published Friday, January 31st, 2014

Hart: The myth of income equality

By Ron Hart

Tuesday's State of the Union dress-down was another divisive, arrogant and partisan lecture by a failed president. I am glad four of the Supreme Court Justices stopped coming since Obama rudely attacked them.

Milton Friedman, the best economist of modern times, said, "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." Ironically, Friedman was from the Chicago school of economic thought, whose intellectual heft must battle the class-envy-driven Chicago school of politics practiced by Professor Barack Obama.

Freedom plays to the best of us, and it was the foundation of our country. Envy, forbidden in the Ten Commandments and one of the Seven Deadly Sins, plays to the worst in us. Obama rails against the productive members of society, implying that their success comes at the expense of others. This is divisive and worthy of contempt.

What Obama and the Democrats do not understand about business, since they almost all came up only through the political ranks and not the private sector, is that economics is not a zero-sum game. One person's success multiplies jobs and opportunity for many others.

It is easy and cheap politics to divide our country so that the unproductive 51 percent resent the productive 49 percent -- so you can get elected. Obama does it well. I hope Americans who work hard for a living are tiring of being taken advantage of by those Americans who vote for a living.

In a recent Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans said the federal government is too big and powerful. Yet Obama wants to unilaterally circumvent the Constitution to make it bigger.

With sixty-nine different government handout programs tied to "means testing" (costing taxpayers about $1 trillion a year), the dependent class has little incentive to work. If they earn some money, it puts them above the income levels where they can rake in all those government goodies from food, housing and health care to Obama-phones.

Obama even raised Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the "poverty line," adding 30 million to the dole by 2022 and making his failed Obamacare look like it insures more people. The incentive not to work has never been stronger.

Obama's latest focus group on "income equality" has to be called what it is: the Socialist redistribution of income that grows government to the detriment of the economy.

What Obama does not say is that the top 20 percent of income earners is not a static group of monocled, top hat-clad, Monopoly-guy types. It is an ever-changing group of people. What he should talk about is economic mobility, not equality.

"Economic equality" is code for redistribution. The real problem is broken families, the poverty they create, and the lack of economic opportunity.

Washington has made it so that Home Depot's Bernie Marcus, Papa John's founder John Schnatter, and just recently Erik Price, ex-Navy SEAL security entrepreneur, have said they could not have started their businesses today. Mr. Price, who has moved his business to Hong Kong, said "I would rather deal with the vagaries of investing in Africa than in figuring out what the hell else Washington is going to do to the entrepreneur next."

It is easy to lavish other people's tax money on people in order to stay in power. It's much harder to stand on principle and make the hard decisions that are best for the country in the long-term.

Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at

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nucanuck said...

What is Mr Hart smoking? The US has been and still is undergoing the most massive redistribution of wealth in history. The economic well-being of the American middle class has been ripped from them and handed to the very rich. The rich didn't suddenly work harder and smarter, they bought off Congress to change the tax code in their favor. They moved their factories overseas, creating labor over-capacity in the US with no wage pricing power. They created monopolies, previously forbidden. They deregulated banking and finance rules that let them run wild without going to jail.

Redistribution is killing the US and we read this pitiful Hart attack?

January 31, 2014 at 1:09 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

Repubs and libertarians can't stand an "uppity black man". He won't just role over and do what the Koch brothers want him to do. Imagine, he's married to his first and only wife (unlike Saint Ronnie), his wife is well educated, attractive and articulate. They quietly raise two beautiful daughters. He's athletic and he's been elected twice by an outright majority - the first man since Eisenhower. The nerve of Obama!

January 31, 2014 at 1:29 p.m.
librul said...

Oh yeah - all those libertarian "TV/radio commentators" and "op-ed humorists" like ol' Ron are the engines of our GDP. Just like all those hedge fund managers and commodities traders shuffling all that paper around, making money with money. Why, without mouthpieces like Ron our economy would just collapse..... Hey Ron, what tradable, durable goods have you EVER produced? Hmmmmmm?

February 1, 2014 at 8:11 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Mr. Hart, the only hard decisions that Republicans have been good at making are those that concern the poor, the elderly, or the average working American and how they have to tighten their belts more and more in order for the rich to keep enjoying their tax cuts and loopholes. When that's the case you call it "standing on principle" and doing "what's best for the country." But let a Democrat talk about hard decisions that affect the rich and then you call it "wealth redistribution."

February 1, 2014 at 5:50 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Milton Friedman is "the best economist of modern times?" Hmm...who designated him with that distinction? Oh yeah, the same delusional ones who claim that Reagan was the best president of modern times. One came up with the theory of voodoo economics and the other was responsible for putting it into action. And we've been paying the price ever since.

February 1, 2014 at 6:03 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

I understand this is just an opinion, but the least Mr. Hart could have referenced the facts. The fact that over the last 30 years the income gap between the upper and lower class has grown more in the US than any other country. And the upper 1% continues to out pace the lower 99. 30 years of stagnant wages can't be blamed on Obama. Why omitt the facts?

BTW, it's Erik Prince.

February 2, 2014 at 8:24 a.m.
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