Millionaires and Billionaires

Cal Thomas

7/11/2011 12:01:00 AM - Cal Thomas
"Nothing succeeds like success" -- Alexandre Dumas, 1802-1870

If new millionaires or billionaires were created every time President Obama and his fellow liberals disparage "millionaires and billionaires," there would be far more of them than there are today. And that would be a good thing because it would mean more people are succeeding.

This president, more than any other in my lifetime, seems determined to punish and discourage success and the hard work, risk-taking and values by which one must live in order to attain it. He blasts people who fly on private planes, though he flies on Air Force One, the ultimate private plane, which taxpayers pay for. He doesn't like yachts, or specifically the people who can afford to buy them. And yet the people who make the private planes and yachts have jobs precisely because others have achieved a level of success that enables them to afford such luxury.

Recall during the George H.W. Bush administration when congressional Democrats persuaded Bush to sign a bill increasing the luxury tax on yachts in exchange for a promise -- later broken -- to reduce spending. The result was fewer people bought yachts, boat builders were laid off and Congress later repealed the tax hike. Don't liberal Democrats ever learn economic principles, or does their class warfare trump all else?

People who envy the successful won't receive any of the money higher taxes might bring in. Congress will spend it long before it "trickles down" to the poor and even if the poor did get some of the largesse from the wealthy, when the money runs out they would likely remain poor because their attitude toward "entitlements," rather than wealth building would remain unchanged. Isn't that the story of the failed welfare system? Welfare mostly subsidizes people in poverty, helping few escape from it.

In their hearts, most people who are poor would like to be rich, or at least self-sustaining, but this president never talks about how they might achieve that goal. Instead, he criticizes those who made the right choices and now enjoy the fruits of their labor. Rather than use successful people as examples for the poor to follow, the president seeks to punish the rich with higher taxes and more regulations on their businesses.

President Calvin Coolidge, who is receiving another look by some historians, said in 1919, "The great aim of our government is to protect the weak, to aid them to become strong." See the difference? President Obama apparently thinks the weak and poor can never become strong and rich without government, though government has a poor track record of aiding people in either endeavor.

Another Coolidgeism: "Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong."

Pulling down the strong seems to preoccupy this administration and congressional Democrats. Is that unfair? Where, then, can one find a champion of achievement, risk-taking and capitalism among the Democratic leadership? Many of them are rich; they just don't want too many of the rest of us to become rich. If we do, we might not need government, or them. And we might just vote Republican.

There is something deeply repulsive, even un-American, about this war on achievers. We once held them in higher regard because they built and sustained the nation. What do the unsuccessful produce?

Wealth is a sign of achievement, a reward for risks taken. And being poor is not a crime, unless those in poverty refuse to strive to overcome it.

That's the message this president should be broadcasting, not one that trashes success and promotes class division and envy of the successful.