Victor Davis Hanson

Perhaps Treasury Secretary-designate Jack Lew should have a look at Facebook's tax contortions. He should be familiar with the big-money paper trail, given that Lew himself took a nearly $1 million bonus from Citigroup after it had received billions of dollars in federal funds to cover its gargantuan losses.

Lew, like his tax-dodging predecessor, Timothy Geithner, has a propensity for doing just the opposite of what the president used to preach against. Obama, remember, warned Wall Streeters not to take bonuses after their failing companies received federal money.

Obama also derided dubious offshore Cayman Islands tax shelters. Yet he apparently forgot to tell that to Lew, who invested in a fund registered to the same Potemkin Cayman Islands building that Obama had used as a campaign prop to bash the one-percenters.

One of the nation's best-known class warriors is former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Chicago, who for years has damned the wealthy for their ill-gotten gains. He is expected to plead guilty to fraud charges after he and his wife allegedly siphoned off $750,000 from their campaign accounts to pay for an assortment of one-percenter extravagances like a $43,000 Rolex watch.

Today's leftists like the high life as much as their demonized conservative rivals. The more they damn the bad "millionaires and billionaires," apparently the less guilt they feel about living it up in Palm Beach or Aspen, paying no taxes, offshoring their profits or wearing Rolex watches.

The vast growth of the federal government has splashed so much big money around New York and Washington that even muckraking progressives can't resist. Loud redistributionist rhetoric offers the necessary vaccination shot that makes privileged leftists immune from any criticism -- or guilt -- over indulging in tax avoidance, billion-dollar speculation or aristocratic tastes.

George Orwell long ago noticed the same thing, when in "Animal Farm" the pig elite loudly damned reactionary humans even as they sought to copy them by walking on two legs.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.