Pygmies vs. Prophets

December 31, 2012

“Now, people when I say that people look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’ The answer is yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”
—Joe Biden

“There is no practice more dangerous than of borrowing money; for when money can be had in this way, repayment is seldom thought of in time, the interest becomes a loss, exertions to raise it by dent of industry cease, it comes easy and is spent freely and many things are indulged in that would never be thought of if to be purchased by the sweat of the brow.”
—George Washington

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“In my opinion, it’s not that the decision to have a child or have an abortion is ever not complicated; rather, it is as morally complex (and often conflicted) a decision as any. It’s never simple.”
—John Irving, My Movie Business: A Memoir, Knopf, 1999

“Moral issues are always terribly complex—for someone without principles.”
—G. K. Chesterton

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“One of the great clichés of the last few months was that September 11 changed everything. I never believed that. … I predict in the years ahead Enron, not September 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society.”
—Paul Krugman, Op-Ed column, January 29, 2002

“An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.”
—Eric Hoffer

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Pissant in a jar of urine

December 8, 2012

Earlier this week, I caught part of the segment on Glenn Beck’s radio show on his Obama Pee Pee eBay auction. In case you missed it, Beck created an Obama in Pee Pee “artwork” to tweak the Left and expose their hypocrisy regarding artistic license and freedom of speech. He auctioned it on eBay (all proceeds going to charity), but eBay pulled it before it ended.

Obama-Pee-eBay-page

By sheer coincidence, a friend tipped me to this provocatively titled blog piece from Bob Duggan: Is Glenn Beck’s Obama in Pee Pee the Last Shot Fired of the ‘80s and ‘90s Culture Wars? Glenn predicted the left would fail to see the point he was trying to make. Duggan does not disappoint.

Here’s Duggan’s opening salvo:

The sight of a grown man trying to stuff a bobbing plastic doll into a jar of what he claims to be his own urine is a sad thing, but when that man is right-wing commentator Glenn Beck making a strange comment about freedom of speech combined with a hateful symbolic act against the President, it’s not surprising. Beck tweely titles his artwork Obama in Pee Pee (shown above), but let’s call it what it is—Piss Obama, a 35-years-too-late reply (sic) to Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, one of the landmark works of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s “culture wars” pitting conservatives versus liberals in the battle for artistic expression. Beck hopes to piss off liberals with this act, but what he might have actually achieved is firing the last shot (squirt?) of the culture wars, proving perhaps once and for all that those cruel days are over.

Actually, I think the sight of a grown man dressed up like a character from a Pepe Le Pew cartoon trying to stuff a bobbing plastic doll that looks like Barack Obama impersonating Buddy Christ from Kevin Smith’s Dogma into a jar of what Glenn explicitly said was not his own urine is extremely funny. But the sight of a grown man who completely misses the point of Beck’s satire, gleans hidden messages in Beck’s urine, befuddles himself trying to expose Beck’s diabolical motives, reacts pretty much as Glenn predicted… and somehow thinks Beck comes off as the fool in the exchange—now that’s hilarious.

Glenn-Beck-tries-art-dips-Obama-toy-in-jar-of-fake-urine-VIDEO

I  knew I was in for a hard slog midway through Duggan’s first sentence:

“… when that man is right-wing commentator Glenn Beck making a strange comment about freedom of speech combined with a hateful symbolic act against the President…”

Everybody knows who Beck is. Labeling him a “right-wing commentator” is just a lazy ploy to poison the well. And rather than explain why Beck made “… a strange comment about freedom of speech,” Duggan simply tells us what to think. Ten points from Slytherin.

Characterizing the Obama Pee Pee auction as “a hateful symbolic act against the President” is lazy and dishonest. How does Duggan know Beck’s motives are hateful? As Thomas Sowell explains: “It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic.” However, attributing bad motives is a useful Alinsky tactic to put opponents on the defensive.

