The term envy is different than greed, by definition. Greed is an insatiable desire for more; envy however is unusually aggressive. It does not simply want more, it wants more of yours.
With polls showing Americans concerned about jobs and the economy, it is interesting to see President Obama downplay his failures. Instead of addressing his economic record, he has simply doubled-down with insinuations – drenched in class warfare – that the “rich” are not paying their fair share.
And no one constructs better class-based arguments than Barack Obama.
Presidentially speaking, his class rhetoric began in 2008, when he famously told Joe the Plumber that he favors wealth redistribution, insisting that “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Since his election, he has used his bully pulpit to belittle capitalism, threaten small business owners with increased taxes, demonize corporations, promote the Occupy Wall Street Movement, hamper U.S. energy production and blame the so-called “rich” for every imaginable economic problem.
Central to his position is the claim that wealthier Americans have managed to somehow hoard and control all the money, causing the living standards of the middle class to remain stagnant. He remarked earlier this year: “What drags our entire economy down is when the benefits of economic growth and productivity go only to the few, which is what’s been happening for over a decade now, and gap between those at the very, very top and everybody else keeps growing wider and wider and wider and wider.”
His strategy is to trick the American people into believing that for the past 30 years the living standards of the middle-class have not improved, although the overall economy grew markedly. Consequently, he argues, it is time to raise taxes on the rich and spend more on the middle class.
But not only is his philosophy of forced wealth redistribution immoral and incorrect, so is his math. Perhaps that is why his scheme is not working, even among his most fervent supporters.
A 2012 study conducted by Cornell University economist Richard Burkhauser paints a different picture than the one suggested by Obama — one of increasing prosperity across socioeconomic divisions. According to the detailed study which highlights data spanning approximately three decades, median household income – when properly measured – rose 36.7%. As explained by economist James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, “[A]ll income levels got richer. Yes, the very rich did exceptionally well, mostly due to technology and globalization. Incomes rose 63% for the top 5%, 56% for the top 10% and 52.6% for the top 20%. But everyone else made out pretty well, too. Incomes rose 40.4% for households between the 60th and 80th percentiles, 36.9% for the next quintile, 25.0% for the next, and 26.4% for the bottom 20%. There’s the ‘shared prosperity’ Obama says he wants, right in front of his eyes.”
And yet, the message we hear from liberals is a constant drumbeat of “fair-share” rhetoric designed to engender conflict, contending that the only way to solve our economic distress is to impose higher tax rates on businesses and those individuals who the government arbitrarily classifies as rich.
Leftists benefit by fabricating a never-ending class struggle, for it is perhaps their most useful tool in an attack against the free market and civil society. To the unthinking, there is appeal to such an approach; and for politicians, there are votes to be harvested amid the class struggle. That is why the president seeks to intensify the conflict, increase class consciousness and enhance solidarity by routinely referring to Americans by economic categories — a redefining of who is “rich,” or “middle class,” or even “poor.” It is little more than an attempt to exploit a character defect inherent to humanity, one of Dante’s “Seven Deadly Sins.”
In seeking to bolster his chances of reelection, the President proposes that his supporters use the ballot to plunder the wealth of those they deem too successful, saving his most desperate campaign slogan for his very last race:
When all else fails, just try envy.
***** State Senator Chris McDaniel