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Romney’s 47 percent and the $64,000 question

Republicans in Congress are so stupid. President Barack Obama set the trap; they walked in. They think Obama’s demand to tax the “rich” is about increasing government revenues, even though he’s said it’s not. The Republicans will cave in again because government spending has shrunk only three times in 62 years: 1954, 1965 and lastly in 2010 when the tea party ascended. The Democratic Party has been the “party of the rich” for decades, led by rich media manipulators.

However, Obama using political jujitsu has brilliantly saddled Republicans with the pejorative “party of the rich.” This is far more important to the president than raising revenues, because it’s proven to be a reliable tactic for increasing spending, growing government and redistributing wealth over and over, with Republicans periodically figuring how to pay for it. What are the chances the Republicans will lose the fight over the “fiscal cliff”? Historically, 20 to one.

The gist of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s comments about 47 percent of the population not paying income taxes was lost in the political game of “Gotcha.” Whether the 47 percent is comprised of military, Social Security or welfare recipients misses the point. Assume all 47 percent of the adult population is not morally, ethically or legally bound to pay any income taxes. Ask yourself, will half of any country’s population for long continue to support the other half (plus paying the government’s enormous shipping and handling charges for transferring the payments)?

Consider just Social Security. This year, 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day with a life expectancy of 85 years. There were 8.3 million Social Security recipients projected for 1940 with a life expectancy of 65 (when monthly benefits started) versus a projected 72 million retirees by 2030. They can expect to receive Social Security payments for an average 20 years while consuming services and products made by others and not reciprocating or contributing any products or services “for” others (obviously, there are exceptions). Not all their years of paying into Social Security, even with interest, will pay for their extended longevity.

For those working, an ever-increasing part of their income will go to people not working. The compromises of Republicans and Democrats on Social Security, Medicare and federal employee future retirement benefits already exceed $86.8 trillion, according to The Wall Street Journal. To put it in perspective, it's about $86 for each of a trillion stars you can see at night through a very powerful telescope. You can appreciate the magnitude of the problem for our children and grandchildren.

Is the $64,000 question why so many of the 47 percent of the population paying so little taxes looks to the government for support? The Employee Benefit Research Institute reports that 60 percent of American workers have saved less than $25,000 for retirement, about half a year’s median income, not counting Social Security.

Perhaps the answer lies in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s "The Brothers Karamazov," written in 1880. Compare his description of the government of the Roman Catholic Church with our government today concerning dependence and freedom.

The cardinal of Seville scolds Jesus Christ: “You wanted to come into the world and You came empty-handed, with nothing but some vague promise of freedom, which, in their simple-mindedness and innate irresponsibility, men cannot even conceive and which they fear and dread, for there has never been anything more difficult for man and for human society to bear than personal freedom! For where there is freedom of choice men [can be] bribed with bread? They say: 'Enslave, but feed us!' I tell You once more that man has no more pressing, agonizing need than the need to find someone to whom he can hand over as quickly as possible the gift of freedom with which the poor wretch comes into the world. [By turning stones into] bread you were offered something that could have brought You indisputable loyalty: You would give man bread and man would bow down to You. Man shall not live by bread alone was Thine answer.” — "The Brothers Karamazov" (Bantam Classics), Fyodor Dostoevsky, Page 304-306.

Have you ever wondered why Social Security dribbles out payments monthly instead of one lump sum? Otto von Bismarck, the father of Social Security, initiated it as a formidable instrument to obtain popular loyalty and allegiance for the unification of Germany in the late 1800s. Obama and the Democrats have taken this to heart and applied the principle of Occam’s razor to government: “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” The 47 percent of people receiving monthly government payments will bow down to a government that promises the illusion of cradle-to-grave caring. Sounds to me like a recipe for dependency and a recipe for growing government power.


Schnaubelt, president of Citizens for Private Property Rights, has been a commercial real estate broker for 35 years and was a San Diego city councilman from 1977 to 1981.

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