Taxing Times

The Democrats are re-playing their class warfare act. This is getting to be as familiar as re-runs on TV Land.

Led by the new House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrats claim the proposed Bush tax cuts on dividend income will benefit the rich more than anyone else.

The fact is, more than half the country is invested in the stock market and lots of seniors rely on dividend income to supplement their retirement. So these tax cuts will benefit everyone currently taxed twice on the same money.

But there's a larger issue. Should the government tell us how much of our money it will allow us to keep? Or should we tell government how much of our money we will allow it to spend?

Democrats, who now whine about the deficit, never minded one when they ran Congress. And too many Republicans have been willing to join them on their spending binge. They all need to go on the wagon. It isn't their money -- it's ours.

But what this debate is really about is politics. Democrats want people dependent on their programs to stay dependent. Otherwise, those locked into poverty and despair might become Republicans once they're solvent and optimistic.

The way to revive the economy is to make more capital available to the people who produce the products and services people want.

The more they're taxed, the less capital is available to invest and spend and the fewer jobs there are.

Economics isn't taught much in school, so most people don't understand it. They assume that government is benign and beneficent. But to paraphrase Mae West: "Too much of a bad thing is a bad thing."

Lower taxes produce more capital, which in turn produces more investment in new industry and more consumer spending, which in turn creates more jobs.

That's what happens when you cut taxes, whether you're a democrat, like John F. Kennedy, or a Republican, like Ronald Reagan, or the current President Bush.

Like so many in my generation, I once was, by today's standards, "poor." As an Army private working for Armed Forces Radio here in New York City, I made $99 a month and had to work a full-time civilian job to make ends meet.

I saw a lot of rich people around, but I didn't envy them or hate them; I wanted to be like them!

Growing up I learned that if I took advantage of the opportunities this country offered me, I could be successful. So I took college classes at night and on Saturday. When I failed to get or keep a job, I didn't file a lawsuit, I looked for another job.

In those days, we admired and rewarded success because we wanted more of it. We penalized and stigmatized failure, in part, to get less of it. Today, it seems, the reverse is true. Instead of pursuing victory, we often wallow in victimhood.

To paraphrase Calvin Coolidge: "Nothing can take the place of persistence. Not talent... Not genius... Not education. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Too bad we haven't heeded those words. If we had, the war between the classes might be over by now.

And that's Column One for this week.

What do you think? Send your responses to


Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America". Readers may email Cal Thomas at