Rich People and Politicians: Who’s Stronger?

In an articale entitled “Rich People Versus Politicians”, Walter E. Williams lays out what rich people can and can not do to us. On the flip side, in the same article, he clarifies what government (even the lowest level civil servant) can and can not do to us.

There is a lot of talk of the “evil rich” and a whole lot of wealth envy that takes place among America’s citzenry. Some believe the wealthy should be taxed more “for Lord knows they can afford it”, that they should help some of us little people out. As a sidenote, whenever you talk about the evil rich you usually hear names like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, ya know, evil capitalist pigs. How come you never hear names like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen? Oh that’s right! They’re planted firmly in the left-wing’s hip pocket. Nevermind.

But as I was saying: many Americans act as though the rich should be punished for their wealth even though those who have wealth either worked REALLY hard for it (in which case they deserve the fruits of their labor) or they were born into it (in which case it is no more their fault than it is for someone born poor–it is simply the way the cookie crumbled). However blaming the rich or being envious of them takes the spotlight off of the real creeps, namely influential government whose members have great coercive power. Bill Gates can not confiscate my property for the sake of building a mall for “the greater good” but Uncle Sam can. Warren Buffet can not take away an unfettered amount of my wages for “the greater good” but ol’ Sammy can.

Williams discusses the coveted Ways and Means committee in the House. It is coveted because those guys (particularly the chairman, Charles Rangel) are wined and dined into oblivion by lobbyists from big and small corporations and and labor unions and foreign firms looking for a favor in the form of tax loopholes or other legal niceties that can give them a break. And they do so regardless of how it affects us or regardless of how they overstep their delegated powers per the Constitution.

Here’s the catch: we allowed the government to take on that power, you and me. But we also have the collective capability to remove that power. We haven’t done so because it is difficult and it is easier to simply go with the flow. But I personally write my senators and my representative several times a year. I want them to know me by name and I will write and write until they begin to listen to me. Unfortunately since there are probably not many people doing the same they likely think I’m simply a radical nut.

I am not radical revolutionist. I do not want anarchy. I love the rule of law. I simply believe that our U.S. Constitution set up the best possible form of government and I want to see it obeyed and its original intent observed. And while the govenrment is busy doing ONLY what it is empowered to do then it can leave me alone. That’s what I want. We have turned our government into a Miss America pageant. It is a popularity contest. Consider the 17th amendment which put the election of Senators in the hands of voters. Before the 17th amendment state legislatures chose the two senators for their respective states. This meant that the people were represented by Representatives in the House and states were represented by Senators in the Senate. It was a great balance of power and every interest could be heard and any new law would be beneficial to the states and the people. But the 17th amendment kicked states’ voices to the curb. It was another step in demolishing the rights and individual sovereignty of the states and has made them subject to the federal government instead of the other way around (thank you very much, Abe Lincoln).

Josh H.


7 Responses to “Rich People and Politicians: Who’s Stronger?”

  1. January 8, 2009 at 8:35 am

    You make a good point when you remind the reader that the “evil rich” are not only business men and women.

    You’ve outlined the problem well, but what do you and I do, short of overthrowing the government, to effectively remedy the problem in a civil and legal manner? You can answer that from a Christian perspective if you want, but since the majority of Americans are unfortunately not redeemed, what do you see as the options for the rest?

    PS: Dear Big Brother that was not meant as a serious statement, neither Joshua nor I have any intention of overthrowing the government.

  2. January 8, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    The very wealthy can, in fact, have far more influence on the political process than the rest of us. So, whatever your concerns about what the government might do to you, the same concerns apply to the very wealthy. This is why the government has done so much lately to remove consumer, environtmental, and labor protections.

    On the other hand, the very wealthy can also affect you in other ways – they can build so much profit into the health care system, for instance, that the consumer cost is an often unmanageable burden. Making you sell your house to pay for your meds is almost as bad as anything they might do through the gov’t, don’t you think?

  3. 3 Angie
    January 8, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I think it’s a pipe dream, unfortunately. There’s no means to shift into reverse, not with the undermining of the Constitution that has gone on and laws enacted over recent decades forcing us to run like rats through the maze, only THEY already ate the cheese and we’re just following the remnants of cheese aroma lingering in the air.

    The federal government got too big for their britches, and we allowed it to happen.

