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Monday, May 3, 2021

No Silver Spoons Here

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President stokes class envy against the “rich”

“It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share,” President Biden said during his first State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress. He promised to “reward work, not wealth” by raising taxes for the richest 1%.

“Reward work, not wealth,” Biden says.

Just let that sink in for a moment. That message presupposes that work and wealth are unrelated, as if those who are wealthy don’t work, and those who work aren’t wealthy. And yet, 80% of millionaires in this country started with nothing and are first-generation rich; 80% of millionaires come from families at or below middle-income level. In other words, the overwhelming majority of the “rich” were not born with silver spoons in their mouths.

But if rewarding the workers in our country is what Biden is really after, he should know the top 20% of income earners in the U.S. work five times as many hours as the average poor house hold (according to the U.S. Census Bureau). If Biden really thinks it’s time for the rich to “get some skin in the game,” he should also know that the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. pay almost 50% of all income tax collected by the IRS – even though they have already worked endless hours for years with little or no pay to finance their small business with credit cards, loans from friends and family, and mortgages where the collateral was their own home and good name.

The truth is Biden is not interested in “rewarding work,” nor is anyone else who peddles the politics of paradise, promising everyone everything for their vote. If Biden was interested in rewarding work, the “rich” would not be demonized, class envy wouldn’t be stoked with the myth that the “rich” don’t pay their fair share, and the POTUS wouldn’t sign an executive order proclaiming that “the American dream remains out of reach” for many Americans.

No, you see, what’s happening is that hard work – the American can-do spirit of ingenuity – is under attack in this country and has been for many years. Remember it was President Obama who said, “You didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” And then last year, the Smithsonian Institution published on their website that anyone saying “hard work is the key to success” is a racist (they really did publish that).

And a Pew Research poll last year found that most Americans (63%) point to circumstances, not work ethic, to explain why people are rich or poor. But this is the essence of modern-day liberalism, isn’t it?

It seeks to minimize the power and responsibility of the individual to affect its own success or failure. It’s why the left ignores that each one of us is largely responsible for our own prosperity and happiness. It’s called “the American dream,” and no one who has climbed that ladder – or pulled themselves back up when they have fallen – credits government spending and cradle-to-grave entitlements for their achievements.

Now before folks say, “Well, I’m a hard worker, but there aren’t enough good-paying jobs,” or “I can’t get enough hours at work, etc.,” please remember that when you vote, you are voting for policies that will eventually affect your wallet, not just your political party. For example, one candidate supports raising the minimum wage – sounds nice – but empirically, this causes more unemployment and even greater underemployment (where workers can’t get a full 40 hours per week). The surge at the southern border – sounds compassionate – will negatively impact low-skill workers (the least among us) the most by driving down wages. Then there’s the war on fossil fuels and the cancellation of projects like the XL pipeline – seems environmentally conscious – but that will ramp up the cost of driving to work, heating our homes, and for everything from a gallon of milk to a loaf of bread, including for those on fixed incomes.

And you want to know the dirty little secret in using such meaningless dribble as “reward work, not wealth”? OK, here it is: There is no congressional legislation, mandate, government agency or presidential act that can make work “rewarding” for you. The rewards of hard work will always vary according to each person’s strengths and weaknesses, their ambitions, education, work experience and a willingness to dispense with immediate gratification and convenience.

The bottom line is that when opportunity knocks, the folks that succeed most often get up and answer the door. This is why the politics of promising so many so much are destructive. It minimizes the personal obligation each of us has “to do” something, to take responsibility for our choices.

It establishes a false expectation that government can find you a good-paying job (and keep you employed), provide health care whenever you need it, pay your children’s college tuition and pay your mortgage.

And yes, there have always been good government programs to assist us whenever any of us needed a helping hand.

But that’s not what Biden means when he promises to “reward work, not wealth,” and if we don’t see the handwriting on the wall now, we’ll just end up being worked over in the end.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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