Wednesday, March 23, 2005

John Edwards' hypocrisy

From the AP:
John Edwards, former senator and vice presidential candidate, has a new part-time job as head of the University of North Carolina law school's new Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

Edwards, who represented North Carolina for one term in the Senate, began work Tuesday by moderating a panel discussion on the importance of savings and assets in moving families out of poverty.

"We have millions of Americans who work full time and still live in poverty, and that is absolutely wrong," said Edwards, a Democrat.
It's not "wrong" per se, but a fact of life. That doesn't mean we can't extend a helping hand, however. That sounds like a worthy cause, doesn't it? A "Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity," with emphasis on helping impoverished families save and accumulate assets.

From its name, I presume that John Edwards will work toward Social Security privatization. After all, it is the way for lower-income people to save money that is theirs. That's the ultimate way for poor people to build up their own assets.

Oh, but John Edwards doesn't support Social Security privatization. He'd rather have poor people stay poor, and be supplicants (as Michael Tanner of Cato said) to the government for their retirement.

Will John Edwards support free trade, which benefits poor people the most? First, free trade creates jobs, and better ones to help poor people out of poverty. NAFTA did push some jobs to Mexico, but the U.S. had a net gain in jobs -- and mostly higher-paying ones at that. That's because it allows us to do more productive, better-paying work that Mexicans, Chinese, et al, cannot do as well. Meanwhile, our trading partners produce things more efficiently -- more cheaply -- than we can, and they trade for the things we produce better. And the low prices benefit poor people more than others.

Oh, but John Edwards doesn't support free trade. Not real free trade, no. He voted for the farce of "permanent normal trade relations" with China and Vietnam, but he believes free trade puts Americans at a disadvantage and even "hurts" them. And just what would this "National venture capital fund" do? Evidently it will use tax dollars, so I'd like to know just how you'll take people's money and redistribute it to Americans "hurt by trade" -- how would you determine who's worthy, and how much each receives? And more fundamentally, how do you justify forcibly taking money from one person and giving it to another?

Look at John Edwards' switch-hitting: he actually came out somewhat for NAFTA before he came out against it. That's worthy of John Kerry.

Well, maybe John Edwards supports across-the-board tax cuts for businesses, so that they can afford to expand? More jobs mean more opportunity for poor people, instead of wasteful government spending. But no, John Edwards doesn't believe in tax cuts for businesses. The Kerry-Edwards plan proposed tax credits, and only to certain businesses. It also proposed cutting "the corporate tax rate by 5 percent – providing a tax cut for 99 percent of taxpaying corporations," but paid for by a tax hike on the remaining 1%.

As Bastiat would remind us (go here and scroll down to 1.56), that is not the creation of wealth, but merely a transfer. These "tax credits" are a euphemism for subsidy, whereas a true tax cut is an incentive giving real economic benefit to everyone. The plan's provided scenario is mind-boggling in its ignorance of economics:
For example, a medium-sized manufacturing company employs 1,000 workers. If this company hires an additional 100 employees at $40,000 – bringing the total to 1,100 workers – they would get a tax cut of $3,060 per worker $306,000 in total.
So the Kerry-Edwards plan was to pay the payroll taxes of certain businesses...just where did the Dynamic Duo think that money would come from? And it is a transfer at best, because the requisite tax increases are a disincentive for the other businesses that must pay them. Also, why do Kerry and Edwards believe it's ok to discriminate against big businesses, like Wal-Mart? It seems to be solely because they're "big." What is intrinsically wrong with a big business, whether or not it uses "economy of scale" to the consumer's advantage? It's still people, and people working.

Why are liberals like John Edwards so against Social Security privatization, free trade, and real tax cuts for all businesses? Well, it doesn't matter that these are the most economically effective measures to benefit the poor, as well as the rest of society. That's just it: liberals oppose any public policies that would help the poor if such policies might possibly benefit one "rich" person, no matter how small the extent. Can't cut income taxes, that would help the "rich"; can't cut capital gains taxes, that would help the "rich"; can't cut property taxes, that would help the "rich" too. But the fact remains that we're all in this economy together, and I for one declare that "trickle-down" does work. Read carefully what I say in my entry there: I'm not saying the rich shouldn't pay any taxes while the rest of us do, but a heavily progressive tax structure eventually hurts poor people too.

I wonder about something. John Edwards is a multi-millionaire trial lawyer. Since he thinks millionaires don't pay enough taxes, will he donate his $40,000 annual salary from the UNC to the U.S. Treasury? Has he started to calculate what is his own "fair share" of taxes and start paying that, regardless of current tax law? Will he sign a pledge stating he will never "evade" taxes via tax-free investments, like munis?

Or he could demonstrate his compassion for the poor by donating his $40,000 annual salary from this "Center" to a charitable cause. If he will or already donates extensively, please correct me: I will applaud anyone, even a liberal, who puts his money where his mouth is. On the other hand, I will not refrain from criticizing liberals who want to tax some people to benefit others, without putting up their own money first.

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