Now a non-expert might say, “C’mon, the guy put a figure of the President in urine. Of course it’s hateful.” True. Someone who knows nothing about modern art could make that assumption. But Duggan’s expertise disqualifies him from such misunderstanding. Duggan knows Beck’s satire was in response to artwork depicting Obama as messiah; he discusses it in his second paragraph. But he suggests that Beck is only now responding to Serrano’s 1987 display to paint Beck as out of touch. (Presumably Duggan meant to say a 25-years–too-late reply: 2012-1987=25. Math)

But so what if Beck’s auction was in response to Serrano’s Piss Christ; how is that “too late?” Since when do responses to art have a “sell by” date? Serrano’s “art” doesn’t have an expiration date. Duggan’s description of his blog refutes his own point:

In this image-drenched world, the line between the visual arts and society is less distinct than ever before. The artists of today speak not only to present times but also engage in dialogue with the artists of the past, who both haunt us and challenge us to rise above the mundane. Picture This stands at the crossroads of the present, past, and future in art, taking a good look around at the landscape and what it means to us. In doing so, it aims to provide a roadmap for those interested in how looking at art leads to thinking about life (emphasis added).

Should art criticism of Rembrandt be characterized as a “350-years-too-late reply” to Rembrandt?

This sentence is a doozy:

“Beck hopes to piss off liberals with this act, but what he might have actually achieved is firing the last shot (squirt?) of the culture wars, proving perhaps once and for all that those cruel days are over.”

Does Duggan really think Beck’s eBay auction represents the Appomattox of the culture wars? Actually, he does. His oh-so-clever takeaway compares Beck to a Japanese soldier fighting decades after WWII ended, bringing his “35-years-too-late response” comment full circle. He probably thinks it’s a clever metaphor; actually it’s just a forced simile.

Bizarrely, Duggan finds a comical Obama doll in Pee Pee to be a hateful symbol, but thinks Serrano’s display of a crucifix—which for Christians represents the Lord of the universe—isn’t about religion at all. Huh?

In his rambling monologue, Beck calls forth the ghost not only of Serrano’s Piss Christ, but also that of Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary, perhaps the most controversial work of the mid-1990s. Beck missed only Robert Mapplethorpe to complete the set. But that omission is especially telling. Piss Christ (like Piss Obama as a response to The Truth) isn’t about religion; it’s about oppression and suffering—specifically the oppression and suffering of the LGBT community in America, both then and now. Serrano chose the medium of bodily fluid at a time when bodily fluids were synonymous with the death sentence of AIDS. Piss Christ wasn’t an attack on religion or religious imagery but rather a modern use of that imagery to depict a new type of suffering and appeal for a new type of understanding and acceptance. Mapplethorpe may have photographed homosexual life in the 80s, but Serrano photographed its spirit.

Good grief. Beck’s omission of Mapplethorpe’s sick photographs is “especially telling?” Beck didn’t mention Ansel Adams’ photographs or opine on the merits of the Designated Hitter Rule either. What pray tell is “especially telling” about this omission? I thought Chris Matthews was the Grandmaster of dog whistle detection, but Duggan can hear dog whistles in what Beck doesn’t say.

I believe that Beck’s stunt comes not in response to The Truth but rather to the truth of the last election about public opinion regarding homosexuality and, most significantly, same-sex marriage. Linda Hirshman’s Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution (How a Despised Minority Pushed Back, Beat Death, Found Love, and Changed America for Everyone) argues that the American LGBT movement’s reached a tipping point of public acceptance, literally a victory not just for them, but for all people of any type of difference. The days of “culture wars” pitting American against American based on our differences rather than uniting us on our common values and dreams are over (I hope).

I won’t go so far as to accuse Beck of timing his stunt to blunt the impact of Saturday’s Day Without Art marking the passing of so many LGBT artists over the years. Beck’s statement rambled in so many directions that a clear message is hard to untangle, but the dog whistle of recalling Piss Christ and the “culture wars” of the past clearly tries to sound the classic anti-gay alarm signal. Like Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who fought on for three decades after World War II ended, Beck’s fighting a war long over. Call it Obama in Pee Pee or Piss Obama, Beck’s odd foray into the art world serves only to remind us of a time and a mindset best remembered in its passing.

