Envy is sadness or discontent at another’s good fortune or excellence. Dante defined it as a perversion of one’s own good; a “wish to deprive” others of their own good. Augustine deemed it “the diabolical sin.”
Conservative columnist George Will quips that envy is the most miserable of the deadly sins because it brings not even fleeting pleasure.
No, envy simply makes you downright miserable and angry, at best providing perverse pleasure only when your prosperous neighbor suddenly suffers misfortune—or, in current application, when the federal government forcibly takes an even larger chunk of that neighbor’s money.
But what happens when a political party crafts its appeal around envy? Of course, the Democratic Party has been doing just that for a long time. When I was in my early 20s and apolitical, class-warfare rhetoric was one of the first things that struck me about the Democratic Party, and it was one of the first things that drove me away from the Democrats.
Now, class envy is back with renewed vigor under the presidency of Barack Obama. The rich are suddenly scapegoats for the nation’s fiscal/economic woes. Yes, that’s right—the rich. It is an amazing spectacle. Consider:
Did you know that from 1965-2009 the federal government never, not one time, cut annual spending? Yep, not once—not even by one penny one single year over 44 consecutive years. If you don’t believe me, consult the historical tables of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Look at Table 1.1, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits: 1789-2016.” You’ll notice that once upon a time our nation’s political officials were capable of cutting spending. It happened often under both Democrats and Republicans. That changed, however, in 1965, the start of LBJ’s Great Society. In that watershed year, our federal government began an outright spending addiction, like a junkie who can’t push away a needle.
To see the figures on a chart is an awakening. The annual rise in spending by your government is a steady, unbroken, upward climb for over 40 years.
Apply this to any other walk of life. Do you know of an individual or family or business or anything that has spent more money than it takes in for 44 consecutive years? If you’ve done that, then you’re reading this article from a prison cell.
And yet, that is precisely the behavior of your federal government, which passes along this generational debt to your children and grandchildren.
But who’s at fault? The Democrats and President Obama have an easy answer; it’s the envy-based answer: the rich.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."