After getting home last night, I did a little link chasing until I stumbled across an article of leftist coveting posted by Les Leopold on the Huffington Post website titled “The Forbes 400 Shows Why Our Nation Is Falling Apart.”

It’s great to know that during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans, according to Forbes, actually increased by $30 billion. Well golly, that’s only a 2 percent increase, much less than the double digit returns the wealthy had grown accustomed to. But a 2 percent increase is a whole lot more than losing 40 percent of your 401k. And $30 billion is enough to provide 500,000 school teacher jobs at $60k per year.

Collectively, those 400 have $1.57 trillion in wealth. It’s hard to get your mind around a number like that. The way I do it is to imagine that we were still living during the great radical Eisenhower era of the 1950s when marginal income tax rates hit 91 percent. Taxes were high back in the 1950s because people understood that constraining wild extremes of wealth would make our country stronger and prevent another depression. (Well, what did those old fogies know?)

Why use President Eisenhower as the benchmark? Leopold could have chosen the highest tax rate of 94% which fell 1944-1945, but that would be mentioning Democrat Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Instead, he chose a Republican. Gee, I wonder why he chose a Republican instead of the higher rate under two previous Democrats.

So, were taxes that high in 1944-1945 and again from 1951-1963 because “people understood that constraining wild extremes of wealth would make our country stronger and prevent another depression”? Really? So the high taxes from 1932-1986 made the country stronger, so we didn’t get affected by the recessions of 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960-61, 1969-70, 1973-75, 1980, and 1981-82? Golly, good thing the government was confiscating 50-94% of the wealthiest Americans’ incomes during that time, or we’d have really been up poop creek without an implement of movement!

Quite simply, a tax is a punishment, so a tax on income is a punishment for earning money. When the government punishes an action, like earning money, the people respond by doing less of it. So Leopold thinks a massive income tax makes the country stronger by encouraging people to work less, and that’s a good thing? And here I thought the whole depression/recession thing is what you get when there is a reduction in the productivity of the nation. Well, what does this old fogy know?

Had we kept those high progressive taxes in place, instead of removing them, especially during the Reagan era, the Forbes 400 might each be worth “only” $100 million instead of $3.9 billion each. So let’s imagine that the rest of their wealth, about $1.53 trillion, were available for the public good.

What does $1.53 trillion buy?

It’s more than enough to insure the uninsured for the next twenty years or more.

It’s more than enough to create a Manhattan Project to solve global warming by developing renewable energy and a green, sustainable manufacturing sector.

And here’s my favorite: It’s more than enough to endow every public college and university in the country so that all of our children could gain access to higher education for free, forever!

Ah, the classic liberal dream of “I could spend your money better than you can.” Maybe, just maybe, Leopold could spend the money with far more wisdom than the 400 Forbes billionaires, but he misses one key point: their money is not his to spend. But Leopold has become successful in breaking the Tenth Commandment:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. Exodus 20:17 [emphasis mine - CM]

Other people’s money most certainly falls under that part of not coveting anything that is our neighbor’s. Now it’s true we can play the game of imaging just how much better we could spend another person’s money, but at best it’s just so much mental masturbation since it gives us a nice feeling, but nothing productive actually happens. But playing this game has a bad side leading to feelings of jealousy, rage, and calls for the confiscation and outright theft of other people’s money “for the common good.” Walter E. Williams sums it up well in his book More Liberty Means Less Government on page 182 of my copy.

Liberals are about control. Jealousy is their powerful instrument for the politics of envy. By getting us to covet that which belongs to our neighbor, we in turn give them the power to confiscate what are perceived as ill-gotten gains of others and pass it around. In the process we all wind up being less free, less prosperous, and less moral and become a nation of thieves engaged in the attempt to live at each other’s expense.

Leopold waxes on about the warm and pleasant feeling his mental wankfest grants him as he contemplates the theft of other people’s money. He says that “please let’s not call it socialism,” and he’s right. There is a much better term for the progressive tax he lusts after, and that word is Marxism. After all, a progressive tax is the third of Marx’s Ten Planks proposed in his Communist Manifesto.

