Dante postulated a Hell with nine circles, each more appalling and excruciating than the one above. The last level, that in which the worst sinners suffer most horribly, Dante reserved for traitors.
But Dante overlooked the tenth circle of Hell, perhaps because he lived too early for same to be constructed, staffed, and fully occupied. That Tenth circle of hell is reserved for wealthy socialists, especially those who, having made an unholy fortune exploiting freedom in this country – often in undertakings producing not the slightest material benefit to anyone – then pontificate about the superiority of socialist Edens like Sweden.
Consider the Grinchy Op-Ed recently penned by one Annie Korzen, attacking none other than the saintly George Bailey of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. George stands accused of terminal selflessness, putting the needs of others ahead of his own aspirations. Repeatedly confronted by the necessity to chose between “following his dreams” or serving those who needed his talents, George always chose service over self. “Why must we choose between the two”, the author inquires, lamenting George’s failure to act like a “selfish little piggy”?
Ms. Korzen mistakenly considers following one’s dreams and aspiring to great wealth as indicia of selfishness. Nonsense. George’s friend Sam Wainright presents a perfect example. Although pursuing a different path than George, when the chips are down, he steps in with a massive financial gift, one that only a free economy would enable him to amass. As the movie centers on others, we don’t know what sacrifices he made, but we do know that he built a factory, employed thousands, helped win the war against tyranny, and stood ready to help when his friends needed it. Selfish? Not hardly. The world needs both George and Sam.
George, too, might have abandoned Bedford Falls and sought his fortune. But he felt that people close to his heart needed his talents locally, and consciously abjured personal ambition to serve them, putting his family, his friends, and his community above personal ambition. He couldn’t have both. He couldn’t both be true to his values and serve his community. Life’s like that sometimes. We celebrate the selflessness of folks like George. Indeed, we have a word for such folks: parents. Or, much more specifically, Mommy. Kids often interfere with ambition, and, often, people – parents – must choose that which they find most important. (Anyone who would choose their own dreams over their kids’ needs should reconsider parenting)
If Korzen wishes to celebrate her own “selfishness”, that’s her prerogative. But when she wanders off into political-land, and offers a judgment on how Bailey might have changed Bedford Falls – and society – if only he’d “pursued his dreams” … “traveled to progressive countries … and discovered societies that aren’t in pitched battles between rich and poor …”, she demonstrates why she writes comedy and not political commentary. Her political analysis makes one cringe, not laugh.
Bah. Humbug. I hear Dante calling.
Consider the incongruity of Korzen’s paean to socialism in the context of an op-ed celebrating large houses owned by successful celebrities. In a “progressive country”, like Sweden, those “huge new houses” do not exist, because said “progressive countries”, for the most part, resolved the “pitched battle” between wealth and poverty through the simple expedient of abolishing wealth. Those folks Korzen refers to as “selfish little piggies” – those with talent, drive, and ambition, and the desire to retain the fruits of their labor for themselves – took their talent, drive, and ambition elsewhere, undermining the economies of said “progressive” lands.
Examples abound. Swedish director Ingmar Bergman presents an interesting contrast to Frank Capra, the success of whom – in the US – Korzen celebrates. The tax commissars drove him out of his “progressive” Sweden; he ended his life in exile. Bjorn Borg, another Swede, fled that nation’s “progressive” (read ‘confiscatory’) tax regime, joining other Swedish world-class athletes who, while “representing” Sweden, live in less oppressive jurisdictions. Even the founder of Ikea shook the dust of “progressive” Sweden from his feet when the tax collectors threatened to tax said dust.
In 1970, Sweden boasted the world’s 4th richest economy. 37 years worth of progressivism later, it’s number 15. According to some studies, if Sweden left the EU and joined the US, it would be the poorest state in the country, below even Mississippi. Indeed, the drain on Sweden’s economy from its “progressive” (read ‘ridiculous’) war against wealth became so apparent that it repealed its notorious (anti) wealth tax earlier this year, becoming – perhaps to Korzen’s disappointment – substantially less “progressive”.
Well, there’s always Cuba.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” celebrated community values. George devoted his life to the service of others. His brother went to war and risked his life to serve others. Sam Wainright made a fortune, employed thousands, then used his wealth to help those in need. In other words, freedom works, and we don’t require a massive governmental edifice to “make things better”. Celebrities can get their big houses in expensive neighborhoods; it takes nothing from the poor that they do. If they’re “selfish little piggies”, who hoard their wealth, they become mean, little – lonely – people, like Mr. Potter. In “progressive” counties, the government attempts to prevent that and, as a result, destroys the economy. You get no Potters, but you get no Wainrights, either, and everyone suffers as a result. In free societies, many of the rich act like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, devoting their vast wealth, ala Wainright, to good causes. In “progressive” societies, that wealth would never exist to be taxed away.
New Jersey suffers from an unhealthy does of Korzenism. (We spell it slightly differently here) True to our “progressive” values, we have imposed massive taxes on the productive and the “wealthy” – property taxes are, after all, mainly taxes on accumulated wealth – with the perfectly predictable result that our economy has begun to suffer. Virtually every economic indicator shows signs of inexorable decline, the blame for virtually all of which can be laid at the feet of a “progressive” government, which attempts – at huge, collective expense – to governmentalize the sort of services that we expect from George Baileys. It can’t be done; you can’t pay people enough to do the sorts of things they should do for one another, and the attempt is foolish
Sweden demonstrates the folly of the socialist, leveling impulse so often celebrated by folks who live elsewhere. NJ, once the richest, most vibrant state in the Country – based, in no small measure, upon its status as a tax haven for fiscally oppressed NY residents and businesses – shows signs of emulating its Scandinavian counterpart and lapsing into permanent, economic doldrums, driven there by a rapacious government created by economic illiterates. Hopefully, it will not take another three decades for the electorate to finally realize that “progressivism” leads inevitably to economic collapse.
And as for rich socialists, they can be taken seriously when they sell their big homes, move into modest condos (not $1.5 million examples in Hoboken), give all their money to the government (it, after all, knows better who to spend it than they do), and try to get by on what a
n average Joe makes. Perhaps, then, they might appreciate the hardship their absurd economic policies create, and might avoid eternal damnation in the deepest layer of hell, wherein the denizens suffer in excruciating agony while Joe Vitale reads the latest Marxian Jon Shure tract advocating universal everything.