ECONOMICALLY ILLITERATE PRESIDENT LEADS THE WAY
How often have you heard someone say, “We are governed by idiots,” or something to that effect? The level of ignorance demonstrated day in and out by our political leaders and those in the media should make all Americans fear for the future of the republic. It has not always been so. Several American founders noted that the experiment in self-governing they had designed could only work if the electorate were reasonably well educated.
Among the three branches of government, the courts tend to be held in the highest regard for the good reason that they have, for the most part, been non-corrupt and filled with competent judges. Last Friday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether or not the president’s employer mandate for vaccinations was legal. During the debate, a couple of the justices made statements revealing a very surprising level of ignorance about the spread and severity of the omicron variant of COVID-19. If people have incorrect or incomplete information, they make bad decisions. In a couple of their remarks, those justices were off by a factor of roughly 10. Bad decisions in these new cases could cost millions of people their jobs, weaken the economy and destroy basic civil liberties — so ignorance of relevant facts is not a trivial matter.
President Biden persists — with increasing success — in trying to convince us that he is the most economically illiterate president America has ever had. He keeps repeating that his multi-trillion dollar “Build Back Better” proposal is “paid for” and will not increase taxes for anyone making less than $400,000 per year. The serious economic analysts, including the Congressional Budget Office, who have looked at (the incomplete) proposal, have stated that the president’s assertions are without merit (i.e., nonsense).
The president chooses to be unaware that his big corporate tax increase will be paid for by workers and consumers (almost all of whom make less than $400,000 per year). The president and his socialist sidekick Sen. Elizabeth Warren claim they can obtain the revenue by taxing billionaires — as if there were thousands of them living in the trees, waiting to be fleeced. If they increase Elon Musk’s or Jeff Bezos’ tax rates, do they really think the government will get more tax revenue from them?
Press reports are that Mr. Musk paid something like $15 billion in income tax this past year — the largest tax anyone has ever paid any government. Ms. Warren became a millionaire by claiming to be an American Indian to get a fat salary from Harvard Law School. Mr. Musk became the world’s richest man by building the first big successful electric car company. (Remember, the progressive environmentalists told us that we all must drive electric cars in the future. They talked about it, but Mr. Musk did it.)
For decades, much talk has been about returning to the moon and going elsewhere. The political and media class told us that it was important but did nothing but tell us that it was important. So again, Mr. Musk took the initiative and built a real private space company that has now placed more satellites in orbit — and other outer space feats — than any government or other private company ever had. The bottom line is Mr. Musk has created many tens of thousands of high-paying private jobs, developed new environmentally-friendly technologies, and paid a record amount of taxes. In return, he is subject to endless carping from a dishonest parasite (Ms. Warren) who claims he has not done enough. Would America be better off if Mr. Musk — or Ms. Warren — had never been born?
The president announced that greedy meatpackers and greedy oil men cause inflation — so they must be punished. Before 2019, when the real price of meat and oil declined, were the packers and oil men less greedy?
Like it or not, the world runs on fossil fuels. If the price of oil and gas goes up, it increases the price of everything made from or depending on fossil fuels — plastics, packaging, transportation, construction, food, etc. Even the president has acknowledged that the price level is affected by supply and demand — but he seems unable to comprehend that when he shuts down pipelines, restricts drilling and makes it more difficult for the oil and gas business to obtain capital for drilling and expansion, supply will suffer. The price of oil and gas will rise.
Our first president, George Washington, was the most broadly accomplished (but not the most formally educated) of the remarkable Founding Fathers. He was a self-taught surveyor, engineer, agronomist, architect and military leader. He was well-read in history, law and economics. He was able to take the latest technologies and turn them into profitable businesses. He not only freed his slaves (a bold and radical move at the time) but set up apprentice programs for both Blacks and whites to teach them marketable skills and to be self-sufficient. He treated his fellow citizens not as stupid subjects but as people with unlimited potential. More than any other individual, Washington made the United States. We miss him!
• Richard W. Rahn is chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth and MCon LLC.
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