9-24-15 – The Inequality Czar

by Chris Campion

Bernie Sanders is pretty consistent on a few things.  He’s consistently wrong about policy and economics, but he’s also consistent in his messaging.  His current inequality message sells because it puts the responsibility on someone else for things that haven’t gone right, or for things that have gone wrong in peoples’ lives.  It’s a form of absolution.  A cheap form.

In Bernie’s World, taxes are more like a tithe attached to the evil 1% to atone for their sins of earning more money than someone else.  So if you get a second job to earn more money, well, you’re becoming more unequal in the Sainted Eyes of Bernie.  Now you must render more unto Caesar.  Even if you’re earning more because you’re working 60 hours a week versus someone else working 40, well, those additional 20 hours you decided to work aren’t yours to keep in the first place, when everything and everyone belongs to the State.

Bernie waded deeply into Liberty University recently to give more of his hard-earned opinions on how to fix the horribleness of America, a place so fetid and unequal that millions of people want to leave their home countries to come here, and risk their lives in doing so.  Let’s let Bernie’s magical words speak for themselves:

There is no justice, and I want you to hear this clearly, when the top one-tenth of 1 percent — not 1 percent, the top one-tenth of 1 percent — today in America owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. And in your hearts, you will have to determine the morality of that, and the justice of that.

I hate to break this to Bernie, but there is nothing – zero – in the Constitution about allocating powers to the US Senate to dispense economic

Hey, what's another $9 trillion saddled onto the unborn?

“justice”, a term so broadly based and Orwellian that it’s laughable on its face.  A Congressman telling us about justice, while he sits atop almost 19 trillion in debt, 8 trillion of which was accumulated in just the last 7 years or so, means he is unconcerned with the debt he’s saddling future Americans with who never got a vote on it.  Bernie has participated in the doubling of our nation’s debt in the shortest window in history – and wants to double it again!  As others have repeatedly stated, there’s not enough national income to tax to cover that kind of spending, let alone double the existing debt and debt payments.

And what happens when interest rates go up?  The percentage of the budget that goes to interest payments skyrockets, crowding out spending on everything else.  One of the many risks inherent in massive debt leveraging.

Bernie’s selling of injustice has the happy by-product of keeping him in his cozy, swaddled gig, where he gets paid – by the half of the country that pays net income taxes – to tell people that they’re earning too much money, and how much, when, and where he shall dispense with the income they have earned.

But if we’re going to talk about income inequality, we also have to talk about tax inequality.  Basically, because Bernie believes in a very progressive tax structure, he’s saying that the government values people with higher earnings at a higher level than those people who earn less.  The tax code does not treat people equally.  It specifically treats them unequally, by design.  An inequality that Bernie himself wants to increase, and has gone so far as to float the idea of resurrecting the 90% income tax.

Bernie continues:

In my view, there is no justice, when here, in Virginia and Vermont and all over this country, millions of people are working long hours for abysmally low wages of $7.25 an hour, of $8 an hour, of $9 an hour, working hard, but unable to bring in enough money to adequately feed their kids.

Here’s a thought:  If you can only earn $8 an hour, don’t have kids, because you can’t afford them.  Secondly, the bulk of people who work minimum-wage positions or slightly above are teenagers or part-time workers, not people who are relying on that wage as their only source of income.

But to take his inequality pretzel to the next level:  If I work 60 hours per week at two jobs for $10 an hour, and earn more money than the person who works 40 hours per week at $10 an hour, are we unequal in terms of income?  Yes.  So by Bernie’s logic, that additional $200 I would earn at my second job would need to be re-distributed to the people who only work 40 hours.

Where, in this roiling miasma of envy, does the motivation to work more go?  Does motivation to work that second job increase, or decrease?  By this reckoning, why would anyone want to improve their educations to go get a higher-paying job?  Get additional training?  Better their skillsets?  Why, when there is no reward for your hard work?

