Now that our president has fixed our health-care system with the Affordable Care Act, he seems to have set his sights on resolving another big social issue in 2014. Obama and other progressive (they dont like to use the unpopular term liberal anymore) crusaders now have the problem of income inequality squarely in their cross hairs and we should probably all be afraid. Very afraid.
It seems that the gap between the rich and the poor in this country has been growing wider during Obamas time in office and his left-wing supporters dont believe he has been doing enough to help the less fortunate, so hes trying to heed their call. So far his emphasis has been on extending federal unemployment benefits and raising the minimum wage, but because those initiatives affect only a small percentage of Americans you can bet there is more to come.
And you can be sure that whatever else comes down the pike will involve taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor. The percentage of people collecting government aid has already skyrocketed under our current president, but progressives certainly believe that much more wealth needs to be redistributed.
In fact the left wing seems to have a nascent version of the tea party brewing, Democrats who are as tired of moderates in their party as the tea party patriots are of old guard party line-crossers in the GOP. Their current golden boy is the new mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, who rode into office pledging to increase taxes on the wealthy and greatly increase social spending in the Big Apple.
Im not sure what Mayor De Blasio plans to do once the rich folks decide to move out of his city instead of paying his inflated tax rates. Maybe hell build a wall around Manhattan and man it with armed guards like they do in North Korea.
All kidding aside, it is a concern that the number of have-nots is increasing in our country, and Republicans need to have some ideas on what the government can do to help out those who want to find good jobs but are currently unable to do so.
Its true that there are too many people in this country who have no interest in working and merely want to sponge off the taxpayers, but Id like to think there are still a lot of hard-working people who want to better themselves through their own efforts.
How can the government help such people? Small businesses are known to be the most robust job creators, so a good place to look for answers would be to ask would-be entrepreneurs what might be preventing them from starting a new business.
I think theyd tell you that dealing with onerous government regulations, deciphering our outrageously complex tax laws, and now dealing with the new insurance requirements of the Affordable Care Act are all impediments to starting up a new business venture.
If you noticed, all of those impediments have one thing in common -- they are all things the federal government is doing to discourage people from creating new job-creating enterprises. Im not advancing the much-maligned theory of trickle-down economics here, where you blindly cut taxes for the rich and hope that translates into economics benefits for everyone.
Im talking about very specifically addressing the things that our government is doing to keep ambitious Americans from creating new job-creating businesses.
Explaining this to voters is a little more challenging than raising the minimum wage or extending emergency unemployment benefits indefinitely, but it is ultimately a more sound way to reduce income inequality than the government playing Robin Hood as people such as Obama and De Blasio are wont to do.
There are plenty of examples of what happens when a country abandons free market capitalism and tries to redistribute wealth by government fiat. It does have an equalizing effect -- it gets rid of mostly the wealthy and middle classes and makes all but a few privileged government officials dirt poor.
To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the problem with progressivism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.