RUSH: There’s a fascinating couple of stories on wealth. Do you know, folks, one of the things, talking about wealth and poverty, the poor, the rich, when I endeavor to explain American exceptionalism — and, by the way, if I may be a little Obama-like here. In the foreword that I wrote for Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims — remember that book written for children 10 to 13, primarily for everybody. I wrote my definition of American exceptionalism in a way that young people can understand it. At least I tried to. My uncle read that portion at our Thanksgiving dinner as part of grace, by the way, brought me to near tears.
But that would be a good place to go if you have the book, to find out what I mean by it. Over the course of years when I’ve attempted to explain it, one of the things I’ve said is that what has been normal for most people since the beginning of time has been tyranny and dictatorship and no freedom, certainly not political, not economic. The vast majority of people who’ve lived, the vast majority of people who have walked the earth have been under the dictatorial control of some despotic type government or Regime.
The US, the United States of America, is the exception to that. Well, I think that might be a productive, informative way to describe wealth and poverty. The natural existence, the natural state for the vast majority of people who’ve lived in the world is poverty. Most people in the world were born to it, and most of them never escaped it. Poverty is — and this is just historical fact. It’s not an opinion. I’m not making a political statement. I’m talking poverty is just as common as was living in tyranny. And again the United States was the exception to that. And poverty is discussed frequently in the context it’s horrible, we must do something about it, such as Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and all that. And we want to get everybody out of it, we state.
Everybody in politics claims to want to get everybody out of poverty. What’s the opposite? Wealth. And what is often criticized by the left? Wealth. Wealth is one of the most misunderstood, mischaracterized states of being for a human being, because it’s been bastardized by politics. We want everybody to get out of poverty. But then the escape from poverty is ripped to shreds by leftists and Democrats. Wealth is a dirty word. Wealthy is an even dirtier word. Poverty is what’s common. The wealth, the standard of living produced by the economy of this country, again, is the exception. And there’s some stories on this today that I want to tie what I just said into.
RUSH: Now, this subject matter of wealth and poverty, I want to say again that poverty has been the natural state for the vast majority of people who have lived on this planet since the beginning of human history. It’s not a statement of opinion, and there’s no opinion attached to it. It’s just fact, and it has been the attempt to escape that poverty which has driven people since the beginning of time. However you want to phrase it, describe it, the attempt to improve the standard of living, seek a better life, has been a quest of practically everybody since the beginning of time.
Most people, though, have failed to realize their dreams in this regard, until the United States of America came along — and then, once again, good old American exceptionalism, a phrase meaning simply that we are the exception to what had become standard operating procedure, or the rules for most people. Most people lived in poverty, most people lived in tyranny, most people lived under tyrannical government leadership.
Even if it was just a small, little village, the number of human beings who have enjoyed the freedom with which they were born is very tiny when compared and measured against the entire human race. It’s, again, part and parcel of the explanation of American exceptionalism and an attempt to have some people understand what’s special and blessed about this country. So the quest has been for wealth, and that gets defined many different ways. But poverty has been the standard.
Poverty is what has been reality for the vast majority of people. Now, there is a piece here, Associated Press, and it’s by a woman named Hope Yen. “Fully 20% of US adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America’s economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality.” Now, folks, that paragraph is astounding. The paragraph acknowledges that people move in and out of income brackets.
It acknowledges that, but then says that the wealthy are “the biggest barrier to reducing… income inequality?” No. Having an economy that creates wealth, having a system that produces and creates wealth is what gives people the opportunity to escape poverty. If people cannot escape poverty, there is no lower middle class. If there is no lower middle class, there is not a middle class, and there isn’t any advancement.
It’s not capitalism that keeps people in poverty. It is capitalism that has allowed the vast majority of people living under it to escape it. It is governments. It’s tyrannical leaders that keep people in poverty. It is leaders who believe in Big Government and high taxes to support them which keeps people from accruing wealth. Do you know what one of the biggest obstacles to creating or accruing wealth is? The income tax.
It may be the single biggest obstacle, because the income tax takes from the your disposable income. The income tax, by virtue of its existence, practically assures that people will not get wealthy via income. Yet that’s how most people get their money is via income — as opposed to people who are born to it and inherit it, who have wealth but not through income. Ordinary income is the income associated with work, a tax return, ordinary income.
