At a Senate Budget Committee hearing last week, Sen. Robert Byrd, who was named after a bridge in West Virginia, viciously attacked Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill for having made a success of himself. Claiming to speak for worthless layabouts, Byrd snippily informed O'Neill: "They're not CEOs of multibillion-dollar corporations. ... In time of need, they come to us, the people come to us."
Evidently what the people-in-need are asking for is a lot of federal projects named after Senator Byrd.
Some items funded by taxpayers – but still somehow named after "Robert C. Byrd" – are: The Robert C. Byrd Highway; the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam; the Robert C. Byrd Institute; the Robert C. Byrd Life Long Learning Center; the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program; the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope; the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing; the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse; the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center; the Robert C. Byrd Academic and Technology Center; the Robert C. Byrd United Technical Center; the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building; the Robert C. Byrd Drive; the Robert C. Byrd Hilltop Office Complex; the Robert C. Byrd Library; the Robert C. Byrd Learning Resource Center; the Robert C. Byrd Rural Health Center.
And then it got late, and I had to stop researching. But it appears that every slab of concrete in West Virginia is named after Bob Byrd.
Really warming to his class-envy tirade, the King Tut of the Senate further informed O'Neill: "I haven't walked in any corporate boardrooms. I haven't had to turn any millions of dollars into trust accounts. I wish I had those millions of dollars." Instead, Byrd had to scrape by with billions of dollars forcibly extracted from the taxpayers to build grotesque banana republic tributes to himself.
At least the money O'Neill "turn[ed] into trust accounts" came from his own pocket. Coincidentally, the money Byrd turned into eponymous monuments also came from O'Neill's pocket. A humble display of gratitude might have been more appropriate.
An astonished O'Neill responded to the harangue: "I started my life in a house without water or electricity. So I don't cede to you the high moral ground of not knowing what life is like in a ditch."
And then the hearing spun totally out of control as Senator Tut redoubled his own sob story: "Well, Mr. Secretary, I lived in a house without electricity, too, no running water, no telephone, a little wooden outhouse." (Though Byrd was manifestly enamored of these fascinating particulars of his life story, he unaccountably skipped the part about his youthful membership in the Ku Klux Klan.)
When did a lack of money and accomplishment become a mark of virtue? Some rich people may be swine, but so are some poor people. A lot of rich people work harder, are more creative, and are a lot nicer than the poor. Paul O'Neill was never in the Klan. Paul O'Neill never filched taxpayers' hard-earned money to build a vast complex of shrines to himself.
More perplexingly, when did a scoundrel whose only source of capital comes from other people's paychecks assume the "high ground" over a rich man who dispersed paychecks? O'Neill is rich, I'm not, oh well. At least he didn't dip into my earnings.
Every society must have concentrations of wealth in order to build and create. Even the Soviet Union of beloved memory had concentrations of wealth – but it was in the government, rather than in corporations. It's called capital. Capital is needed to launch society's most important projects – factories, inventions, bridges, skyscrapers and telescopes named after Bob Byrd.
O'Neill's concentration of money came to him through the voluntary decisions of investors and consumers. Byrd's far larger concentration of money came to him by force. Send in half your paycheck to the government or go to jail.
The specious core of the liberal mantra on tax cuts – "tax cuts for the rich" – is that unless taxes are cut across the board, it never happens. As loaded Hollywood liberals are always reminding us, they don't "need" a tax cut. The rich we shall always have with us, kind of like the poor. At least conservatives defend the right of middle-class people to keep their money, too.
The only rich people deserving of malice are rich liberals who express bemusement at the non-rich's desire for a tax cut. They want the middle class to pay more in taxes and they use the lumpen poor as a battering ram against these hated, acquisitive, coupon-clipping climbers.
Despite his maudlin self-flattery, Robert Byrd and the rest of his party don't resent the rich on behalf of the poor. They resent the rich on behalf of the government. There may still be a toilet in West Virginia that is not yet named for Bob Byrd.