If we want to save the planet and be morally virtuous, we are told, we must stop our incessant "buying of things we don't need." Church sermons encourage everyone not to lose sight of the REALLY IMPORTANT things and to reject the disgusting materialism of our capitalistic society. Hardly a day goes by when there is not an editorial, article or impassioned plea for us to stop listening to advertisements that "force" us to buy more and more.
As Siggy has often remarked concerning the difference between conservatives and leftists, "Conservatives believe they have better ideas. Leftists believe they are better people." And, they intend to make you a "better" person whether you want to be one or not.
To listen to these people you would think that human beings are entirely spiritual beings, existing in a golden glow of non-material nothingness. You would think that people are not composed of matter and have substance in a 3-dimensional, material world. Or, you could cue the Madonna music and believe exactly the opposite: that we are living in a material world, and that human beings are nothing more than physical, material creatures. And, of course the Obama Administration is going to rescue us from ourselves and make it so that we don't have all that money to spend on such useless "things". He says that he's only going to "soak the rich", but as the WSJ notes, there's only one teensy little problem:
Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can't possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama's new spending ambitions.Bummer.
Consider the IRS data for 2006, the most recent year that such tax data are available and a good year for the economy and "the wealthiest 2%." Roughly 3.8 million filers had adjusted gross incomes above $200,000 in 2006. (That's about 7% of all returns; the data aren't broken down at the $250,000 point.) These people paid about $522 billion in income taxes, or roughly 62% of all federal individual income receipts. The richest 1% -- about 1.65 million filers making above $388,806 --paid some $408 billion, or 39.9% of all income tax revenues, while earning about 22% of all reported U.S. income.
Note that federal income taxes are already "progressive" with a 35% top marginal rate, and that Mr. Obama is (so far) proposing to raise it only to 39.6%, plus another two percentage points in hidden deduction phase-outs. He'd also raise capital gains and dividend rates, but those both yield far less revenue than the income tax. These combined increases won't come close to raising the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that Mr. Obama is going to need.
But don't worry. Obama and his minions are sure to come up with another way to squeeze more money out of those who create it so they can transfer it to those who don't.
Let's stop and think about the Marxist modus operandi for a moment. If you take the anti-materialistic and anti-capitalist, "redistribute the wealth" message to its logical extreme, you must inexorably reach the conclusion that the highest values of society should be to encourage a virtuous--and equal--poverty for all; while homelessness and hunger would be proof that an individual has attained the highest moral plane. From the perspective of the "anti-materialists", malnourished children in societies of mud huts wearing rags and owning nothing- would be the epitome of human existence; since the possession of material wealth only condemns us to meaningless and empty lives given over in pursuit of meaningless and empty things. Clearly the poor have managed to eke out a life of powerful meaning and spiritual worth.
Only one problem with all this Marxist and neo-Marxst BS: human beings are not either spiritual or material. They are both at the same time. And, even more important for this discussion, there is a direct link between human freedom and those material goods the left incessantly tells us we should shun. Consider: all the marvelous goods and services that our incredible capitalistic society makes possible would not exist unless there were thinking, rational MINDS creating them.
The clothing, toys, electronics, food and other material goods that we "don't need" were created by human MINDS, who first imagined them in their thoughts, then found a way to make their thoughts real. When Marxists (or closet Marxists like Barack Obama) talk about "controlling the means of production" they are quite simply talking about controlling the human MIND. And when they talk about limiting your ability to pursue your happiness, i.e., obtain goods that you value; they are talking about controlling the human spirit.
When utopians dream of societies were wealth and material goods somehow mysteriously drop down from the skies above; or when they "imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger/A brotherhood of man", they are actually imagining a world where the human mind and spirit have been deliberately murdered; sacrificed to some "ideal" bouncing around in some slacker's fantasy. When they talk about "soaking the rich", they are actually talking about decreasing YOUR standard of living and capping your dreams and ambitions. The creation of wealth is what drives economies; not its redistribution.
The entire history of humanity has been driven by those individuals who have the unique ability to make the non-material real; to create wealth out of nothing but ideas. And, while those productive people have definitely benefited materially from their creations; the side effect has been that all of humanity has also benefited. In fact, this transformation of abstract concepts into material goods; of the spiritual into the physical--has been largely responsible for mankind's evolution from caves to modern cities and civilization.
Modern-day Marxists (or, neo-Marxist fascists as I often refer to them) and all their totalitarian cousins (including the environmental fascists and the smiley-faced bureaucrats who think they can spend your money better than you can) would have you believe in typically contradictory postmodern style that:
In the first instance, wealth is considered something good that is being stolen from its rightful owners by the evil capitalists; and in the second instance, the very act of creating wealth and consuming it is bad and inevitably mucks up the planet. What unites the two contradictory positions is the underlying desire of both camps to control and enslave the human mind and spirit.
The creation of wealth is only dependent on human thought, human ingenuity, and human desire (all non-material, yet important components of spirituality and mental development) ; and these are the foundations of the material progress you see all around you in the United States. When those non-material components of human existence are extrapolated to the real world, the results are the goods and services that overflow in abundance in economically free societies.
By appreciating those goods and services, we pay homage to the human mind.
By purchasing those goods and services, we honor human creativity as we pursue that which we value and which gives our lives meaning.
By enjoying the material things that make my life easier and more enjoyable, we are celebrating the human spirit.
By means of materialism --pursuing wealth, money and objects--free people happily provide the means by which many humans can benefit from the imagination of one. In other words, we contribute to the advancement of humanity from poverty to wealth; from homelessness to shelter; from hunger to satiety.
By embracing materialism and honoring the human mind, we are embracing the the highest spiritual and mental development of humanity.
The reason to enjoy and appreciate all those materialistic "things" is because they are human thought made visible. When we give "objects" to people we love those objects become concrete expressions of our love. And, as physical beings living in a physical world, it is a function of our essential nature to translate the abstract, the intangible, the non-corporeal--the spiritual, if you will--into reality.
What those who constantly lecture us about the "shallowness" of pursuing material things forget--as they busily attempt to limit our ability to create, let alone pursue them--is that human freedom is inextricably bound up in that "shallow" pursuit. In fact, next time you enter a store and see the incredible variety of wonders for sale--no matter how silly or trivial or "non-essential" they may be--remember that every single one of them is a concrete expression of a human mind. Every time you buy one of those goods (interesting name for material things, no?), you are celebrating the freedom of that mind.
So, the next time you hear the political left and other neo-Marxist thugs and nannies talk about the necessity of "redistributing" wealth, remember that what they are talking about is nothing less than the enslavement of the human mind and spirit.