A better question, which cuts to the core of the inequality issue:  Is all labor of equal value?  Is the labor of someone working at a fast food joint equal to the labor of a doctor?  If they both work 40 hours per week, shouldn’t they be paid the same, if income equality is the goal?

The reason they are not paid the same is because people are different, and provide different skillsets at work, and some work is more unique and more difficult than others.  The doctor can walk into a fast food joint and be flipping burgers on day one, but the burger-flipper cannot perform a triple bypass, and 100 million people can be taught how to flip burgers but there’s less than 1 million doctors.

To put this in real terms, would you be willing to receive treatment from a doctor who was paid $10 an hour?

Oh, that's right - of the half of the country that pays income taxes, the top 50% pays 97.7% of all income taxes collected. I agree that this is completely unequal - what is the 2.3% *doing* all day?

But to deconstruct Bernie’s meme a bit further, let’s take a look at the data about who pays what in terms of incomes taxes in the US.  Hint:  It’s not the 99%.  It’s the 97.7%-ers:

Note that the number of returns is roughly half the population, and yes, I know that that includes joint returns, but a significant portion of the country doesn’t even file.

And even given that, almost 100% of the income tax revenues come from the top  50% of earners.  Not on the backs of the poor or downtrodden, as Bernie likes to claim.

Finally, since we’re speaking (endlessly) of inequality, Bernie’s wife, Jane Sanders, strapped on a $200,000 golden parachute while quitting her job at Burlington College.  I assume that that $200,000 in income was equally distributed among those who earn less in the Burlington area?  Of courseBernie and Jane gave this additional income away to those who really needed it, right, under the auspices of equality and justice?

Let’s take a look at how that might have worked out:

Now you can *totally* feel the Bern!

So it looks like Bernie and Jane’s re-distribution plans would net local Burlingtonians something equivalent to a latte’.  Once.  Per person.

Maybe it’s time to stop feeling the Bern and throw some cold water on his false narratives, always “argued” in a vacuum.  When the numbers are actually trotted out, Bernie’s “burn” fizzles out – but as he’s demonstrated, you don’t have to be right to win an election.  You just have to find enough people to believe that they a) deserve something for nothing, b) rich people are keeping them down, and c) the only way forward is to elect people who promise them both (a) and (b).

Bernie has never stopped promising both  (a) and (b), because it works for him, every time – which probably says something about Americans more than it does about a carpetbagger from Brooklyn.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Bulmer September 26, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Bernies greatest strength relies on generalities. Remember well during his campaign for his run for the Senate at a debate at the law school in Randolph. His opponent, a highly successful business man, talked at lenght with many specifics about his approach to the then hot topic, health care. I can still hear Bernies rebuttal, ” I’m for the little guy”.His fans went bezerk, I just shook my head. Bernie, much like Trump, is a bag of wind.

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Robert September 27, 2015 at 1:59 pm

The comparison of Sanders to Trump doesn’t hold water. In his entire life, Bernie has accomplished exactly nothing. He’s produced nothing. His legacy? Nothing. Trump has amassed an economic empire creating thousands of jobs. Whatever one may think of Trump, he typically accomplishes more in a month than Bernie will in his entire life.

Bernie’s genius has been in leveraging himself into a no-lose situation. His vehicle for success is merely class warfare, which he uses consistently to keep lower income people agitated and restless. Then he goes to Washington, helps increase the debt to unfathomable proportions and blames on Republicans.

It’s shocking that anyone can’t see that Bernie angrily opposes everything that made America great, and as the author noted, makes people willing to risk their lives to come here. You have to shake your head when voters choose Sanders and his lame socialist rhetoric over a man like Rich Tarrant who created thousands of high-paying jobs for Vermonters.

Neither Mr. Sanders nor any left-wing progressive will ever be able to change the fact that some humans simply have more motivation to succeed than others. But there’s no doubt that Sanders and his ilk will continue to capitalize on that fact.

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