Leave the Rich Alone
Free-market economy = individuals voluntarily exchanging goods. Each individual is better off as a result of the trade, or else he would not engage in it.
That is the true definition of a free market. There is no worker exploration, no consumer profiteering, no Marxist chains to throw off. Just social cooperation in the aggressive pursuit of a better standard of living. The alphabet soup of regulatory agencies born out of Franklin D. Roosevelt's fetish for power and control serves no real purpose but to bolster government payrolls and guarantee votes under the charade of "doing something." In turn, government-sponsored enterprises are mere funnels of taxpayer money to mitigate private risk and preserve the cash flow of campaign contributions. It's always entertaining to hear progressives wax so eloquent about the merits of government regulation, yet when you press them on unintended consequences, you might as well be talking about quantum physics.
So with an economy still in the doldrums, what does a president who has more experience signing grandma up to vote than running even a Taco Bell propose? Why, that we give him more money, of course!
Obama's newly proposed millionaire minimum tax, nicknamed the "Buffett tax," is a call to increase taxes on an income bracket that already pays 70% of all income taxes. Obama claims that it's "not class warfare; it's math." Yet math doesn't take into account common sense. Raising taxes is one thing, making sure people stick around to pay them is another.
While taxing the wealthy makes for great campaign rhetoric, it is also counterproductive economic policy. The super-rich are the ones who earn enough income to set aside substantial amounts of money for capital investment, which ultimately leads to increases in production. As the highly influential economist Ludwig von Mises explained, "[c]apital is not a free gift of God or of nature. It is the outcome of a provident restriction of consumption on the part of man. It is created and increased by saving and maintained by the abstention from dissaving."
Despite the widely circulated myth, the rich don't leave money "idle" unless they physically put it under their king-sized, satin-lined mattresses. That isn't to say that we should get down on our hands and knees and worship the super-rich, but perhaps, in the midst of a severe economic downturn, the public should think twice about wanting more money taken out of the private sector and given to the institution that brought us such great successes as Solyndra, "cash for clunkers," Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and all those wonderful shovel-ready projects that, according to Obama, weren't so "shovel ready." It's comforting when a president finds humor in throwing away nearly $1 trillion that his own daughters will have to pay back.
From a moral perspective, arguably the worst aspect of Obama's proposal is the broader implications of eliminating the tax deduction on charitable contributions. As Ron Paul recently pointed out, in lieu of an entitlement program for health care, voluntary charity could pick up the tab for those who choose to go uninsured and find themselves in a major accident. Many on the left denounced such an assumption in spite of the non-evidence of a lack of access to care prior to Medicare and Medicaid. And even in the midst of a deep economic recession, Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charity in 2010. Regardless of what folks like Ezra Klein assert, Americans have proven perfectly capable of giving to their fellow man in times of need. The irony is that proponents of government intervention distrust Joe Public while placing their faith in bureaucrats.
Guns and badges must supersede volunteerism.
While Obama's newest "soak the rich" scheme has little chance of passing, it's demonstrative of his underlying belief in government being the sole force of good in society. Private sector isn't spending enough money? Treat it like a Halloween grab-bag. Uncertain business atmosphere caused by increased regulation? Deflect blame to greedy CEOs. Warren Buffett, General Electric, and JP Morgan lining up for special interests? Name a program after them, throw 'em some green energy subsidies, and appoint them to your administration.
Stop trying to micromanage economic life and acknowledge that public officials are limited in their knowledge capacity? Now, that's just crazy talk.