The fiscal cliff, the 1% vs the 99%, taxing the middle class out of existance... What it all comes down to is the wisdom of the Almighty State taking from them as has to give to give to them as has not.
There's no doubt the State can do so if it wishes. But is it the smart thing to do? Can the government legislating the "poor" into prosperity? Walt thinks not (lifetime pct .984) and argues from the record of two great empires.
Consider the mighty and long-lived Roman Empire. History tells us an important factor in the slow demise of Rome was excessive welfare. This was mandated by Roman senators to buy voter support. They feathered their own nests while keeping the poor quiet with bread and circuses. Not much has changed in two millenia, has it.
Now think about Japan. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by American atomic bombs in August of 1945. Nothing left. But look at them now! The two cities -- indeed the whole country -- have redeveloped beyond anyone's imagination.
How did the Japanese become so prosperous so quickly? They do not have a welfare system. You work or do without. Which caused more long-term destruction: the A-bomb or government welfare programmes created to buy the votes of those who want someone to take care of them?
What we're talking about, dear readers, is the importance of incentives. Walt will explain in five sentences.
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
That's not intended to be an argument for no taxes. The Romans had taxes. The Japanese have taxes. There will probably be taxes in hell. It is, however, an argument for a flat tax, an idea whose time has come... and gone... again and again. But keep it in mind as you listen to the wrangling about who's going to pay for all the entitlements and social programmes that the vote-hungry politicians and lamestream media tell us we must have.