Opinion

No Tax Cut for You Because it Makes the Poor ‘Jealous’

Liberal California Congressman Ted Lieu said this about the tax cut that was signed into law by President Trump:

GOP underestimates how people feel when they know others got a better deal. If Sally gets a tax cut of $380 but others get $200,000, she will be upset. And wait until Joe finds out he is getting a tax increase for residing in CA. That’s why tax bill is so unpopular: human nature.

First, let’s get the math issue out of the way. If someone gets a tax cut of $200,000, it’s because he or she made a whole lot more money than the person who only got a tax cut of $380.

Second, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers pay less than three percent in taxes, while the top six percent pay 60 percent of the taxes.

Third, here are some raw numbers on who pays income taxes and the people who do not pay taxes but get paid millions of confiscated money:

Of the 150,493,263 filers who submitted individual income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service for the 2015 tax year, only 99,040,729 paid any income tax at all.  Together, those Americans paid a record $1,457,891,441,000 in total income taxes — for an average of $14,720 per taxpayer. The other 51,452,534 — or about 34.2 percent of all filers — did not pay a penny. Their average income tax payment was $0… There were 30,417,609 filers who did not pay income taxes and received $89,614,869,000 in cash back from the federal government. In other words, they got $89,614,869,000 in welfare payments. (CNS News)

“When pressed on Twitter about his desire to defeat tax cuts so the government can keep Americans’ hard-earned money, Lieu defended himself, saying, ‘Um, do you think we fund law enforcement and firefighters through voluntary, personal donations?'”

Wow! I didn’t know police and firefighters cost so much. They don’t. Police and firefighters are paid by local, county, and state taxes, or at least they should be.

There are lots of things that can be blamed on human nature. The goal is not to give into human nature. Contrary to evolutionists, we’re not animals. There’s a scene in the film The African Queen, that addresses the “human nature” issue. Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn) is a Christian missionary and Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) is a drunk with a boat. They are traveling down the very dangerous Ulanga River in German-occupied East Africa during World War I in an attempt to avoid capture by the Germans. After passing out after one of his regular bouts with the bottle, Charlie wakes up to see Rose pouring out the contents of one of his precious gin bottles into the river. Charlie is visibly upset as he appeals to her with the “human nature” argument.

“What ya being so mean for, Miss? A man takes a drop too much once and a while; it’s only human nature.” Without looking up, she says the following: “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.

There are a lot of people who make a whole lot more money than I do. I would like to make as much money as some of these people do, but I don’t. Should I vote for people to punish these richer-than-I folks because they are rich and they aren’t? Absolutely not.

What I should do is see how I can raise my standard of living. That’s what I’ve done. My parents were not even middle class. My grandparents were Italian immigrants who spoke very little English, never owned a car, and had few marketable skills. They, like my parents, worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity available to them. My brother and I did the same.

Being jealous or envious of the success of other people is the dumbest thing a person can do. While the jealous are stewing in the juice of envy, the productive and industrial pass them by.

The covetous person says, “I wish I had what he has, and I’m miserable that I don’t have it.”

Jealousy or envy is quantitatively different. “I’d like to have what he has, but I know I can never get it. Nobody should be allowed to have it or at least that much of it. I’ll work to destroy it. Maybe I can get the government to make it illegal to own or too expensive to keep.”

Societies that struggle to exist economically are infected with envy. Prosperity in others infuriates the envier and moves him to destroy what he does not have and will not work to get. Western enviers are more sophisticated. They don’t burn a villager’s crops or sabotage his water supply (Gen. 26:12-15). They run for political office or vote for those who do so they can stick it to the rich.

The long-term goal is to destroy the ability of the prosperous man to create wealth. In the end, the destroyed crops, the poisoned well, the high taxes hurt everyone, especially the poor people who are jealous of the rich. With no “excess” capital, there is no one to buy those initially expensive goods that make life easier for all of us.

Helmut Schoeck, in Envy (1966), called attention to the deadly role played in society by envy. Envy demands the leveling of all things, because the envious man finds superiority in others intolerable. He sees it as better to turn the world into hell rather than to allow anyone to prosper more than himself, or to be superior to him. Envy negates progress.

Consider the theme of the book Facial Justice by J.P. Hartley (1960):

Imagine a culture that strove so hard for equality that many women were required to have plastic surgery to make them less pretty or prettier based upon their grade-level. Each woman required to change [her] face could choose from a few variations that were approved beforehand to avoid evoking envy in other women.

If I can’t be made to look as beautiful as some women, then it’s incumbent upon them to make themselves less beautiful. Beautiful people underestimate how less attractive people feel when they know others got a better deal… It’s only human nature.

Robert Mugabe’s farm confiscation policies are a modern-day example of envy and its inevitable results:

In 2000, the Zimbabwe parliament passed a ground-breaking amendment allowing for the seizure of all white-owned farms without the permission or reimbursement to their owners. Since then thousands of farms have been occupied and agricultural output has plummeted drastically. In his book The Shackled Continent: Africa’s Past, Present and Future, Robert Guest, the Africa editor of the Economist for seven years, wrote: “In 1980, the average annual income in Zimbabwe was $950, and a Zimbabwean dollar was worth more than an American one. By 2003, the average income was less than $400, and the Zimbabwean economy was in freefall. [Mugabe] has ruled Zimbabwe for nearly three decades and has led it, in that time, from impressive success to the most dramatic peacetime collapse of any country since Weimar Germany.”

The mismanagement of Zimbabwe’s farms has led to an agricultural crisis in the country. Zimbabwe is blessed with thousands of acres of arable land and was once regarded as the “bread-basket” of southern Africa, but now cannot feed its own population. . . . Renson Gasela, the shadow agriculture minister for Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition party in Zimbabwe, recently told SW Radio Africa: “They [Zimbabweans] will be slain by one of the cruelest weapons of any era, starvation. They will die slowly and painfully. They will die hungry. People might say we are exaggerating but I can see many deaths happening this year. There is absolutely no food. Individuals have no food.”

It’s no wonder that the Bible describes envy as “rottenness of the bones” (Prov. 14:30, KJV).

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