It’s been clear for a while, but it has recently become exceedingly so: America’s most educated and esteemed elites really don’t think America is all that great. The rhetoric is everywhere- from The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik asking whether the American Revolution was a mistake all the way to the seemingly unanimous conception of the American academy that the nation’s citizenry is irredeemably bigoted. It came, then, as no surprise when The Atlantic’s Jonathan Kay yearned on Monday for the greener pastures up north, affirmatively quoting JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon:
“We are unable to build bridges, we're unable to build airports, our inner city school kids are not graduating,’ is how JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon summarized the state of things during an earnings conference call last week. ‘It’s almost embarrassing being an American citizen.”
In part, Kay blamed America’s ills on voter racism, highlighting that “Barack Obama’s rise to power exacerbated the racist tendencies of embittered reactionaries.” What’s more, he bemoaned the fact that Americans just aren’t taxed enough, ranking just 31st out of 35 wealthy OECD countries in tax burden. But most of all? They ignore the lessons learned in Kansas five years ago:
“By contrast, when Kansas Governor Sam Brownback abruptly slashed the state’s top income tax rate by 26 percent in 2012, state revenues went into a freefall. Yet the notions that government is always a plague upon the economy and that lower tax rates will lead directly to growth and prosperity—which have together accreted into a core plank of U.S. conservative ideology since the Reagan years—still remain popular. And Donald Trump seems intent on steering the country onto the same downward trajectory as Kansas…”
The failures of entire countries predicated on high taxation, high government expenditures and low income inequality- see Venezuela, Cuba, and the USSR, among others- can be written off as aberrations, mere misapplications of the social democracy for which Kay opines. It’s conservative ideology that cherrypicks the success of the Reagan economy to justify their economic philosophy, not the Left’s strange fetish for the anomalous Nordic countries that seems to justify their reclamation of the historically inept philosophy of socialism.
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Kay, a Canadian resident, acknowledged that he paid 46 percent of his gross income to the state, but it’s a transaction he’s willing to make in exchange for the bland egalitarianism of social democracy. The implication, of course, is that Republicans or conservatives who don’t subscribe to that vision of the societal contract are greedy misers who are so fiendishly attached to their wealth that they are invariably unable to care for the poor. This forgets that conservative households, statistically, significantly out-donate their liberal counterparts to charitable causes by about 30 percent, and Americans writ large donated $373 billion dollars to charity in 2015, which is larger than the entire economies of 166 countries globally.
Could it be possible that Americans just like freedom? It’s perfectly legitimate for Mr. Kay to have earnest policy disagreements with the American Right, but if others who share his concerns are so fond of centralized governmental control, could they not move to Canada themselves?