by Patrick J. Buchanan: It
Can't Happen Here!
media have discovered a new issue: inequality in America. The gap
between the wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of the nation is wide
and growing wider.
This, we are
told, is intolerable. This is a deformation of American democracy
that must be corrected through remedial government action.
The rich must pay "their fair share." Though the top 1
percent pay 40 percent of federal income taxes and the bottom 50
percent have, in some years, paid nothing, the rich must be made
to pay more.
That's an appealing
argument to many, but one that would have horrified our founding
fathers. For from the beginning, America was never about equality,
except of God-given and constitutional rights.
was about liberty; it was about freedom.
The word "equality"
was not even mentioned in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or
the Federalist Papers. The word "equal" does not make
an appearance until the 14th Amendment's "equal protection
of the laws" after the Civil War. The feminists' Equal Rights
Amendment was abandoned and left to die in 1982 after 10 years of
Jefferson wrote that memorable line – "All men are created
equal" – he was not talking about an equality of rewards, but
of rights with which men are endowed by their Creator. He was talking
about an ideal.
For as he wrote
John Adams in 1813, Jefferson believed nature had blessed society
with a "precious gift," a "natural aristocracy"
of "virtue and talents" to govern it. In his autobiography,
a half decade before his death in 1826, he restated this idea of
"the aristocracy of virtue and talent which nature has wisely
provided for the direction of the interests of society."
was what the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, Mao's
Revolution of 1949, Castro's Revolution of 1959 and Pol Pot's revolution
of 1975 claimed to be about.
This was the
Big Lie, for all those revolutions that triumphed in the name of
equality were marked by mass murders of the old ruling class, the
rise of a new ruling class more brutal and tyrannical, and the immiseration
of the people in whose name the revolution was supposedly fought.
"Power to the people!" winds up as power to the party
and the dictator, who then act in the name of the people. The most
egalitarian society of the 20th century was Mao's China. And that
regime murdered more of its own than Lenin and Stalin managed to
is the natural concomitant of freedom.
For just as
God-given talents are unequally distributed, and the home environments
of children are unequal, and individuals differ in the drive to
succeed, free societies, where rewards of fame and fortune accrue
to the best and brightest, must invariably become unequal societies.
In the 19th
and 20th centuries, no nation achieved greater prosperity for working
men and women than the United States, where all were born free,
but equal only in constitutional rights.
inequalities of income and wealth have endured through the history
of this republic, each generation lived better and longer than the
one that came before.
That was the
America we grew up in. As long as life for the working and middle
classes was improving, who cared if the rich were getting richer?
inequality is due to several factors.
One is a shift
from manufacturing as the principal source of wealth to banking
and finance. A second is the movement of U.S. production abroad.
This has eliminated
millions of high-paying jobs while enriching the executives and
shareholders of the companies that cut the cost of production by
the interests of corporations – maximizing profit – and the interests
of the country – maintaining economic independence – diverged. And
the politicians who depend on contributions from executives and
investors stuck with the folks that paid their room, board and tuition.
the latest crusade against inequality lie motives other than any
love of the poor. They are resentment, envy and greed for what the
wealthy have, and an insatiable lust for power.
For the only
way to equalize riches and rewards in a free society is to capture
the power of government, so as to take from those who have, to give
to those who have not.
here is the unvarying argument of the left since Karl Marx: If you
give us power, we will take from the rich who have so much and give
it to you who have so little. But before we can do that, you must
give us power.
This is the
equality racket. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
condition which is required in order to succeed in centralizing
the supreme power in a democratic community, is to love equality,
or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism,
which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced ... to a single
When they come
preaching equality, what they want is power.
J. Buchanan [send
him mail] is co-founder and editor of The
American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books,
the Right Went Wrong, and Churchill,
Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. His latest book is Suicide
of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? See his
© 2011 Creators Syndicate
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