Al Gore’s Money Grab

by | Oct 9, 2000

Whose money is it? In a muddled political contest, where there is no basic disagreement on prescription drugs, education, or even foreign policy, the biggest issue might be: Which candidate, if any, thinks you have a right to your own money? Al Gore’s answer is clear: you don’t. Gore’s recurring theme in last week’s debate […]

Whose money is it?

In a muddled political contest, where there is no basic disagreement on prescription drugs, education, or even foreign policy, the biggest issue might be: Which candidate, if any, thinks you have a right to your own money?

Al Gore’s answer is clear: you don’t.

Gore’s recurring theme in last week’s debate was that Bush was “spending” too much money on tax cuts. This language of “spending” reveals the essence of Gore’s outlook on life.

In reality, tax cuts are not spending. They do not come out of money already collected by the Treasury that is then “given back” to taxpayers. Tax cuts represent money not collected, money that was not looted from the wallets and bank accounts of the people who earned it. That money cannot be “spent” because it was never owned by the government to begin with.

The only premise that could justify the use of the term “spending” is the idea that the government does own your money — the idea that your money does not belong to you by right because you’ve earned it, but belongs to you only by the government’s permission.

Look at it this way: If you give an allowance to your children, it’s appropriate to talk about “giving” that money to them or to talk about how much you are “spending” on their allowance. Time after time Tuesday night, we were reminded that this is how papa Gore looks at the American people.

He talked about tax cuts “coming out of Medicare.” You see, that money doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to Medicare. Privatization of Social Security, to Gore, does not mean allowing individuals to put their own money into their own savings; no, it means “diverting … dollars away from the Social Security trust fund … and into the stock market.” You see, that money doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to the Social Security trust fund.

Similarly, vouchers would not allow individuals to use their own money to give their children a better education in private schools; no, vouchers would “take taxpayer money away from public schools.” You see, that money doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to the public schools.

Gore even talks this way about his own plan, when he proposes “investing in … middle-class tax cuts.” He’s not letting us keep our own money. No, that money belongs to the government, which might “invest” in us, but only if we use its investment for good, government-approved purposes.

What makes Al Gore think he can get away with this? The answer was provided in the first five minutes of last Tuesday’s debate. Bush repeatedly bought in to Gore’s terminology. He talked about wanting to “send back” part of the surplus, or even worse, wanting to “share some of that money” with taxpayers. How nice of him — he wants to share our money with us!

Bush made one brief attempt to challenge Gore. “My opponent thinks … the surplus is the government’s money,” he declared. But “I think it’s the hardworking people in America’s money.” Gore’s response drove a tank through the middle of Bush’s fuzzy language: “I agree that the surplus is the American people’s money. … That’s why I don’t think we should give nearly half of it to the wealthiest 1 percent.”

What Gore evades — and Bush is unable to explain — is that the wealthiest 1 percent would not be getting “the people’s money.” They would be keeping their own money. Cutting these people’s taxes would not be a giveaway; it would simply keep a little more money in the hands of the individuals who earned it.

But in Al Gore’s view, there is no such thing as an individual who earns his wealth. In Gore’s world view, wealth seems to be some kind of anonymous social product which belongs to “the people” as a collective. And who better to control the collective’s money than Al Gore? No corrupt campaign fund-raising scheme could equal this grab for other people’s money.

Al Gore’s language of tax “giveaways,” of “paying for” tax cuts, and so on, is meant to obscure the fact that wealth is produced by individuals, and that those individuals have a right to what they’ve produced. That’s whose money it is — and we shouldn’t let Al Gore evade that fact.

But to do that, we have to banish from our political debate the language of “spending” money on tax cuts. Only then can we banish the kind of power-hungry politicians who use this language.

Robert Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute from 2000 to 2004. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Mr. Tracinski is editor and publisher of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily, which offer daily news and analysis from a pro-reason, pro-individualist perspective. To receive a free 30-day trial of the TIA Daily and a FREE pdf issue of the Intellectual Activist please go to TIADaily.com and enter your email address.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Have a comment?

Post your response in our Capitalism Community on X.

Related articles

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Both Biden and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, promised that they had Israel’s back, but it now appears that they are painting a target on its back at a time of its greatest vulnerability.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest