Sunday, July 08, 2007

Rudy outs himself

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani ran into a buzz saw of opposition Saturday when he explained his opposition to a flat federal income tax.

Giuliani addressed a group of about 500 people in a standing-room only crowd at a town hall meeting at the University of North Florida, answering questions for about 30 minutes on a variety of topics from Iraq and Iran to Social Security and his plan for tax cuts.

Several dozen people jeered when Giuliani, in response to a question, said he would not be in favor of a flat tax.

"I have to study it some more," the former New York City mayor said. "I don't think a flat tax is realistic change for America. Our economy is dependent upon the way our tax system operates."

Giuliani emphasized he supported a simplified tax system and cuts in federal taxes, including elimination of the so-called death tax, but his response to the flat tax question brought some cat calls and jeers. "I have a real question whether it would be the right transition for our economy," he said.

"I am disappointed in him," said Ken Mertz of Fernandia Beach. "But he did say he would look into it."

Look, this isn't hard. Julie Annie is a liberal. It is just that compared to the "progressive" liberals in New York City he isn't nearly as liberal.

Let's stop here and define "progressive". The word progressive was first used in a political context in the late 19th century. The Progressives of that era were largely protestant postmillenialists who believed that it was in humanity's power to create a Utopian society through social and political action.

Well known progressives included Republican president Teddy Roosevelt and Democratic president Woodrow Wilson (two of the worst presidents in the history of the Republic). Among the goals sought by the Progressives were the outlawing of alcoholic beverages in the United States and government mandated eugenics programs. Another prominent progressive was Margaret Sanger, the founder of the organization Planed Parenthood, whose goal was to use birth control and abortion to eliminate the Negro, Hispanic and American Indian races from the United States (for a start).

With the global carnage of the First World War and the abject failure of Prohibition to do anything but introduce organized crime into the mainstream of American society the Progressive Movement made what seemed to be a one-way trip to the unmarked graveyard of forgotten lies.

Starting in the 1970s the term liberal (which until that time had been an honorable term) began to be associated with politicians like George McGovern and Jimmy Carter and political movements like the SDS and the anti-war movement. The connotations of anti-Americanism, pro-communism and opposition to traditional Judaeo-Christian morality made it a political liability to be termed a liberal, especially in a national political race.

So a new descriptive term was needed. It was at this point that left-liberals dusted off the old term Progressive and began to put it into use again. Since "Liberal" had come to mean "America-hating lunatic fringe leftist" in the average American's mind it was discarded in favor of "Progressive", which means "America-hating lunatic fringe leftist", but the average American doesn't know that yet.

Which brings us back to Julie Annie. Julie came to the nation's attention as mayor of New York City, a city which had been ruled by "Progressives" for some time. As a result the dominant odors one encountered in most parts of Manhattan were rotting garbage and human urine. The welfare rolls and the crime rate were locked in a fierce competition to see which could hit a previously undreamed of high first and the murder rate was so high that it is literally safer to be deployed to Iraq in a Marine rifle company today than it was to live in any of the five boroughs during the pre-Giuliani era.

Then Rudy found his way to Gracie Mansion and began to turn things around. When he had finished New York was the safest big city in the world (safer than a great many medium sized cities as well), the welfare rolls had shrunk and taxes were lower. Against the backdrop of a city whose elites went into morning when the Soviet Union collapsed he looked like the next Ronald Reagan.

But we must remember that it is only against that background that he looks conservative. When you take his entire political philosophy into account it is clear that he shares the average left-liberal's lack of faith in the average person to make his or her own decisions and that he believes very strongly in a large strong activist government which intrudes into people's lives in a myriad of ways. He does not believe that the government should be as intrusive as the average modern leftist, but he does believe that it should be a great deal more intrusive than the average modern conservative ever will.

To fund this big intrusive government you need a progressive income tax. To provide the money to reward favored behaviors and punish unfavored behaviors you need a tax code which is highly malleable. No one-size-fits-all approach is ever acceptable. And, just importantly, to support the giveaway programs which keep enough people dependant on you so that you seldom need to fear not being reelected you need a tax which is easy to raise because addiction to government subsidy is like addition to heroin. The amounts needed to satisfy continually go up.

This is why the issue of the flat tax or fair tax is an ideal litmus test. If a politician believes that you are the best person to decide how your money should be spent and believes that you are a responsible adult with the ability to manage your own life he will favor the flat tax or the fair tax. A tax policy which is simple and transparent and difficult for the government to raise and treats everyone equally.

If, on the other hand, the politician believes that he relationship between the government and the citizenry is like that between a parent and his or her very young children, children whose actions need to be monitored closely and whose decisions need to be made for them and whose experience with money is best limited to a small allowance which the parent gives them, then that politician will favor a progressive income tax. And he will limit any reforms to tinkering with the marginal rates and adding or removing various credits and deductions.

The first kind of politician is called a liberal or a left-liberal or a progressive. In today's political climate they all mean pretty much the same thing. The second kind of politician is called a conservative.

Check for yourself. Rudolph Giuliani is not a conservative. He is simply less liberal than most Democrats.