THE IRON PEN by Daniel Hite

October 28, 2011

Pie, anyone?

It seems like the prevailing thought today, and one that is certainly promulgated by the current administration in Washington, is that the so-called “economic pie” is fixed, and that there is just so much wealth in the world that when one group gets it, it is taken away from the others, therefore, wealth can only be accumulated at the expense of others. There isn’t a more socialistic view than this, and it couldn’t be more wrong. In a moral free enterprise system, wealth creates more wealth. Typically, accumulated assets are either spent or invested thus creating more jobs, goods and services and more capital investment, improvements, expansion and economic growth. The pie gets bigger! What government needs to do is to find ways to stimulate the growth of the pie, not how to redistribute its pieces. In most kitchen cupboards, you will find 8,9, or 10-inch pie pans. Who’s to say that we can’t have 11, 12, or even 13-inch pans? With today’s economic crisis, we need some good old Yankee ingenuity to get baking again…and making the pans bigger! America is in economic troubles, as well as the rest of the world economies. But America does not have to buy into the troubles that have plagued Europe and follow their path of failed socialized economic policies. America has always had a better idea, indeed exceptional ones. Our citizens and leaders must come together in the same entrepreneurial spirit and face this crisis with stern optimism.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke this week at the Heritage Foundation about saving the American idea. Here is a principled Congressman who thinks and then acts accordingly. May God increase his tribe in Congress! Here are some of his comments regarding economic “class warfare” in America:

…the President is barnstorming swing states, pushing a divisive message that pits one group of Americans against another on the basis of class.

This just won’t work in America. Class is not a fixed designation in this country. We are an upwardly mobile society with a lot of movement between income groups.

The Treasury Department’s latest study on income mobility in America found that during the ten-year period starting in 1996, roughly half of the taxpayers who started in the bottom 20 percent had moved up to a higher income group by 2005.

Meanwhile, half of all taxpayers ended up in a different income group at the end of ten years. Many moved up, and some moved down, but economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most people over this period.

Another recent survey of over 500 successful entrepreneurs found that 93 percent came from middle-class or lower-class backgrounds. The majority were the first in their families to launch a business.

Their stories are the American story: Millions of immigrants fled from the closed societies of the Old World to the security of equal rights in this land of upward mobility.

Telling Americans they are stuck in their current station in life, that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control, and that government’s role is to help them cope with it – well, that’s not who we are. That’s not what we do.

Our Founding Fathers rejected this mentality. In societies marked by class structure, an elite class made up of rich and powerful patrons supplies the needs of a large client underclass that toils, but cannot own. The unfairness of closed societies is the kindling for class warfare, where the interests of “capital” and “labor” are perpetually in conflict. What one class wins, the other loses.

The legacy of this tradition can still be seen in Europe today: Top-heavy welfare states have replaced the traditional aristocracies, and masses of the long-term unemployed are locked into the new lower class.

The United States was destined to break out of this bleak history. Our future would not be staked on traditional class structures, but on civic solidarity. Gone would be the struggle of class against class.

Instead, Americans would work, compete, and co-operate in an open market, climb the ladder of opportunity, and keep the fruits of their efforts.

Self-government and the rule of law would secure our equal, God-given rights. Our political and economic systems – rooted in freedom and responsibility – would reward, and thus cultivate, traditional virtues.

Given that the President’s policies have moved us closer to the European model, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that his class-based rhetoric has followed suit.

We shouldn’t be surprised… but we have every right to be disappointed. Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy, and resentment.

This has the potential to be just as damaging as his misguided policies. Sowing social unrest and class resentment makes America weaker, not stronger. Pitting one group against another only distracts us from the true sources of inequity in this country – corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless.

…These actions starkly highlight the difference between the two parties that lies at the heart of the matter:  Whether we are a nation that still believes in equality of opportunity, or whether we are moving away from that, and towards an insistence on equality of outcome.

If you believe in the former, you follow the American Idea that justice is done when we level the playing field at the starting line, and rewards are proportionate to merit and effort.

If you believe in the latter kind of equality, you think most differences in wealth and rewards are matters of luck or exploitation, and that few really deserve what they have.

That’s the moral basis of class warfare – a false morality that confuses fairness with redistribution, and promotes class envy instead of social mobility.

I’d like to introduce President Obama to the Ronald Reagan he isn’t so eager to quote – the man who said, “Since when do we in America believe that our society is made up of two diametrically opposed classes – one rich, one poor – both in a permanent state of conflict and neither able to get ahead except at the expense of the other? Since when do we in America accept this alien and discredited theory of social and class warfare? Since when do we in America endorse the politics of envy and division?”

President Reagan was absolutely right. Instead of policies that make it harder for Americans to rise, let’s lower the hurdles to upward mobility.

That’s what the American Idea is all about. You know, in the midst of all the joys and sorrows of our everyday lives, I think we sometimes forget why America was considered such an exceptional nation at its Founding, and why it remains so.

To me, the results of the Founders’ exceptional vision can be summed up in a single sentence: Throughout human history, the American Idea has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed.

Americans, guided by our ideals, have sacrificed everything to combat tyranny and brutal dictators; we’ve expanded opportunity, opened markets, and inspired others to resist oppression; we’ve exported innovation and imagination; and we’ve welcomed immigrants seeking a fresh start.

Here in America – unlike most places on earth – all citizens have the right to rise.

(Congressman Ryan’s address can be seen and read in toto at:
http://blog.heritage.org/2011/10/26/video-rep-paul-ryan-on-saving-the-american-idea)

As we once again approach our historic Thanksgiving holidays, we need to be reminded that God is the source of our wealth and the wisdom to create it (Deuteronomy 8:18). He is to be thanked as the Founder of the feast. With regard to our economic concerns, I believe if we humble ourselves in repentance and prayerfully seek His face, He will hear our prayers and heal our land. Our Founding Fathers understood this and, seeking Divine Providence, formulated the American way based on the Biblical way. Doing it God’s way, there will be enough pie for everyone.

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