  4. January 8, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    @Lance: Grassroots movements in which citizens call for their elected officials to turn back to Constitutional principles is the best way. Sign petitions, call and write Congressmen and even your governor. But unfortunately not enough people give a crap. Not everybody’s a radical nut!

    To Big Brother: Yes, Lance is right, it was just a joke. We don’t plan on overthrowing the government. However I’d seriously consider Georgia’s secession.

    @smijer: I suppose the very wealthy can lobby (that’s what I meant by wine and dine) politicians but it is up to the politicians to scrutinize these lobbyists and determine if what they desire is in line with the Constitution AND to determine if the Constitution even gives the Congress the right to provide that desire. It’s all about delegated powers.

    You said “This is why the government has done so much lately to remove consumer, environtmental, and labor protections.”

    I’m not really with you there. There is now more government oversight and regulation of business than ever. Why, this past year alone Apple computer has undergone great pains to make their Macs and iPods “greener” for the sake of getting a good rating from the EPA. Labor protections? Do you mean unions? They are part of the problem and the liberals in Government often side with them. And don’t forget the ever-increasing minimum wage which increases companies’ costs and reduces their ability to maintain high employment and compete effectively (especially against foreign companies who have no such minimum wage forced upon them).

    Wealthy people in general don’t run the healthcare industry. Doctors, hospitals and drug companies do. And the prices are forced higher by government programs like Medicare and Medicaid which provide many people with coverage who don’t need it. Doctors, hospitals and drug companies have to service these folks at a greatly discounted rate (often zero dollars), but those costs have to be covered some how by some one….the costs are passed on to the rest of us. This is not to mention frivolous lawsuits which almost ALWAYS go in favor of the plaintiff thus requiring doctors to carry gobs of insurance to cover legal costs. Most often the plaintiffs in those cases are simply looking for a settlement.

    On the contrary, I have never had to choose between my house and meds–that’s a red herring. In fact I have never heard of anyone who has ever had to do so. My employer (one of the “evil rich”) provides me with and subsidizes an affordable and very sufficient health insurance policy as part of my benefits package in exchange for my labor. All without Uncle Sam even entering the picture. And my employer could do so even cheaper if not for the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph.

    Somehow, some way we have to realize that government is the problem not the solution. It never was the solution. As for economic growth and prosperity, capitalism is and always has been the answer. This is why America is as wealthy and strong as she is. Socialism, Communism and all forms of central planning will turn to despotism.

  5. January 9, 2009 at 8:08 am

    And smijer, as to “consumer protection” check out the business-crippling Federal Hazardous Substances Act. That is if you’re still reading this :). Unfortunately government regulation is alive and well.

  6. January 10, 2009 at 10:39 am

    The problem is, the rich have only as much power as our government gives them, and vice versa. The problem started with allowing special interests to subvert the Constitution as written. One group lobbies for a tax on another group, for special favor on a project they came up with and persuaded the government was necessary, etc. Reading Article 1 Section 8, it’s clear that Congress only has the ability to raise money in order to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare” of the States. And by “general Welfare”, both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson stated that it was more specific than it sounded:

    Madison: “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare’, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

    Jefferson: “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”

    As Madison stated, elsewhere, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” The power of government that was meant to be limited by the Constitution would be as open-ended as the government wanted. According to John Taylor in 1823, relying on notes by Constitutional Convention attendee Robert Yates, Alexander Hamilton, who pushed for the broadest use of that phrase, apparently left the Constitutional Convention in a huff because everyone else was insistent that the federal government be limited to specifically enumerated powers; otherwise, the power of local government was to be retained by the states.

    What do we do about it? Good question, and not an idle or rhetorical one. First we’ve got to take back the Republican party (which as an opposition party to the Democrats is paradoxically heir to Hamilton and the Federalists) in the name of the Constitution, starting with your own state. We’ve got to start campaigning for the restoration of states’ rights at every opportunity; our state is our country. If that fails, in coming years it may fall to our heirs to decide upon secession, a viable historical option.

    That’s my position right now, anyway.

  7. January 10, 2009 at 11:20 am

    It may not be clear from my comment what that “welfare” stuff had to do with the rich, since we generally use the term to mean assistance for the poor. But allowing the government to fund all kinds of things that large, deep-pocketed corporations want is often justified by the “General Welfare” clause. That and the “Necessary and Proper” clause, against which my arguments about the specifically enumerated powers also stand.

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