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COLUMN

If It’s Green, It’s Red

Matt Craighead

Conventional wisdom tells us that the fall of the Soviet Union marked the end of communism. Too many of us are blind to what should be plain as day -- that the twin specters of communism and socialism are still at work today.

President Bush has proposed a modest $1.6 trillion tax cut over 10 years, only 6 percent of projected government tax revenues over the next ten years, half the percentage of the Kennedy tax cuts and one-third that of the Reagan tax cuts; it fails to even repeal much of the 1990 and 1993 tax increases. Yet Democrats in Congress attack the tax cut as being too large and weighted too heavily towards the rich.

A simple look at the numbers will show that these claims are unfounded, but it’s more interesting to observe the rhetoric used to voice these complaints. My favorite was Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s amazingly candid response to Bush’s Feb. 24 radio address: “His idea is based on the premise that they pay more, so they should receive more. A fairer way of approaching tax cuts is not to ask who pays more, but who needs the relief more.” I couldn’t have put it better, Tom -- you believe in the Communist dictum, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” while I believe that simple fairness dictates that those who pay the highest taxes should see the greatest relief.

Gov. Vilsack, though, is a far cry from one presidential candidate who shook things up in 2000 -- Ralph Nader of the Green Party, who received over 2.7 million votes. Nader’s platform should have made any American who understands the principles our country was founded upon -- constitutionally limited government, the rule of law, and social, economic, and political freedom -- sick to their stomach.

According to the Green Party, almost all of our problems can be blamed on capitalism. Racism? Capitalism’s at fault. War? Waste and inefficiency? Alienation? It’s all because of capitalism.

Already, this platform is beset by contradictions. These are the same people who tell you that the capitalist drive to “increase efficiency” caused mad-cow disease, while at the same time blaming “inefficiency” on capitalism. They blame capitalism for “economic instability,” when historical evidence clearly indicates that government intervention in the economy is responsible for much of the instability we see.

What do the Greens propose to do about these things? Reading their agenda for America, we see that the Greens demand a “Guaranteed Basic Income, Jobs for All, a 30-Hour Work Week [with] No Cut in Pay, [single-payer] Health Care.” They want free education and child care for everyone, and demand that housing costs must not exceed 25 percent of anyone’s income.

The fundamental question we must ask is, “at whose expense?”

Fortunately, the Greens have an answer: taxes on the rich. They want a steeply progressive tax system with a “Maximum Income” (a 100 percent tax bracket). They want to massively increase corporate taxes and inheritance taxes, while instituting a new “Wealth Tax” on wealth over $2.5 million, and a “Currency Speculation Tax.” They even insist that the federal government take over responsibility for all state and local taxation, to eliminate “tax rate competition”; they call this “Fiscal Federalism,” in a bizarre twist of the word that must have the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.

Make no mistake about it. The Green platform is not Green; it is Red. The Greens propose, in effect, a massive government takeover of all private industry, i.e., socialism. One would think that this would make them a fringe party, yet Nader captured nearly 3 million votes.

The Greens disguise their socialism as “economic democracy.” However, democracy and individual rights are fundamentally incompatible with socialism and communism. The hallmark of individual rights is the right to life -- broadly speaking, the right of every individual to live his or her life in the way that pleases him or her, so long as others are not harmed. Economic freedom is an essential part of this. For example, individuals have the right to choose what job they want and which products they wish to buy.

Yet socialism denies economic freedom. It holds that you are not free to dispose of what you earn through your job freely, that instead you must hand it over to the government, which will decide how to spend it for you. This is not freedom -- it is slavery. Alan Keyes made waves in the Republican presidential race of 2000 by declaring that “the income tax is a slave tax: inherently incompatible with freedom.” Keyes is correct. What is the income tax but a declaration that your hard work belongs first not to you, but to the government? A 30 percent tax on income makes you 30 percent a slave, and the Greens’ 100 percent tax bracket makes men absolute slaves.

In the end, the only economic system compatible with freedom is capitalism. Capitalism takes economic decision-making out of the hands of government and places it in the hands of individuals, leading to far truer “economic democracy” than any socialist planner can ever provide. So next time you hear the Democrats in Congress telling us that they can’t afford to give us a tax cut, ask yourself whether you want to travel down the path of socialism and despair, or the path of capitalism, freedom, and prosperity.