We have basic cable at home — a first — and I admit that I love watching shows on the Discovery Channel and AMC. Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs are by far my favorites. [By contrast, I'm getting sick of the TV constantly yammering away in the background. --TPK]

One of the channels is a public access forum, and all sorts of random stuff appears there. Sturgeon’s Law is in full force. One morning I was treated to a choice nugget of nonsense in the form of “Liberty News TV.” While waiting for my carpool to arrive, I watched a cartoon explaining why people are unhappy, and purporting to show how government can make them happier.

If you want to experience the… uh, thrill, of Liberty News TV “education,” you can view the same cartoon online here (forward to about 17:30). The three cartoon characters — Bingo, Trudy, and Nigel — chat and stroke the host, Daniel Noel, until about 19:10 when the following gem of economic silliness is given:

Daniel: Why do so many Americans feel unhappy? Let’s start with a big one: the gap between rich and poor. It’s a gap that grows a little every day, thanks to tax cuts for the rich, corporate welfare, and war.

Bingo: I’m poor, and he’s rich. And that stinks. I’m unhappy!

Daniel: A progressive tax system asks more from the rich and increases overall happiness because it spreads the wealth around.

Bingo: Look, Trudy! Nigel’s learning to share.

Trudy: Brilliant! Taxing the rich will help the Yanks pay for health care and improve education. Maybe some of them will learn to pronounce “nuclear.”

Bingo/Trudy: I feel happier already.

Nigel: I’m snuckered. I can’t afford to buy as much stock in Halliburton this year.

Trudy: Sorry, Nigel. Remember the cardinal rule: create the most happiness for the most people.

Nigel: That takes it! My bloody watch has stopped.

Bingo: Don’t worry. I called him a “Wambulance.”

Oh, where to begin? First, the good folk at Liberal Noise Liberty News TV postulate that rich people get richer and poor people get poorer because of tax cuts to the rich, corporate welfare, and war. Nowhere in their calculations does work, differing natural abilities, or education appear. A highly-trained heart surgeon working 60 hours a week will earn far more money than an Oprah-watching couch potato waiting for his welfare check; this growing gap of wealth has nothing to do with tax cuts, corporate welfare, or war. Bill Whittle does an excellent job of explaining away the “growing gap” myth in his two-part essay titled, “Trinity.” I highly recommend you visit his site if you haven’t already done so.

Anyway, Bingo says he’s unhappy because he’s poor and Nigel is rich. A more accurate term to describe the cause of his unhappiness is envy — or as the Bible calls it, “covetousness.” And as long as someone on Earth is richer than Bingo, and as long as he remains envious of that wealth, he will always be unhappy. There is a wise reason why the 10th Commandment basically tells people to stop envying their neighbor’s plasma TV.

Daniel goes on to explain that more people are happy when the wealthy have their pocketbooks forcibly vacuumed to redistribute the money to the poor Bingos of the world. Never you mind that the majority of wealthy people in the United States made that money themselves, and should have as much right as the poor and middle-class to spend their own profits as they see fit. Ignore the fact that these caring and thoughtful lefties have zero sympathy for Nigel, openly mocking his misfortune when he dares to complain that he’s taking it in the shorts. As long as there are people who are getting vacuumed goodies from the world’s Nigels, they will continue to demand that the government apply the suction by way of punitive taxation. The phrase goes, “He who robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul.”

But if spreading the money around makes people happy, why aren’t welfare recipients the happiest people on the planet? Well, that’s because they’re having babies. Yes, you read that right. One of the “truths” espoused on this shallow show is that having children does not make us happy. And that’s probably true if you don’t want children in the first place — or if you see every child as yet another mouth to feed and another useless drain on the world’s fragile resources. But if you see a child as a precious gift from God — a unique individual whose personal contributions to the world might include cures for cancer and AIDS, inspiring and beautiful music and literature, or a life given in service to God and man — then each child is a joy, not a burden.

I’ll finish with the cardinal rule that Trudy gives us: “create the most happiness for the most people.” Another way of stating this rule is, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” That little gem comes from the Left’s good buddy, Karl Marx. By this light, I see that Liberty News TV believes happiness comes from Marxist economic theory. I’ll give Communism a pass, thanks. I prefer an economic system that, well, actually works.

You can watch the rest of the program if you have the stomach for it. I found the brief moments I watched to be filled with similarly wrongheaded ideas that seem to be common fodder for the Left today. While I will occasionally watch and read the Left’s ideas, there’s only so much I can take in one sitting.

Friggin’ Commies.