There’s other kinds of income, the income from investments, and they’re not taxed at the rate that income is. “Capital gains” it’s called and the tax rate on capital gains is even now lower than it is on income. Now, Obama wants to raise it just to be “fair,” he says. But the income tax is one of the biggest impediments, and raising income taxes — while portrayed as something compassionate, good, and decent for all — is actually an impediment, and it is a government’s way of keeping people where they are economically.
I mean, after all, if income is the only source you have for the money you’ve got that you get from working — and if the tax on work and income derived from it constantly goes up — you’re gonna have less money, no matter how hard you work. This is the argument for reducing taxes and reducing income taxes specifically: It incentivizes more work. It leads to more wealth creation. It creates more jobs. Lowering taxes gets more people hired. If the business has to pay less in tax to the government, it’s got more money to hire and pay people that work for it.
This is, amazingly, still a big argument. And everything I just mentioned to you the Democrat Party totally disagrees with. They believe in redistribution, taking as much from everybody and then giving it to people they think are disadvantaged or discriminated against. In the process, everybody becomes lower middle class over time. So we have people in Post, and the Democrat Party, leftists and so forth, speak of them as though they are the virtuous ones.
The people who have worked hard, who have escaped poverty, who have gone through the various income levels to become middle class, upper middle class, rich, wealthy, they all of the sudden become the enemies of the country. So while we, on the one hand, encourage people to escape poverty, when they do, we treat them as suspects. We target of them, and then we start blaming them for the evils, the societal and economic evils that exist in the country. That’s how you get asinine pieces like this in the Associated Press.
It’s not just the wealthiest 1% are the problem.
“Fully 20% of US adults become rich for parts of their lives…” That means not their whole life. That means they get rich and they fall off it and they lose it and they earn it back. I had a friend down here, a guy who has passed away since, and you might find this hard to believe. This man lost $200 million three times. He was in commodities. He was in any number of things. He was a World War II ace. He was just a prince of a guy, but he had this knack for earning money and losing it. The wealthy are not wealthy forever, and the poor are not poor forever. But the Democrat Party wants you to believe that everything is static.
But even this idiot for the AP stumbles into this when she writes, “Fully 20% of US adults become rich for parts of their lives.” Meaning not always. But then get what follows. These 20% wield “outsize influence on America’s economy and politics.” Meaning, these people with all the money, they have way too much to do with economic activity. Well, it kind of stands to reason, doesn’t it? I mean, if you have a lot of money, you’re going to spend it. If you have more money to spend than somebody else, you arguably have more economic influence than somebody else.
But why is the economic influence of the so-called wealthy automatically bad? Because the Democrat Party can do mathematics, and they realize that 80% of the country isn’t, and all you have to do is tell that 80%, “You’re never gonna get rich ’cause the Republicans have stolen all your money, and they’re gonna keep all your money once they take it, and they’re never gonna give it back to you. Trickle-down doesn’t work. Once the rich get their money, they’re gonna keep it, and you’re gonna starve, unless you vote for us.” Talk about massive PR campaigns.
But this paragraph, it finishes with this silly sentence. “This little-known group,” little known, the 20%, by the way, it is common for economists, which is where this writer would gather information, economists divvy up income in this country into quintiles. They do it in five groups. And that’s why she is talking about it in that sense.
“This little-known group,” the top 20%. Now, not the top 1%, they were evil, but now the top 20% join them. I am sure this woman got the memo from the Regime. “This little-known group,” the top 20%, “may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality,” because they might resist having their money taken from them and given to other people. They’re mean and they’re selfish and they’re greedy and they don’t care about people with less, and they just care about themselves. The top 20% now are the evil rich, and they hoard it, and they don’t spend it, and they don’t give it to you, and it doesn’t trickle down, and they are the biggest obstacles to reducing the nation’s income.
I’m gonna tell you right now, the biggest obstacle to reducing income inequality is Barack Hussein Obama and his political party. If you want to know what the biggest thing in your way to an improved standard of living, higher pay, a more rewarding career: Barack Obama and the Democrat Party and their economic policies. They are the roadblock. They are the fork in the road. However you want to visualize something in your way, they are it.
“The growing numbers of the US poor have been well documented,” writes the AP, “but survey data provided to The Associated Press detail the flip side of the record income gap — the rise of the ‘new rich.’ Made up largely of older professionals, working married couples and more educated singles, the new rich are those with household income of $250,000 or more at some point during their working lives. That puts them, if sometimes temporarily, in the top 2% of earners.” And they are the problem?