How generous of Duggan not to go so far as to accuse Beck of timing his stunt to blunt the impact of an LGBT day of remembrance. In the same spirit, I won’t go so far as to accuse Duggan of timing his article to blunt the impact of Advent, Hannukah and Pearl Harbor. And I’ll give him props for the mileage (and dog whistles) he gets from attributing bad motives to people he disagrees with. First Beck was being hateful to the President. Now we learn that he was actually gay bashing via secret signals that 99.9% of his followers missed. (Hmm, maybe there’s something to those rumors about Larry Sinclair, the “Down-Low Club” at Rev. Wright’s church, the “wedding ring” Obama wore at Harvard, Reggie Love, Kal Penn, “Frank,” composite “girlfriends,” and how he throws a baseball. Excellent investigative work, Bob!)

The only apparent good news for Duggan is that the culture wars are relics of the distant past (he seems confused about who were/are the aggressors), and that Beck is the last combatant for the losing side. For an obsolescent pantomime villain, Beck sure draws a lot of hostile ammo. As Andrew Breitbart said, “if you aren’t drawing enemy fire, it’s because you’re not over the target.”

Personally I have no idea why Serrano put a crucifix in a jar of urine. Why did van Gogh cut off his ear? But unless Serrano was totally clueless, he had to know that millions would find his work blasphemous.

Yesterday I read about a Swedish artist with a German surname who uses ashes of incinerated Holocaust victims as the medium for his drawings. Perhaps this chap would say he intended no disrespect to the victims’ families, but “chose the medium of [dead Jewish remains to highlight] the suffering and oppression of the [neo-Nazi] community” and “appeal for a new type of understanding and acceptance.” Thankfully, most of us reject such sophistry and find his so-called art reprehensible and obscene. By what criteria does Duggan distinguish hateful Holocaust and Obama-in-Pee-Pee art from legitimate Jesus-in-urine art? Once universally-recognized lines of decency are crossed, lines are blurred, redrawn and erased again and again until as Dostoyevsky famously predicted, “everything is permitted.”

If Beck’s Obama in Pee Pee parody is hateful toward the President, then it follows a fortiori that Serrano’s display was hateful toward Christianity. It’s hard to see how one can rationally believe otherwise. However for Duggan, an image of Obama in fake urine is hateful, but an image of the Son of God in the real thing is perfectly fine. Even if Duggan was consistent, that still wouldn’t make his belief about Beck reasonable. He fails to consider the more likely explanation that Beck was mocking any or all of the following: Serrano, D’Antuono and/or Obama idolatry generally. Context matters. D’Antuono’s work and the Obama idolatry that inspired it provide the context to understand Beck’s parody. But Beck’s stunt remains an insoluble riddle for someone like Duggan who thinks the last election was about… (wait for it) … “public opinion about homosexuality and … same sex marriage.”

Single-issue voters find it hard to understand those who don’t share their singular focus. This may explain why Duggan never quite manages to understand Glenn’s point. It isn’t terribly complicated. Glenn sought to expose the hypocrisy of the Left re: “controversial” shock art. By creating an obviously satirical work of art that offends liberals, Beck reveals the Left’s feigned fidelity to artistic integrity and freedom of speech as a sham.

If you want to celebrate blasphemous and sacrilegious images, fine, knock yourself out. But don’t pretend you’re taking a principled stand by labeling literal excrement “art.” And please no more double-standards re: free speech. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech to offensive speech from all sides, including critics of the offensive speech liberals deem sacrosanct. But the Orwellian Left wants it both ways. They want blanket protection for obscenity they label “art”, and attempt to censor opposing viewpoints they label “censorship,” “racist” or “offensive.” Their real principle is “free speech for themselves, but not for others.”

Their hypocritical façade is exposed when a controversial work offends them. When normal people are offended by Piss Christ or Mapplethorpe’s graphic photos, the Left is ecstatic. But if a truly counter-cultural artist insults one of the Left’s sacred cows—or the “Religion of Peace” that stones women and executes homosexuals (somebody please explain that to me)—then the Tolerance mask slips, revealing their true Totalitarian face.

