The worst part about watching CNBC to monitor my stocks these days -- even worse than seeing those stocks in free-fall -- is having to listen to many of the reporters and guests wailing about the dangers of President Obama's proposed tax hike on the wealthy and railing against this act of "class warfare." Hmmm... Could it be a coincidence that some of the loudest on-air complainers are themselves in the targeted income bracket of more than $250,000 a year? (I am too, in a good year.) Before these commentators quit their high-paying jobs to avoid the calamity of higher taxes, I'd like to remind them that they have a little time. The President doesn't intend to boost their taxes until after we get out of this recession. In the meantime, he's cutting almost everyone else's taxes.
But even the thought of future tax hikes -- to help pay for two wars and other more worthwhile government spending -- sends these unrepentant supply-siders into a frenzy. 'The rich own the small businesses that create the jobs,' Obama's critics say. 'The rich are the engine of growth,' the mantra goes. Well, excuse me, but on this planet what we've seen in the last couple of years is a lot of rich bankers and other unscrupulous speculators and con artists (they don't really deserve the dignified title of business people) destroy jobs on a gargantuan scale.
And back when the rich were creating jobs, those jobs weren't so wonderful. Just how many jobs created by the construction of condos, shopping malls and SUV production does this country really need at a time when our bridges and schools are falling apart, when millions don't have health insurance, when our energy system is based on 19th Century technology, and when we're starving our scientists and teachers?
The rich are no longer in a mood to create even lousy jobs. They are taking what's left of their riches and fleeing to the safety of treasury bills. They are still trying to figure out if their asset managers were funneling money to Bernie Madoff and other crooks.
When private demand and investment collapse, the government has to step in and boost its own investment in our future. Fortunately, the government intends to invest in things we really need like education, science, infrastructure, health care and renewable energy. Frankly, that's better than video games and hummers and all the other crap that Americans buy when "we get to keep our own money."
What supply-siders don't seem to understand is that government jobs are not a dead weight on economic growth. If we employ more teachers and firefighters and peanut-butter-factory inspectors, they will take their paychecks and go to the mall and buy the crap that private investment tends to favor. Vital services and crap can coexist.
Any decent country needs a balance between public and private investment. Yes, if the government runs everything, you get a dreary Soviet-style morass that makes almost everyone poor. But the starve-the-government-to-death (except for the war machine and corporate welfare queens) philosophy of the Bush era was leading us to a situation in which the rich were counting their dollars in gated communities, while the rest of society was going to hell -- even while enjoying the video games.
Thank goodness that the trickle-down economy collapsed from its own incompetence and corruption. Thank goodness the American people elected Barack Obama to rebuild a society we can be proud of.
So, don't despair, all you CNBC anchors. Yes, you'll be paying higher taxes in a couple of years. But that's because Obama is going to make you even richer than you are now.