Thomas Sowell: I think he might be the smartest guy in the room


I will add nothing but this comment to this post.  By all means read this great article.

Thomas Sowell

Ideals Versus Realities

Many of us never thought that the Republicans would hold tough long enough to get President Obama and the Democrats to agree to a budget deal that does not include raising income tax rates. But they did — and Speaker of the House John Boehner no doubt desires much of the credit for that.

Despite the widespread notion that raising tax rates automatically means collecting more revenue for the government, history says otherwise. As far back as the 1920s, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pointed out that the government received a very similar amount of revenue from high-income earners at low tax rates as it did at tax rates several times as high.

How was that possible? Because high tax rates drive investors into tax shelters, such as tax-exempt bonds. Today, as a result of globalization and electronic transfers of money, “the rich” are even less likely to stand still and be sheared like sheep, when they can easily send their money overseas, to places where tax rates are lower.

Money sent overseas creates jobs overseas — and American workers cannot transfer themselves overseas to get those jobs as readily as investors can send their money there.

All the overheated political rhetoric about needing to tax “millionaires and billionaires” is not about bringing in more revenue to the government. It is about bringing in more votes for politicians who stir up class warfare with rhetoric.

Now that the Republicans seem to have gotten the Democrats off their higher taxes kick, the question is whether a minority of the House Republicans will refuse to pass the Boehner legislation that could lead to a deal that will spare the country a major economic disruption and spare the Republicans from losing the 2012 elections by being blamed — rightly or wrongly — for the disruptions.

Is the Boehner legislation the best legislation possible? Of course not! You don’t get your heart’s desire when you control only one house of Congress and face a presidential veto.

The most basic fact of life is that we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available. It is not idealism to ignore the limits of one’s power. Nor is it selling out one’s principles to recognize those limits at a given time and place, and get the best deal possible under those conditions.

That still leaves the option of working toward getting a better deal later, when the odds are more in your favor.

There would not be a United States of America today if George Washington’s army had not retreated and retreated and retreated, in the face of an overwhelmingly more powerful British military force bent on annihilating Washington’s troops.

Later, when the conditions were right for attack, General Washington attacked. But he would have had nothing to attack with if he had wasted his troops in battles that would have wiped them out.

Similar principles apply in politics. As Edmund Burke said, more than two centuries ago: “Preserving my principles unshaken, I reserve my activity for rational endeavors.”

What does “rational” mean? At its most basic, it means an ability to make a ratio, as with “rational numbers” in mathematics. More broadly, it means an ability to weigh one thing against another.

There are a lot of things to weigh against each other, not only as regards the economy, but also what the consequences to this nation would be to have Barack Obama get re-elected and go further down the dangerous path he has put us on, at home and abroad. Is it worth that risk to make a futile symbolic vote in Congress?

One of the good things about the Tea Party movement is that it resisted the temptation to actually form a third political party, which has been an exercise in futility, time and time again, under the American electoral system.

But, if the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party becomes just a rule-or-ruin minority, then they might just as well have formed a separate third party and gone on to oblivion.

Writers can advocate things that have no chance at the moment, for their very writing about those things persuasively can make them possible at some future date. But to adopt the same approach as an elected member of Congress risks losing both the present and the future.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Tea Party

One response to “Thomas Sowell: I think he might be the smartest guy in the room

  1. SpeakUPNJ

    I love Thomas Sowell, but not to the point of cashing in my own brain. I do not agree here because of ONE thing…the POWER of the MEDIA. All rational thinking gets distorted through the MEDIA prism in America today. Sowells fine ideas need to consider this distortion and I say here he does not. Bottom line for me…and just me is this…the Republicans no matter what they do on the Debt Ceiling…will be excoriated by the Media. That said Mr. Sowell; I do not agree that Tea Party insistence that Republicans finally now make a stand on principles and NOT on COMPROMISE…NO MATTER THE CONSEQUENCE…is such a bad idea. When you are placed in a spot where WHATEVER YOU DO…is vilified…I say…then DO THE RIGHT THING…not the expedient thing! You can still fight another day also. But when you do battle next time YOUR troops know in their hearts YOU will not desert them on the battlefield to Compromise. And they become emboldened to great things and THAT is how SUCCESSFUL revolutions begin!….IMHO.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s