Putting a crucifix in urine or smearing feces on Christian iconography isn’t art; it’s defecating on art. An infant’s soiled diaper isn’t art no matter how closely the diaper stains resemble the work of Jackson Pollock. Piss Christ, smearing elephant dung on an icon of Madonna, etc. are to real art what the heckler’s veto is to free speech.

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In fairness, I shouldn’t knock Piss Christ because it inspired what might have been my greatest artistic triumph. During Serrano’s fifteen minutes of fame, I told my friends the following story. I tried to keep a straight face, but I suspect they knew I was being facetious. My so-called artist career could have gone like this:

I told my friends that I had submitted a mason jar filled solely with my own urine to the GuggenheimMuseum, only to see my beautiful work of art rejected. For whatever reason, those pretentious white museum curators ignored the challenges I overcame to produce my masterwork. First, I had to consume more beer than the Surgeon General or State Trooper sobriety tests recommend—but alas we must suffer for our art. Second, much of my “work” never made it to the canvas, as my inebriated state impaired not only my driving ability, but also my usual pinpoint accuracy.

I took small comfort in knowing that my work’s rejection had nothing to do with its artistic value. Critics conceded that it showed tremendous originality and potential. They appreciated how the amber hues I produced—derived from a carefully nuanced mix of dark and light brews—refracted different kinds of light. No, the power-brokers of the art world decreed that—for reasons having nothing to do with art—my precious sola urine jar would never be displayed alongside similar masterpieces by giants named Mapplethorpe, Ofili, Pollock and Serrano.

They rightly feared that my sans cross “pee pee” would offend atheists.

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Here in this image-drenched world, the line between a doll in a jar of Pee Pee and a crucifix in a 25-year-old jar of urine may be less distinct than ever before, but hypocrisy, double standards and incoherence are on full display.


Was blind but now I see

December 5, 2012

Grisly criminal acts are as old as humanity, but this story encapsulates the greatest evil of our time.

The title sums it up: “Woman forced to remarry the husband who threw acid in her face after she divorced him for being unfaithful.”

This woman’s horrific scars serve as a cruel and permanent reminder of the moment her husband of 18 years flung acid into her face.

Nurbanu had divorced her unfaithful and violent spouse after catching him with another woman.

Eight days later, she was cooking at home in Bangladesh when he pulled up on a motorbike and doused her with acid, leaving her blind and disfigured.

The 36-year-old now has to endure living with her former spouse again after his mother forced her to sign an affidavit to have him released from prison following the attack.

Horrific and sickening.

Monira Rahman, CEO of the Acid Survivors’ Foundation (ASF) in Bangladesh, has worked with the victims of acid and petrol attacks in the country for the past 14 years.

In a blog for the Huffington Post, she said the majority of the girls and women she had worked with had suffered at the hands of men who viewed them as ‘commodities’, and ‘believed they were justified in disfiguring them and violating their rights’.

That there is even a need in this world for an NGO like Acid Survivors’ Foundation is heart-wrenching alone. Tragically, Nurbanu’s suffering is far too typical in certain parts of the world. Wikipedia even has an article on acid throwing.

Ms Rahman said the number of acid attacks in Bangladesh has fallen thanks to the efforts of the government, the charity, donors and international development organisations to address the problem, but added that there was much more work to do.

There were 111 acid attacks in Bangladesh in 2011, compared to 500 in 2002.

I guess an 80% decline in acid attacks represents some small objective measure of “progress” in this barbaric part of the world. I am less optimistic when reading stories like this about our civilised allies’ willingness to confront intrinsic evil when they are no longer sure that evil exists.

But Ms Rahman said ‘gender-based’ violence like acid attacks could only be completely eradicated when women in Bangladesh enjoy equal rights.

‘Only by empowering women and ensuring equality we will have a society which has zero tolerance for violence against women,’ she wrote.

