Cal Thomas: The false promises of socialism

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, January 15th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up, Cal Thomas on the latest push to raise taxes so the government can spend even more.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: When you receive your paycheck and look at the withholding for federal and sometimes state taxes, along with Social Security and Medicare, you probably don’t think you’re underpaying. Nor do you want the government to take more.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio believes if you have played by what used to be called ‘the rules’—making a decent living, taking care of yourself and your family, and not relying on government—your taxes should go up.

In his State of the City address last week, de Blasio said, “…brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world. There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.” He blamed presidential administrations from Reagan to Trump for that discrepancy.

The mayor ignores the tax cuts and in some cases spending reductions that have fueled an economic boom, producing more wealth for individuals and more revenue for governments.

But he is not alone in promoting unvarnished socialism, which many on the left have tried to mask behind the “progressive” euphemism. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York suggests we institute a 70 percent tax rate on the wealthy. Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary who just announced his presidential campaign, has resurrected the “fair share” lingo of past Democrats. In an interview with ABC News, Castro seemed nostalgic for a time when the top marginal tax rate was 90 percent.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has formed a presidential exploratory committee, hasn’t said what top tax rate she favors. But she told CNBC last July that “Ninety percent sounds pretty shockingly high.” Why, because it would stifle incentive? What about 80 percent?

It’s not that higher taxes and more government spending hasn’t been tried. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a series of U.S. programs charged with totally eliminating poverty and racial injustice in the country, is but one example. Johnson failed to achieve his goal of wiping out poverty because his social programs began in Washington, not in individual hearts and minds.

The Wall Street Journal recently carried a column about Sweden’s experience with socialism. It noted how increasingly radical Social Democratic governments raised taxes through the 1970s and 80s. The country’s economy sputtered. After a market-oriented government assumed power and instituted major reforms in 1991, Sweden’s economy boomed. It’s now richer than all major EU countries, and within 15 percent of U.S. per capita GDP.

Sweden’s experience with socialism has a lesson for Americans and especially millennials, a majority of whom favor socialism over capitalism, according to a 2016 Harvard University survey. Maybe they should take a closer look at their pay stubs and ask themselves whether they would be okay handing over more of their net pay to governments that irresponsibly and unnecessarily spend money on programs that don’t work.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig) New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at his State of the City address in New York, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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