Most observers on both Left and Right agree that a massive battle over the size, scope, and even nature of government is brewing. Over at the Washington Post, liberal robot E.J. Dionne explodes in a shower of sparks as he tries to process the magnitude of Republican Paul Ryan’s budget plan, whose “central purpose will not be deficit reduction, but the gradual dismantling of key parts of government.”
It’s hard to follow, but basically Dionne thinks this “dismantling” will not reduce the titanic deficit created by mad government spending, because Ryan will stuff all the money government isn’t spending into bags with big green dollar signs on the sides, and hand it out to evil rich people. No, not the people Barack Obama makes filthy rich, like Jeffrey Immelt and George Soros. Other rich people. Evil ones.
Dionne makes this remarkable and revealing statement: “Put the two parts of the Ryan design together – tax cuts for the rich, program cuts for the poor – and its radically redistributionist purposes become clear.” Behold the utter and complete intellectual poverty of the Left, which is reduced to arguing that allowing people to keep their own money, instead of seizing it by force and giving it to those our liberal betters find more deserving, is “redistribution.”
Securing our future requires the utter and complete defeat of this tired and venomous thinking. There is no way we can regain prosperity without rediscovering the concept of ownership. We must passionately reject the notion that our income and property are whatever the State sees fit to let us keep.
Our Gross Domestic Product has been growing at less than 3% for a while now. We’ll have to more than double that rate of growth to get unemployment back under control. We’d have to do substantially better than that to replace all the jobs lost during the past two years.
GDP growth requires a large and highly productive workforce, which also produces a thriving population of consumers and investors. The redistribution of wealth reduces the size and quality of the workforce, by pushing the “working poor” into dependency. Government regulations which increase the cost of labor naturally reduce hiring. Corporate and capital gains taxes devour the rewards of entrepreneurial risk. Bailouts and subsidies erode the very concept of risk..
Most insidious of all, the declining value of our education dollar decreases the quality of the workforce. Poor public school performance, the massive resources consumed by teachers’ unions, and the inflated cost of college tuition – produced by government interference with the financing of higher education – have all taken their toll. We get far less bang for our education bucks than we need. This must change, if powerful growth is to exist in our future. The existing public education system has proven time and again that it will never change.
We need one other, crucial ingredient for a prosperous future: young people. We have a rapidly aging population, partially due to the wonder of life-extending medicine, but also due to the evolution of a culture that does not encourage the formation of large, stable families. It’s tough to bring three or four kids into the world, and give them a good home. We need a lot of couples to do that, as a simple matter of demographic reality, in order to produce a growing population of young people.
That growth cannot occur primarily among the wards of a redistributionist State. Under such a system, people become a burden, red numbers on a spreadsheet that never adds up. The redistributed future would contain a dwindling workforce of young people, saddled with bills for previous decades of social spending they can never repay. They would be surrounded by growing populations of retirees, government workers, and welfare dependents they were expected to support.
No “explosive growth” would be possible in such a future. To build something better, free people must own their property, investments, businesses, education, and homes. Ownership implies responsibility, and that is a resource in short supply among the architects of a titanic government with a towering budget deficit, as they fill the air with witless chants of “radical” and “extremist” against those with the intelligence and courage to propose an alternative to catastrophe.
A prosperous future will be the sovereign property of the free men and women who build it. If redistribution by the State could have engineered prosperity, it would have done so long ago.