Hart: The myth of income equality

Hart: The myth of income equality

January 31st, 2014 By Ron Hart in Opinion Columns

Tuesday's State of the Union dress-down was another divisive, arrogant and partisan lecture by a failed president. I am glad four of the Supreme Court Justices stopped coming since Obama rudely attacked them.

Milton Friedman, the best economist of modern times, said, "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." Ironically, Friedman was from the Chicago school of economic thought, whose intellectual heft must battle the class-envy-driven Chicago school of politics practiced by Professor Barack Obama.

Freedom plays to the best of us, and it was the foundation of our country. Envy, forbidden in the Ten Commandments and one of the Seven Deadly Sins, plays to the worst in us. Obama rails against the productive members of society, implying that their success comes at the expense of others. This is divisive and worthy of contempt.

What Obama and the Democrats do not understand about business, since they almost all came up only through the political ranks and not the private sector, is that economics is not a zero-sum game. One person's success multiplies jobs and opportunity for many others.

It is easy and cheap politics to divide our country so that the unproductive 51 percent resent the productive 49 percent -- so you can get elected. Obama does it well. I hope Americans who work hard for a living are tiring of being taken advantage of by those Americans who vote for a living.

In a recent Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans said the federal government is too big and powerful. Yet Obama wants to unilaterally circumvent the Constitution to make it bigger.

With sixty-nine different government handout programs tied to "means testing" (costing taxpayers about $1 trillion a year), the dependent class has little incentive to work. If they earn some money, it puts them above the income levels where they can rake in all those government goodies from food, housing and health care to Obama-phones.

Obama even raised Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the "poverty line," adding 30 million to the dole by 2022 and making his failed Obamacare look like it insures more people. The incentive not to work has never been stronger.

Obama's latest focus group on "income equality" has to be called what it is: the Socialist redistribution of income that grows government to the detriment of the economy.

What Obama does not say is that the top 20 percent of income earners is not a static group of monocled, top hat-clad, Monopoly-guy types. It is an ever-changing group of people. What he should talk about is economic mobility, not equality.

"Economic equality" is code for redistribution. The real problem is broken families, the poverty they create, and the lack of economic opportunity.

Washington has made it so that Home Depot's Bernie Marcus, Papa John's founder John Schnatter, and just recently Erik Price, ex-Navy SEAL security entrepreneur, have said they could not have started their businesses today. Mr. Price, who has moved his business to Hong Kong, said "I would rather deal with the vagaries of investing in Africa than in figuring out what the hell else Washington is going to do to the entrepreneur next."

It is easy to lavish other people's tax money on people in order to stay in power. It's much harder to stand on principle and make the hard decisions that are best for the country in the long-term.

Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com.