Wyatt Emmerich, Southside Sun
The Picayune Item
I was hoping Romney would win and the economy would boom, but it was not to be. I run a cyclical business and I’m really ready for an up cycle. Oh well.
The day after the election, the R.E.M. hit song kept reverberating in my head, “It’s the end of the world as we know it . . .” The phrase “tipping point” kept coming up in conversations.
With a week of reflection, however, I realize the tipping point really occurred a long time ago. The year 1913, to be exact, when our nation passed the 16th Amendment to our Constitution providing for the income tax.
At that point 51 percent of the people, using the power of democracy, could take money from the other 49 percent. Our nation changed forever.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, - the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.”
But this is water long under the bridge. The 16th Amendment did not cause the collapse of the United States. In fact, we’ve done quite well since then.
Our long march toward socialism has been slow and steady. The establishment of Obamacare is just the latest chapter. It’s here and it’s unlikely to go away.
Free health care has long been part of our country. For decades, every emergency room in the nation has had a big sign stating that no one can be turned away because of inability to pay. Medicaid and Medicare have long been dominant features of the health care landscape. Obamacare is more of the same, just more of it.
As for government dependency, this is nothing new. In tough times people are afraid. They turn to the government to protect them. Remember the Great Depression, FDR and the New Deal. Obama’s proposals have been far more moderate than FDR’s and that was 70 years ago.
Surely it seemed like the tipping point during the four-term reign of FDR. But it was not. Since then we’ve had ebbs and flows of conservative and liberal governments. Ronald Reagan came 40 years after FDR.
Then there’s the demographic doomsday line. The aliens are taking over the United States and right-wing whites will become an endangered species. But this argument fails to hold up when you consider some of the most liberal states are those that are the whitest. Canada and Europe are far whiter than the United States and have long been more socialist in their politics. America’s entrepreneurial spirit will never die because we are all a nation of risk-takers. We all took a risk to get here. This is just as true of the immigrants today as the immigrants of yesteryear.
The United States is blessed to have a stable two-party system that keeps a delicate balance between free enterprise and socialism. Sometimes it ebbs toward free enterprise. Sometimes it ebbs toward socialism. The byproduct is peace and stability.
A nation of 300 million people just resolved the most fundamental issues facing society. Issues of life and death. Issues of wealth and poverty. Issues of freedom and government control. Not a bullet was fired. Not an ounce of blood was shed.
To be sure, emotions have run high. One side was disappointed, but the union is as strong as ever. The losing party will lick their wounds, regroup and plot for victory on another day. Let’s not miss the incredible accomplishment of peaceful democracy.
When you include local, state and federal workers, government now employs 35 percent of the entire workforce in America. That’s a lot. Socialism is alive and kicking in the United States.
But that still leaves 65 percent of workers employed by a free market system. What has evolved is a hybrid system: one part socialism, two parts capitalism.
We have a two-party system debating the optimal size of a two-system economy. The nation is almost evenly divided on which part to enhance and which part to diminish. This guarantees incremental change and inherent stability. This is not a coincidence. It is the natural evolution of a two-party system in a democracy. This stability is one of our nation’s greatest assets.
Two things made the difference for Obama: First, he spent far more money on the ground game and it paid off. The Democrats got out the vote. From a tactical political perspective, they outplayed their opponents.
Second, inflation — the poor man’s tax — has been mild. When Reagan defeated Carter, inflation was soaring. Inflation is the fuel of political upheaval but it was not a factor in this election.
Ironically, the top tax rate of the Eisenhower administration was 95 percent. The difference is that the lowest rate was 20 percent. Everybody paid something. Now we have half our citizens paying no federal income tax whatsoever. That is why we are broke.
The main buyer of U.S. Treasuries today is the Federal Reserve. It is a computer entry on a keyboard. Money from nothing. Welcome to the brave new world of monetarism. Does $16 trillion in debt matter? Can it be $160 trillion? What does that mean? Nobody knows for sure so we keep printing money. One would think sooner or later inflation would raise its ugly head. It was rampant inflation that created the social unrest that led to the rise of the fascist and communist parties before World War II. Over a hundred million dead. Ben Bernanke promises he can handle inflation when it appears. Let’s hope we have a softer landing than those of the last century.