Now, who are we talking about here? Largely older professionals, working married couples. Remember the attention we gave last week to the assault on the nuclear family. Basically the assault on the traditional, standard American family unit which has led to the greatest prosperity in the world. It’s under assault. And without stating it, that’s who the AP is attacking in this story. Working married couples or educated singles, the new rich are those with household income of 250 grand or more at some point, not their whole lives, just have to do it a couple of months and they’re still evil. That puts them even temporarily in the top 2%.
“Even outside periods of unusual wealth, members of this group generally hover in the $100,000-plus income range, keeping them in the top 20% of earners. Companies increasingly are marketing to this rising demographic, fueling a surge of ‘mass luxury’ products and services from premium Starbucks coffee and organic groceries to concierge medicine and VIP lanes at airports.”
So you see? The rich taking care of themselves. And now we’re talking about a hundred thousand dollars or more. They’re the ones that go to Starbucks. They’re the ones that have VIP lanes at the airport. They’re the ones who do all the organic food buying. I’m talking about this because Obama has said that growing income inequality is the defining challenge of our time, and that’s very frightening because this man is gonna do more to widen that gap than anybody you have ever seen.
RUSH: Let me ask you a simple question, folks. Wouldn’t you think it’s a good thing that 20% of the population of this country could be called rich or wealthy or whatever? Try that in Africa. Try that in the Middle East. Try that anywhere else. If you went to anywhere else and said 20% of the population had a standard of living sufficient to call them rich or wealthy, they would be celebrating. And here in America, what are we doing? We think we got a problem. We think we’ve got a problem, 20% are rich. It’s not just the top 1%. That was bad enough. Now it’s the top 20%.
They’ve got a crisis. They gotta do something about it. More people are getting what they call rich, 250 grand is not rich. The purposes of the AP and their propaganda, it sullies those people who earn a hundred to 250, and that’s what Obama and the Democrats want. It’s astounding. Our whole lives we hear we gotta get people out of poverty. We gotta help the poor. We help ’em get out of it and we make ’em suspects right there after. I tell you, these people on the left, some days if I actually stop and think about it, I can’t tell you how literally viscerally angry I get.
RUSH: Let me share with you just one more from this AP story. Now, look, folks, I’m gonna tell you what’s frustrating. Again, this is part of the soap opera. This is something that the left recycles, predictably. I’m reading about this, and I’ve been aware of it for certainly all 25 years of this program, and even longer. It’s the demonization of achievement, the demonization of success because not everybody has it.
Listen to this. Hope Yen is the AP reporter. She’s writing here about this new 20%, sometimes rich. They’re not rich all the time, but for part of their lives they’re rich. And they are to be hated and resented, as the fastest growing group, based on take-home pay, the new rich tend to enjoy better schools, better employment, gated communities, making it easier to pass on their privilege to their children.
Can I tell you how that just ticks me off? These people, what are they, criminals? “As the fastest-growing group based on take-home pay, the new rich tend to enjoy better schools…” Everybody wants that. Everybody seeks that. That’s what the American dream is. The United States of America is the only country on earth… Well, not only. There are countries who have emulated us, who have done a fairly decent job in terms of economic freedom.
We’re not the only, but we’re the leader. Now what is it, a crime? It’s something to be suspicious of that somebody’s enjoying better schools? Isn’t that what the Democrats are constantly telling us they’re gonna provide us? The Democrats are always telling us vote for us and we’ll rebuild your schools, better schools, better teachers, better jobs. But they never deliver. They keep everything mediocre. They deny individual advancement. They don’t even believe in it.
If it doesn’t come from them via some government program, it’s not real, and it’s to be suspected. Why in the world…? What is in it for anybody to be taught to resent success? This is what’s wrong with the left. In a country like this, where there is a higher standard of living than there is anywhere else in the world — when there is more opportunity, economic, political, whatever, than anywhere else in the world…
By the way, the disparity exists everywhere no matter what system. Even in socialist Marxist countries you’ve got the rich. They’re the people in government, and there’s a huge gap between them and everybody else. Well they’re fewer, but it’s still deemed to be okay. It’s okay that Fidel’s wealthy. It’s okay that Chairman Mao was wealthy. It’s okay that Hugo Chavez was. It’s okay that Obama is. It’s okay that Clinton is.