I don’t doubt Ms. Rahman’s sincerity. I admire her efforts to help victims like Nurbanu. The world would be a much better place if there were more people like her. But after spending 14 years helping victims of these evil attacks, her only explanations and solutions are framed in naive abstractions. What concrete steps does Ms. Rahman suggest Nurbanu take that will “empower” her and “ensure her equality”? My recommendations would include the brand names Glock or Smith & Wesson, but I seriously doubt Ms. Rahman had something similar in mind. It is unclear she has anything else in mind beyond vague, abstract platitudes in the face of very real and tangible evil.

Kerry McDermott, the author of this UK Daily Mail piece, is no more insighful. McDermott’s article includes an informative sidebar titled “The Battle To Rid Bangladesh of Acid Attacks.” Apparently the attackers throw nitric or sulphuric acid at the victim’s face or genitals, causing excruciating pain, permanent disfigurement and scarring. Many victims like Nurbanu suffer permanent blindness. To add indignity to their injuries, they are often ostracized by their families and neighbors, as if the evils perpetrated upon them were somehow their fault.

McDermott’s sidebar idicates that “Common motives behind the violent attacks include land or financial disputes, marital quarrels, and bitterness over spurned advances.”

Completely missing the point. I’m fairly sure that land and financial disputes, marital spats and scorned lovers are as common in the UK as in the US. But I have not heard about a similar epidemic of acid attacks on women in either country.

Two words immmediately came to mind as I was reading this article. The first, which I’ve bandied about a lot, was “evil.” The second, which I was initially hesitant to mention, begins with the letter I and ends in slam. Curiously neither of these word found its way into the Daily Mail article or sidebar, appearing only in the unwashed masses’ comments.

All too often I find myself returning to this great quote from George Orwell: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” All too often these days I find that restating the obvious can get us into hot water. Then I remembered another useful quote from G.K. Chesterton: “I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.”

Since the earliest days of sailing, mariners would cast sounding lines to measure the ocean’s depths. I fear we have arrived at a depth beyond the reach of any sounding line, where avoidance of the obvious has become the overriding duty of highly educated but foolish men.

Is it really so difficult to connect the dots?

From the Wikipedia article:

These attacks are most common in Cambodia, Afganistan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other nearby countries. Globally, at least 1500 people in 20 countries are attacked in this way yearly, 80% of whom are female and somewhere between 40% and 70% under 18 years of age.

In Afghanistan in November 2008, extremists subjected schoolgirls to acid attacks for attending school. Attacks or threats of attacks on women who failed to wear hijab or were otherwise “immodestly dressed” have been reported.

In 2006 a group in Gaza calling itself “Just Swords of Islam” claimed to have thrown acid at a young woman who was dressed “immodestly,” and warned other women to wear the hijab.

According to New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof, acid attacks are at an all time high in Pakistan and increasing every year. The Pakistani attacks he describes are typically the work of husbands against their wives who have “dishonored them.”

Do these sound like random disconnected events or are they part of a pattern?

Interestingly, the outlier country in this otherwise related group reported somewhat different motives for these attacks: “In Cambodia, it was reported that these attacks were mostly carried out by wives against their husbands’ lovers.” It doesn’t surprise me that this happens in Cambodia; it surprises me that it doesn’t happen on Jerry Springer.

I shared the above with my good friend Luis at Boiling Frogs. He pointed out that the Cambodian attacks illustrate what happens when societies begin to empower women as Ms. Rahman advocates. Some of the liberated women become the attackers, using their newly-acquired power against … other women. In fairness, the Cambodians apparently missed the “zero tolerance for violence against women” component of Ms. Rahman’s formula for societal advancement.

Mark Steyn has written fondly of a time when Britons reacted quite differently to quaint indigenous customs involving brutality toward women. In a 2002 piece titled “Multiculturalists are the real racists,” Steyn writes:

Once upon a time we knew what to do. A British district officer, coming upon a scene of suttee, was told by the locals that in Hindu culture it was the custom to cremate a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre. He replied that in British culture it was the custom to hang chaps who did that sort of thing. There are many great things about India — curry, pyjamas, sitars, software engineers — but suttee was not one of them. What a pity we’re no longer capable of being “judgmental” and “discriminating.” We’re told the old-school imperialists were racists, that they thought of the wogs as inferior. But, if so, they at least considered them capable of improvement. The multiculturalists are just as racist. The only difference is that they think the wogs can never reform: Good heavens, you can’t expect a Muslim in Norway not to go about raping the womenfolk! Much better just to get used to it.

