.J. McMahon, a fiscal expert at the Manhattan Institute, measured the impact of large income-tax rate increases on the rich ($200,000 income or more) in Connecticut, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 5% from 4.5%; in New Jersey, which raised its rate in 2004 to 8.97% from 6.35%; and in New York, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 7.7% from 6.85%. Over the period 2002-2005, in each of these states the "soak the rich" tax hike was followed by a significant reduction in the number of rich people paying taxes in these states relative to the national average. Amazingly, these three states ranked 46th, 49th and 50th among all states in the percentage increase in wealthy tax filers in the years after they tried to soak the rich.
This result was all the more remarkable given that these were years when the stock market boomed and Wall Street gains were in the trillions of dollars. Examining data from a 2008 Princeton study on the New Jersey tax hike on the wealthy, we found that there were 4,000 missing half-millionaires in New Jersey after that tax took effect. New Jersey now has one of the largest budget deficits in the nation.
Those who disapprove of tax competition complain that lower state taxes only create a zero-sum competition where states "race to the bottom" and cut services to the poor as taxes fall to zero. They say that tax cutting inevitably means lower quality schools and police protection as lower tax rates mean starvation of public services.
They're wrong, and New Hampshire is our favorite illustration. The Live Free or Die State has no income or sales tax, yet it has high-quality schools and excellent public services. Students in New Hampshire public schools achieve the fourth-highest test scores in the nation -- even though the state spends about $1,000 a year less per resident on state and local government than the average state and, incredibly, $5,000 less per person than New York. And on the other side of the ledger, California in 2007 had the highest-paid classroom teachers in the nation, and yet the Golden State had the second-lowest test scores.
Or consider the fiasco of New Jersey. In the early 1960s, the state had no state income tax and no state sales tax. It was a rapidly growing state attracting people from everywhere and running budget surpluses. Today its income and sales taxes are among the highest in the nation yet it suffers from perpetual deficits and its schools rank among the worst in the nation -- much worse than those in New Hampshire. Most of the massive infusion of tax dollars over the past 40 years has simply enriched the public-employee unions in the Garden State. People are fleeing the state in droves.
One last point: States aren't simply competing with each other. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently told us, "Our state is competing with Germany, France, Japan and China for business. We'd better have a pro-growth tax system or those American jobs will be out-sourced." Gov. Perry and Texas have the jobs and prosperity model exactly right. Texas created more new jobs in 2008 than all other 49 states combined. And Texas is the only state other than Georgia and North Dakota that is cutting taxes this year.