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Liberty Lost on the Left

Monday, April 11, 2011


Recently on Channel 10 News Conference, Governor Chafee’s budget director Thomas Mullaney justified the Governor’s proposed tax hikes on the basis of modern “stimulus theory” – an economic practice that shuffles your money in and out of the government in an attempt to spark economic activity. A key component to what is often referred to as “Keynesian” economics, “spreading the wealth around” is a popular routine within progressive and Democratic circles.

When confronted with the objection of taking even more money out of the private sector (that thing that funds the government), Mullaney responded, “That money we collect, we are going to be spending. And we’re paying employees. We’re paying suppliers of, you know, goods and services that the state uses. We’re paying providers. So that money is right back into the society…It’s going out into the private sector. We’re paying employees who go out and spend.”

Marxist economics

Governor Chafee managed to say something, too: “We are investing in the future.”

One glaring problem with stimulus plans is that, in order for government bureaucrats to spend money, they first have to take the money from someone else, who will no longer be able to spend it himself. This often leads practitioners of common sense to conclude that stimulus spending, at best, is a zero-sum activity. And, at worst, it is the arbitrary and tyrannical confiscation of property. It’s Marxist. It’s un-American.

But we’re talking about progressives and Democrats here. Common sense and concerns over liberty don’t factor into the equation.

Whenever people get tired of Democrats insisting that millions of people will be dying in the streets if government subsidies are scaled back, Democrats are forced to resort to explaining their absurd economic rationales. Last year, Nancy Pelosi defended the Democrats’ national welfare state by explaining, "It is the biggest bang for the buck when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance.” She went on to say that for every dollar a person receives in food stamps, $1.79 is put back into the economy. Figure that one out!

Yo, man, gimme a dollah! Trust me, I’m gonna double yo’ money by spending it at the grocery store!

Democratic scam

Don’t laugh. For decades, millions of Americans have actually fallen for this Democratic scam, at great cost to our national prosperity. And, unfortunately, it seems the entire Chafee Administration is hell-bent on further bamboozling Rhode Islanders out of their money.

Last week, Governor Chafee sent his Director of Administration, Richard Licht, to appear on Channel 10 News Conference. Reporter Jim Taricani posited the same question that was offered to Mullaney weeks earlier, asking, “[The tax hikes are] going to take…an excess of $100 million out of the economy. How does that help economic development in this state?”

Licht responded, “Any way you solve it, it’s taking money out of the economy…through cuts or increased revenue.”

Here the public was offered another glimpse into the collective mind of the Chafee Administration. According to Chafee’s top administrator, avoiding taxation by enacting government spending cuts will have the exact same economic impact as hiking taxes in order to support current spending levels.

How does Licht rationalize such a claim? With more nonsensical stimulus theory.

Licht explained, “The way to take [money] out of government is probably to lay off a lot of state workers. That means that those people who don’t have jobs may not be spending at their local businesses. And that’ll have an impact.”

Someone needs to inform Mr. Licht that the money used to pay government employees is taken from other Rhode Islanders who create wealth in the private sector. There is no extra “stimulus” provided by redistributing funds between neighbors. No matter what Nancy Pelosi says, $1 does not equal $1.79.

Progressive Fascism

In addition to the deep flaws involved with Keynesian theory, in order for one to subscribe to it one must be willing to exert an appalling amount of control over the lives of others.

Mullaney provided a specimen of the progressive nerve when he justified the tax-and-spend process by lamenting people’s tendency to – gasp! – save their own money! “The people who we might be taking [money] from,” Mullaney said, “they might be saving that money, and not spending it. You know, pretty much all the money we collect, you know, we pretty much spend.”

Quick! Take their hard-earned money before they put it in the bank!

It might disturb some people to discover that progressives don’t think putting money in the bank qualifies as “spending.” Somehow, they’re still under the childhood impression that the bank puts their cash in a personal shoebox for them somewhere in the back.

More frightening, however, is the fact that if progressives believe they can spend your money in ways that benefit society to a greater extent than your own desired spending practices, then they consider themselves to be in possession of a moral right to confiscate your property in order to do so.

Progressive government should horrify the average American. Because it takes a fascist to enforce it.

At every turn, we continue to find that progressives and Democrats have no idea how to nurture a free society. Entirely lost on them are the laws of incentive and the principles of economic liberty that made this country great.

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Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is Chairman of the RI Young Republicans and author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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