Of course the local Hindu lads were deeply offended by the British officer’s judgmental attitude. By what authority did he interfere with their religious customs? The British officer conceded the locals’ point, but noted that his countrymen had their own custom as well. The locals were free to build their funeral pyre and the British would build their gallows alongside it. The locals could follow their custom and the British would follow theirs. Both culture’s customs would receive equal treatment. Isn’t that what multiculturalists want?

Apparently not. The widow’s life was spared.

How we view this outcome depends on one’s perspective. From Steyn’s and my admittedly imperialist, racist, troglodyte point-of-view, a widow’s life was spared. For multiculturalists who believe that interactions between persons and competing cultures are ultimately power struggles and that no criterion exists to judge between competing customs, the outcome simply goes to show how the dominant British culture imposed its custom upon the Hindu’s weaker (but equally valid) custom. From the widow’s perspective—well, her point-of-view was never part of the discussion.

Steyn concludes:

As one is always obliged to explain when tiptoeing around this territory, I’m not a racist, only a culturist. I believe Western culture — rule of law, universal suffrage, etc. — is preferable to Arab culture: that’s why there are millions of Muslims in Scandinavia, and four Scandinavians in Syria. Follow the traffic. I support immigration, but with assimilation. Without it, like a Hindu widow, we’re slowly climbing on the funeral pyre of our lost empires. You see it in European foreign policy already: they’re scared of their mysterious, swelling, unstoppable Muslim populations.

They’re still tiptoeing around the elephant in the room, fearful of damaging the fragile self-esteem of 7th century savages, whose sole innovative use 21st century technology they could never invent, consists in finding creative ways to inflict mayhem and murder on innocent victims. Their mindset is not unlike that of the late Ugandan dictator and practitioner of cannibalism, Idi Amin. As historian Paul Johnson recounts in his brilliant history of the 20th century Modern Times, Amin owned a state-of-the-art refrigerator/freezer, which he used to preserve uneaten human leftovers for midnight snacks presumably. Hey, just because Islamist fanatics are often murderous psychopaths doesn’t mean they aren’t sensitive.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on McDermott. If he was writing for the New York Times, the article might not have been published to avoid offending members of the Religion of PeaceTM. (Actually, the excerpt from the Wikipedia article I quoted referenced a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristoff. But when I clicked on the Times’ link, all I got was “Page Not Found” error message.)

Perhaps when Ms. Sandra Fluke is selected as Time’s next Person of the Year, she might consider a visit to Bangladesh and other places where acid attacks on women take place. I’m sure that Nurbanu would be inspired to meet America’s most courageous voice in the Republicans’ War on WomenTM. In fact, I can’t think of anything that could empower women more than a shout out from Ms. Fluke. She could bring these poor women free contraceptives and help them see (figuratively speaking) how fortunate they are not to live in a country where true evil—people who oppose paying for free contraceptives—exists.

The irony is that even though Nurbanu was literally blinded by her husband’s blind sadistic hate, victims like her can still see truth more clearly than sanctimonious liberal frauds who wilfully blind themselves by their own delusions.

H/t to my friend Symeon who first introduced me to the idea of sounding lines as metaphor.


The 99% Solution: A Modest Tax Proposal

December 4, 2012

Warren Buffett thinks billionaires like himself aren’t paying their “fair share” in taxes. He famously stated that he pays a lower marginal rate than his secretary. If Buffett believes the problems facing us are the result of his paying too little taxes, who am I to argue?

So Buffett calls for higher income and capital gains tax rates.

Omaha, we have a problem.

It’s often (albeit incorrectly) said that money is the root of all evil. But Buffett’s (read Obama’s) tax plan does not redress the glaring injustice created by huge disparities of wealth.