But it’s not okay that some schlub in Oshkosh might be. But the point is when these inequalities/inequities/differences pop up what is the instinctive action the left wants to take? They want to lower everybody! If you divide the economy or the nation’s people into five income groups, and the top quintile is say the top 20%, then you’ve got the bottom 20. What do the Democrats want to do? They want to take those people the top 20 and move ’em down.
They never, ever contemplate taking people in the bottom quintile, the next-to-bottom quintile and elevating them. At least not by virtue of individual achievement, initiative, ambition, and advancement. If there’s any economic improvement to go on, the Democrats want it to come from them via a government program, and it has been proven since the beginning of time that government programs cannot increase the wealth of the population of a country.
They can take care of the leaders.
They can enrich themselves.
But there is not a socialist program, piece of legislation. It has never, ever worked, and it never will work. The sad thing is that so many Americans now somehow just are made to feel satisfied when they hear the Democrats say that the rich are gonna again punished. When the rich are gonna have their money taken away from ’em, that’s applauded. You go right ahead and do it. It doesn’t change their lives at all, doesn’t improve their standard of living.
But they have been conditioned to feel happy when people who have more than they have, have it taken away by force by the government. A truly compassionate leader, a truly compassionate country would seek to elevate — and this is what conservatism is, my friends. Conservatism wants the best for everybody. Conservatism, conservatives want everybody to be the best they can. Conservatives want everybody who wants it to improve of themselves, and to be able to, and to get government obstacles out of the way.
Now, we realize some people are gonna end up higher on the ladder than others. That’s just human nature. Some people want it more. Some people are willing to work harder for it. Some people are more talented. Some people end up doing things they were born to do; others don’t. There are all kinds of reasons why it never ends up the same, because it can’t, because there is not sameness. There is not equality. There’s no such thing as indiscriminate fairness. It just doesn’t exist, just like two people being the same doesn’t exist.
You cannot make it happen outside of punishment. You cannot enforce sameness without penalizing people. You can’t do it by rewarding people, not by virtue of the left. So here we have another piece: The president soap opera talks about “income inequality” and, right on schedule, here’s an AP piece. Guess what? We now got even more rich people in this country! What a problem! We have even more evil. It’s not just the top 1%. Now it’s the top 20% that are evil and mean and selfish and stealing everything from the poor.
So it’s now the top 20% that we have to target with higher taxes and higher punishment, not just the top 1%. Now we gotta go get the top 20%, because the success they’re enjoying gives them too much power in politics and policy. They have too much power to influence things in their favor, ’cause they’ve got all the money. So we gotta go take it from ’em. You go talk to somebody in the family of four earning a hundred to 250, and he will this tell you it isn’t wealthy.
He isn’t rich, and they’re all in debt, and they’re all living paycheck to paycheck.
I don’t say that with any condemnation, praise, or anything else. It’s just give you the facts. But most people, do you realize…? Do you know how many…? I read this the other day, and I said, “This can’t be,” and I looked it up, and it’s pretty close. What is the number of people in this country? We have over 300 million. What’s the number of people, total number, who file income tax returns with income over $1 million? What do you think it is? Mr. Snerdley, there’s no wrong answer here, because I know it is a wild guess, but the guess that you give is an informed one.
You’re pretty studious on these matters. What would you think the number, based on what you read, what you think you know, the number of rich people you think are out there, what is the number of Americans who file income tax returns every year with incomes north of $1 million? Well, no, it’s more than that, it’s 300,000 people. Now, most people think there are that many in New York City alone, or there are that many in Hollywood alone. “You mean to tell me, Rush, only 300,000 people file tax returns with income north of a million?”
Now, that’s not 300,000 people with income north; it’s 300,000 who file tax returns with an adjusted gross income north of a million. It’s obviously a smaller number than the number of millionaires, but it’s an astonishingly low number. And look at how they’re demonized. And look at how they’re targeted, when the truth is everybody wishes they were one of them. It’s the most astounding thing.
It is just astounding. And even so, those people are not the engine of the economy. The middle class is the engine of the economy. Because there are tens and tens of million of them, and only 300,000 people who file tax returns north of a million dollars. They’re not the engine. There just aren’t enough of them, and the Democrats are still targeting them. Obama and the boys.