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Unequal Signs By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 17, 2000


"ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL," wrote George Orwell in his fable about Marxism, Animal Farm, "but some animals are more equal than others."

Liberals used to cherish equality above all other ideals. They were eager to sacrifice lesser values such as liberty (their namesake) at its altar. But as the Left evolved, its desire for "equality before the law" transformed into a passion to impose social equality, redistribute wealth, and forcibly erase all differences between black and white, gay and straight, male and female, rich and poor. As the poet Kahlil Gibran noted, they would lock the same yoke on the necks of an ox and a deer and call this equality.

To achieve this social leveling, liberal government could not treat people equally before the law. It must raise the low with special privileges and impose unequal "progressive" taxation and other methods to bring down the high.

Despite their best intentions, wherever these Leftist social engineers have ruled they have destroyed both freedom and equality. They create what Milovan Djilas, high official in the Marxist Yugoslav government of Tito, called a "New Class" of ruling and privileged elitists in what pretends to be a "classless" society.

Today the old-fashioned liberal pretension of equality is dead. Replacing it is naked power and the use of government to protect and expand the privileged status of the Democratic Party and its courtiers and constituents. Liberals have become reactionaries, behaving as kings did centuries ago by robbing their opponents to reward their vassals. Liberals now believe that the main purpose of government is to play favorites, to bring down their foes and give privileges to their friends.

Days ago, for example, California’s liberal Gov. Gray Davis proposed making teachers exempt from paying his state’s burdensome income tax. This proposal, wrote reporters Hallye Jordan and Lori Aratani, "harkens back to World War II, when various taxing entities around the country exempted the salaries of workers in special defense-related occupations."

Gov. Davis, a Leftist Democrat, included devilish details in his proposal. His tax exemption would go not only to teachers, but also to other "credentialed personnel" in public schools—counselors, librarians, administrators, and others. Some schools have nearly as many administrators as teachers, and these administrators are often paid far more than the teachers.

(Ponder this test question: if California taxpayers spend more than $7,000 per pupil, and each teacher oversees a class of 30 students, then each classroom represents $210,000 of expenditure. The teacher is typically paid $32,000. So where and into whose pockets does the other $178,000—$5,933 per pupil—go? If you answered that much is siphoned off by the California Teachers Association and related government employee unions, and from them a big slice goes into the coffers of the Democratic Party, grade your answer an "A." Do the same arithmetic for other liberal bastions such as Washington, D.C., which spends more than $10,000 per student in public school to produce graduates unable to read their own high-school diploma.)

Gov. Davis’ proposal also restricts this state income-tax exemption to income earned in government (i.e., socialist) schools. No teacher in a private or religious school need apply, nor should any home-schooling parent whose efforts lighten the workload but not the tax revenues of public schools. This proposal aims to reinforce the non-competitive monopoly of government and its Democrat-supporting minions. And by its disrespect for private teachers, this scheme reveals itself to be about power and greed, not incentives to improve education.

Even the liberal President Pro Tem of the California Senate, San Francisco Democrat John Burton, gagged on the Davis scheme. "It’s bad tax policy. Who’s next? Cops, firemen, emergency workers, social workers? How about scientists who did work on the cure for AIDS and cancer?"

Who, indeed? State Senator Burton may fear, as he said, going "down a very slippery slope" of others demanding tax exemptions, and a consequent loss of government revenue. But he also seems to reflect unease with a growing pattern of laws that grant special privileges to certain groups of people. Nakedly making some people exempt from taxes that everybody else must pay seems a reactionary leap back to the age of kings. Only recently did England’s Queen Elizabeth agree that she and her family would no longer be exempt from taxes paid by commoners.

But look around you. Liberals are cursing Texas Gov. George Bush for daring to suggest a "risky scheme" to let us set aside as private investment two percent of our income now grabbed by taxes for Social Security. But many government employees have been exempt from this coercive tax and the rip-off of getting less than a two percent return on Social Security. As a result, employees of Galveston County, Texas, for example, have been able to deduct their retirement funds from before-tax dollars like a 401(k), thereby reducing income taxes. These dollars have gone into conservatively invested private individual retirement accounts belonging to the employee and earned on average at least 8.64 percent. These funds can be taken at retirement as a lump sum, not the small annuity that disappears at death required by Social Security. According to Bruce Bartlett, former deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department, and a senior policy analyst in the Office of Policy Development at the White House, for most single workers the initial benefits from this privatized system now enjoyed by these government employees are "considerably higher than under Social Security."

How big is this unequal robbery that victimizes you from Social Security? In the South American nation of Chile, the average investor in one of their safe, regulated Social Security–replacing private investment funds would on the day he or she retired receive a lump sum of $750,000. Put in the bank at 5 percent interest, this would produce $3,125 per month in interest alone—without ever touching the principal. At death, the entire $750,000 can be passed on to one’s children or grandchildren. Does this give you some idea how much the present Socialist Security system is stealing from you and your family?