Obama and Buffett apparently think income inequality is a problem; I disagree. But even if it is, it’s a problem without a solution. Redistribution does not eliminate income disparities between classes; it just creates different ones, destroying wealth in the process. (If you hate our country, that’s called a two-fer.) Income differences exist in every economic system. If you think they don’t exist under Communism, I’ll gladly buy you a one-way ticket to the Worker’s Paradise of your choice.

Since Buffett pays himself only a modest salary relative to his immense wealth, his preferred tax hikes would still leave him with a lower marginal tax rate than his secretary, which I thought was the impetus for his crocodile tears. However, the new rates would ensure that the 50% or so of us who do pay federal income taxes will incur a much bigger tax burden within a few years.

The Federal Reserve’s rapid expansion of the money supply in recent years makes steep inflation inevitable once that money circulates in the economy. As Thomas Sowell explains, inflation is a hidden tax that rich and poor alike pay. Our salaries will lag behind price increases, but they will rise eventually out of sheer necessity. And everybody will pay the vast array of taxes Obama seeks for “multi-millionaires and billionaires” (i.e., people earning over $200,000 per year). If you currently make less than $200,000 and don’t give a crap about those who do, you may get there soon. When hyper-inflation hits, even minimum wage employees will find themselves earning $200,000 or more per year. And paying $50 instead of $5 for coffee at Starbucks.

This is another one of Socialism’s dirty little secrets. The higher taxes Buffett and Obama seek to impose on the rest of us do not touch wealth they’ve already accumulated. Higher tax rates do not redistribute or destroy (same thing) existing wealth, but they do make it harder for people not already wealthy to become rich.

For someone who’s earned a reputation for wealth redistribution, Obama is something of a piker, redistributionally speaking. His proposals leave a lot of un-redistributed wealth on the table, including Buffett’s estimated $40 billion net worth and Obama’s $17 million net worth.

Our Founders understood that the power to tax was the power to destroy. Progressive income tax rates are a proven method to keep others from achieving the same success that Buffett earned and Obama didn’t. Because no matter how “progressively” you skew income tax rates, the uber-rich will always find ways to pay less. And demagogues like Buffett and Obama will increase our tax burden—but not theirs—to ensure that “everybody pays their fair share.”

Incidentally, the actual Biblical injunction warns that the love of money is the root of all evil. If so, then isn’t the love of other people’s money an even greater sin? After all, the Bible clearly states: “Thou shalt not steal,” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”

My 99% solution would remedy the obvious defects with Buffett’s plan and show those “greedy 1%ers” some tough love.

It’s ingeniously simple.

Eliminate the income tax altogether and replace it with a “reasonable” wealth tax, say 99% of any amounts over $10 million. No exceptions.

The combined wealth of the Forbes 400 List totals approximately $1.7 trillion. My proposal would immediately bring in $1.683 trillion in revenue just from the Forbes 400 list, leaving the Forbes 400 with $17 billion or an average of $42.5 million apiece. Actually, they’d get to keep around $52 million apiece, since my modest proposal would not bother collecting a cent from anyone with less than $10 million. That excludes 99% of us. Do we support the 99% or the greedy 1%?

Unlike Buffettt and Obama, I admit that my plan is as equally self-serving as theirs. And unlike them, I’ll admit upfront that my redistributionist scheme will be as big an epic failure as theirs. But since they say they’re willing to pay a little more and I’ve never said any such thing, only my plan guarantees we both receive the tax treatment we want.

Incidentally, my $10 million exemption will ensure that nearly all small businesses, which create 70 percent of the jobs in this country, aren’t affected. To paraphrase Woody Allen in Annie Hall, I’m a redistributionist, but from the right.

Unfortunately, my proposal will still leave the Obamas with a personal fortune of $10.1 ill-gotten millions. Leaving them with that much money after what they’ve put the country through is an obvious flaw, but no tax plan is perfect.

Mine is much fairer than Obama’s and Buffett’s.

And since the community-organizing Constitutional law professor (sic) keeps saying: “We live in a Democracy (sic).”

Well then, shall we put our two plans to a vote?