Democrats beware. Pope Francis has set a trap for you worse than for the conservatives.
Sure, the mainstream media has spent its time highlighting Francis’ Republican snares — on immigration, the environment, the death penalty, and market economics.
But Republicans were at least consoled by Francis’ views on the traditional family, marriage, divorce and abortion that still allow them to reach out to blue collar and Hispanic Democrats.
Paradoxically, the Pope ensnares Democrats more by undercutting their bread-and-butter favorite: attacking inequality. Their core appeal is to assault the one percent richest and demand income be redistributed to the poor.
So far, so good but that only works within the boundaries of the U.S. Francis wants worldwide equality. That is an entirely different matter.
The world median annual income is $1,225 per person according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic’s The Haves and the Have-Nots. The world’s wealthiest one percent begins at $34,000 per person (after taxes).
Almost all of the world’s 60 million “rich” are in the U.S. or Europe and half of the planet’s one-percenters live in the U.S., totaling 29 million voters.
Americans, of course, would consider making only $34,000 far from being wealthy. Indeed, the median U.S. income is $34,500 meaning half of Americans are rich by world standards.
The point at which Americans are designated poor for a family of four is $23,000 which would make them among the world’s income leaders.
One of Francis’ main examples of excess is using air conditioning. It produces energy that harms the environment through pollution and contributes to the waste that is choking world resources.
The fact is 80 percent of America’s official poor have air conditioning. Will Nancy Pelosi tell them they will have to give it up?
Based on Census data, Heritage Foundation analysts
Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield report that nearly three-quarters of the official U.S. poor have a car or truck and 31 percent have two or more; nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television; two-thirds have at least one DVD player and a quarter have two or more.
Half have a personal computer and one in seven has two or more; half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation; forty-three percent have Internet access; forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV; a quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.
And, ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave.
This is precisely the consumerism Francis deplores.
How would worldwide redistribution take place? The IRS would require every American file a statement of their income for the year, including the monetary value of welfare and programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Wealth could be ignored in the calculation by turning all assets to the government (eliminating capital gains), including savings and retirement programs.
The Treasury would then tax all income over $1,225 per person, including children, at 100 percent and send it to the poor of the world, imposing its own taxation only thereafter.
It would be extremely difficult to find a list of those in poverty so the check would probably have to be made to governments trusted to give it to their poor.
If they do, this would be an enormous gain for counties like China, India, and Russia but would also allow them to invest the resulting greater taxes in both domestic and military programs.
Worldwide demand would change radically from services and high-end goods to basic food, clothing and shelter allowing the planet’s enormous subsistence level population to survive.
America would obviously have to change. Present high-end service and manufacturing (and their jobs) could no longer be supported by after-tax U.S. income, so investment would need to shift radically to a more agricultural and industrial age production system for both domestic and international markets.
Stock prices in these industries would lose much of their value, perhaps replaced by increases in agriculture and low-end manufacturing.
With decreased tax revenue, defense spending would plummet and programs like Social Security and Medicare would have to be reduced drastically, with the benefit of ending the threat of bankruptcy in the present programs.
Manufacturing waste would decline dramatically but agriculture and primitive energy methods might even produce increased world pollution.
Imagine Democrats selling this program, telling those on welfare, the U.S. poor, union members, greens, and indeed the whole lower half of the population that they are too rich and must reduce their income to take care of the real poor of the world who live on only $1.25 a day or less.
The final result would be the world Francis envisions with less waste, more primitive consumption and lifestyles, and world income equality. But the U.S. Democratic Party would be out of business.
Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, the author of "America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition and Constitution," and was Ronald Reagan’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during his first term. For more of his reports, Go Here Now
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