And who has pocketed all this excess wealth stolen at gunpoint from you and your children? The government, and in particular the Democratic Party and its hangers-on and parasites. And the black Americans the Democrats pretend to help have been more victimized than most by this regressive tax. Blacks die younger on average than other racial-ethnic groups, so they and their families receive less benefit than others from Social Security, which in most cases vanishes back into government coffers the moment you die.

At least seven Latin American nations have adopted privatized Social Security systems. And, oddly, even Communist China permits workers to allocate a portion of their Social Security contributions to private-sector investment. Because of the greed for government power of Democrats like Vice President Al Gore, Communist China therefore has, in this one aspect, a freer economic system than does the United States.

But a privileged status for government employees and Democrat retainers goes far beyond taxation. In the wake of the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing, among President Bill Clinton’s first demands was for new laws to make punishment more severe for those injuring or killing a past or present government employee than for committing the identical injury to someone never employed by government. This, too, echoes the days of Kings, when to kill or injure a nobleman was a far more severe crime than to do the same to a commoner. Some animals, indeed, now are deemed more equal than others.

President Clinton calls for gun control at the same time he rushes to create massively armed paramilitary units in every government bureaucracy, from the IRS to the Forest Rangers. It’s reminiscent of Morton Grove, Illinois, where a few years ago City Council members voted to outlaw guns—but quietly exempted themselves from the ban. As recently discussed here, when the President gives a speech denouncing guns, he is surrounded by a small army of Secret Service agents who, under their coats, carry fully automatic assault weapons. If President Clinton and Vice President Gore were serious about gun control, why don’t they lead by example by ordering the Secret Service to disarm? And why don’t Mr. and Mrs. Clinton today declare that they will not accept Secret Service protection, traditionally given to every First Family for the rest of its life, after they leave office?

While Democrats have been moving aggressively to register as many voters as possible who share the values and morals of the Democratic Party—felons, the mentally ill, welfare recipients, and others receiving a government check—they have also taken a major step to stifle the one group of government employees likely to vote against them. In late April, Defense Secretary William Cohen announced that no polling or voting places would, as in the past, be permitted on military bases and other military sites. The excuse given for this was to separate "politics" from the military. The obvious reason is that by making it harder for those in uniform to vote, this will drive down voter turnout in the military that Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party "loathes."

Democrat presidents, governors, and other officeholders have carefully tailored government policies to give advantages to their friends, allies, and constituency groups. Government contracts, set-asides, preferential admissions to state universities, and other "affirmative action" programs have tilted to favor members of groups that disproportionately vote Democrat. The same is true of those protected by the application of civil-rights policies and hate-crime laws.

This systematic discrimination works against equality before the law. In the California of Gov. Gray Davis, for example, 11 percent of state employees are black—the result of many years of preferential hiring and promotion policies. Trouble is, only eight percent of California’s population is black. If this state were a Republican private employer, the U.S. Justice Department would be charging it with discrimination based on the "disparate impact" of its racist employment policies. The federal government would be demanding that California recompense all those whites and other minorities denied jobs and promotions because of skin color—and that only non-blacks be favored until the share of black state job holders, managers, and executives fell to about eight percent.

Do not hold your breath waiting for any such action by the Clinton–Gore Justice Department.

But do expect the Democrats’ "Most Favored Group" to change from time to time.

"When black men faced unsubstantiated charges of rape in the South, liberals once rushed to their defense," says lawyer Curt Levey of the Center for Individual Rights. "Feminist causes are more politically correct now than helping the poor and minorities."

Levey said this days ago to explain why, in a press release, his group described a woman "white athlete" who said that at Virginia Polytechnic Institute she had been raped by two "black athletes." Under the 1994 "Violence Against Women Act," this woman had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold her right to file a federal lawsuit against her alleged attackers for violation of her civil rights. The men accused have never been tried, much less convicted, for this alleged crime in a court of law.

The Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, invalidated this portion of the law. Congress, the court held, had exceeded its authority claimed under the Interstate Commerce Clause and the equal-protection guarantee of Fourteenth Amendment, two provisions Congress has long invoked to assert its power to legislate anything and everything. (Take note of how much hinges on whether the next Supreme Court appointments are made by Democratic President Al Gore or Republican President George W. Bush.)

"The Constitution," wrote Chief Justice William Rehnquist for the one-vote majority, "requires a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local." If Congress were allowed to regulate gender-motivated violence because of its impact on interstate commerce, it then could likewise regulate "murder or any other type of violence," wrote Rehnquist, but such a general police power is something "which the founders denied the national government and reposed in the states."

But in striking down this one provision of the "Violence Against Women Act," the high court left intact the criminal portions of the law. With these remains the doctrine, in practice, that a crime of violence against a woman is somehow more serious and merits more punishment than the identical crime against a man. Some animals are more equal than others. And the same is true for crimes against those shielded by hate crime laws, which in practice can mean that white-on-black crime may be punished more severely (and can be tried repeatedly, despite protections against double jeopardy) than the same crime committed by a black against a white.

All such laws and policies give government a license to discriminate, to treat us unequally, for political purposes. Such are the Unequal Signs of these times.


Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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