A recent New York Times headline read, “Raising Taxes on the Wealthiest Would Pay for Bold Plans.” The story says that by soaking the rich “the government could raise large amounts of revenue … while still allowing them to take home a majority of their income.”

Nowhere in the story, nor in the endless promises of Democratic presidential candidates, is there a single word about whether more government spending will produce the promised outcomes. We are to take this on faith, despite past performance being a good indicator of future results. Also absent is any expectation that individuals have more power than government to direct and improve their lives.

That’s because to the left, government is much like a deity to be worshipped rather than a servant of the people. If you don’t worship at the leftist shrine, you’re labeled unsympathetic toward the poor. Republicans should respond: “We care about the poor, but unlike you, who have spent over a trillion dollars fighting poverty with little to show for it, we want the poor to become independent of government.”

What keeps most of the poor locked in poverty is propaganda from the left, which tells them they cannot succeed without government assistance, which, in turn, leads them to a series of bad choices and a state of perpetual victimhood. Look at America’s big cities, dominated by Democrats, to see how that’s working. Once we talked about people who overcame difficult circumstances; now we just sing about overcoming … someday.

To the left, government is much like a deity to be worshipped rather than a servant of the people.

Charles Koch and his brother David are reviled by the left because they contribute large amounts of money to Republicans. Never mind that George Soros does the same for Democrats. The normally reclusive Charles is doing interviews to promote his new book “Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies.”

Speaking with Megyn Kelly on the Fox News Channel, Charles read a letter his father sent him about his inheritance: “If you choose to let this money destroy your initiative and independence, then it will be a curse to you and my action in giving it to you will have been a mistake. I shall regret very much to have you miss the glorious feeling of accomplishment. Remember that often adversity is a blessing in disguise and is certainly the greatest character-builder.”

Where are you hearing anything like that in contemporary political discourse, especially among Democrats? It’s all about free college tuition, free health care, free everything. The United States will become a giant ATM and those evil, miserly, insensitive “millionaires and billionaires” will pay for it all because it isn’t fair that they have more money than you have.

Even if government confiscated all of their wealth there wouldn’t be enough to pay off the $18 trillion national debt. What happens when the money runs out; when all of the wealth of the successful is exhausted and the incentive to make money disappears with it? Where will the left turn then? Who is asking these questions? Not debate moderators, who seem more interested in getting the candidates to attack each other, as though the debates were just the latest reality shows. This is the future of the United States at stake. Could we please hear some adults conversing like adults?

Need a plan for success, or at least independent living? It isn’t new. Stop turning to government as a first resource. Get married before you have children, stay married and if things get tough seek counseling. Stay in school. Don’t take drugs. Develop good character and a sound work ethic. If a good job with a future isn’t available where you live, move to a city that offers more opportunity, or start a small business.

In the bidding war for votes, the left is preaching a message of envy, greed and entitlement. Human history proves that message doesn’t improve a life. The old values worked. If you’re a millennial, ask your grandparents about them, why they worked and how we lost sight of them along the way. Since these values succeeded for previous generations, why don’t we reclaim them?

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.